To Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
We are a group of Canadian citizens and permanent residents sponsoring our spouses for immigration under Inland Spousal Category. As of May 9 2014, the estimated processing time for first stage approval (sponsor and relationship assessment) is currently 10 months, followed by 8 months stage 2 for admissibility screenings.
Under the previous procedure, inland spousal sponsorships were processed at CPC-Vegreville. Applicants were also able to submit Open Work Permit (OWP) application so that the sponsored spouses can be approved to work once the stage 1 is complete with a positive assessment. OWP applications also gave sponsored spouses the implied status to allow them to remain in Canada, should their temporary residence expire at any point along the lengthy process. With the move of processing office from Vegreville to Mississauga, we have seen many unclarified confuses and we find that the process now is less efficient than before. Below are the reasons and our petition for changes.
· OWP should be granted upon Acknowledgement Of Receipt, instead of waiting until after Approval in Principle (AIP) is granted. Understandably it is very difficult for newly married couples to live on one source of income. Judging from the inefficient processing time for this category, it is even more critical for the sponsored spouses to be able to work and support their Canadian spouses. The majority of these people will become permanent residents of Canada; therefore, Canada loses nothing if the government allow them to join the workforce as soon as possible. They need the income to establish their new life here, Canada will be able to collect their tax dollars sooner and it is fair to help people integrate and work as they have to wait in a long queue for the processing of their permanent residency. We find it very unreasonable when CIC easily issues Open Work Permit for spouses of Work Permit and Study Permit holders, and delay that very privilege to the spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. In some ways, it is similar to bringing in temporary foreign workers to replace for local sources of labour. In American system, Employment Authorizations are granted once USCIS receive a complete, duly signed package of American inland spousal sponsorships. A similar approach should be adopted in Canada.
· CIC and CBSA have a shared mandate to protect the security of Canada from foreign people and goods. However, there are many times when these agencies work in opposite directions. While CIC allows out of status people to apply for inland sponsorship, CBSA at their own discretion can remove these people at anytime for any reason. Under current polices, if applicants receive removal order, they will then have the right to ask for CIC’s expedited processing of their inland spousal applications within 60 days. If the decision is positive, the removal order is cancelled. This causes more confusing steps and time inefficiency for both CIC and CBSA. If OWP can be granted upon AOR, the sponsored spouses have a legal right to work AND to remain in Canada until PR is finalized. The inland processing should be streamlined to be more efficient, avoid time-consuming steps.
· During transition between Vegreville and Mississauga, the processing time for both stages went up signifiicantly for each stage (nearly 2 year in total processing time). At this moment, CPP-Mississauga is issuing Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) to those who mailed their applications back in January 2014 and have processed applications received on July 8 2013 for almost 3 months now with no progress. CIC turnaround standard for AOR in most categories should be one month. If any information is missing on the applications, applicants will only be aware of it when CIC opens the packages (in about 4 month time now). CPP-Mississauga should pick up their processing time for this immigration stream and make sure they will issue AOR as per CIC service standards.
We urge you to kindly review these issues and take immediate steps to rectify them.