An application for a visa in Canada is subject to published processing times. However, those processing times are not always reflective of an individual’s case processing. Often times, the immigration department’s published processing times speaks to “80% of cases”, thus meaning that there are 20% of cases which are subject to more lengthy processing times.
Self represented people dealing with the immigration department try to have the immigration call centre intervene in an application. Other self represented candidates for a visa might approach a Member of Parliament (if they reside in Canada) to intervene or at least find out the timeframe for the disposition of the application.
I have come across one file where the application was “approved in principle“ subject to minor, administrative requirements such as an updated police and medical check. Nothing was done on the file by the immigration department for more than a couple of years and I was retained to find out what went wrong in the file.
Upon accessing the file notes, I discovered that prior to hiring me, the client expressed concern to the immigration call centre about the delay in processing. The call centre in fact responded to that concern by contacting the appropriate office (CIC Etobicoke), asking that the file be brought forward for further processing. In response, the immigration office did nothing. In fact, the immigration note system indicated that an officer was supposed to work on the file during January 2015. As of June 2015, no officer had commenced any further work on the file.
There is often a kind of “merry-go-round” that extends the processing times potentially into perpetuity. This often consists of requesting documents which have a built-in expiration date such as medical documents and or criminal documents, where the expiration is 12 months and six months respectively. In other words, the officer requests a medical check or criminal check (i.e. a police clearance), and upon receiving it, does no processing on the file. Said third party checks subsequently expire, thus necessitating a request again for the same medical or criminal documentation by the same or different immigration officer.
Another significant cause for delay as if the immigration office has to deal with another third-party. The other third party may include CSIS, or an associated visa post outside of Canada (particularly where a person inside of Canada is seeking a visa for herself, and is also seeking a visa for dependent children who reside outside of Canada). Often times, when there are two immigration officers involved in the processing of one file, there is a failure of both immigration offices to synchronize the work on an application which leads to delays.
In all of the circumstances, when the delay is excessive, the only solution would be to demand that processing be completed within a specific timeframe, and if that demand is not complied with, then seek mandamus at the Federal Court. I’ve had to do this a few times for clients over the years and when all criteria have been met, the response to a Federal Court application by the immigration department is extremely pleasing to the client.