Klaudios Mustakas – Pace Law Firm: I have had many phone calls in the past few months from people who are faced with the biggest problem in Canadian immigration: delays. It now takes months or years for applications of all kinds to make their way through the Canadian immigration apparatus. Spousal sponsorships, work visas, you name it. All of these people are facing seemingly endless delays. If I could sum it up in one letter to Immigration Minister Hussen, it would look something like this:
Dear Mr. Minister: What has happened to your department ? Where is the humanity for which Canada is known worldwide? It is time that we brought back a humanitarian and compassionate rationale in decision-making by your officials.
Not every applicant is trying to somehow cheat the system. Many honest applicants are subjected to unbelievable scrutiny. This causes tremendous delays and forces individuals to be separated from spouses, miss educational opportunities, or be unable to work for months or even years.
The concept of “perfect applications” is creating a burden on many individuals. If a client somehow uses an out of date form (even if only a few weeks old) the application is refused. Usually the form has very minor, clerical changes.
Evidently, the telephone is now viewed by immigration officials as something akin to a VCR or telegraph. What happened to picking up the telephone and calling the client or their representative? If there is a clerical error, or if an I isn’t dotted appropriately, one phone call could clear up the problem. Instead, the application is thrown in the trash and the person is sent to the back of the line. This is completely inefficient.
Speaking of human contact, why aren’t people simply interviewed by visa officials anymore? An interview would satisfy many questions that an immigration officer might have. As a former immigration officer and visa official, I was taught to assess the individual before me and give them the benefit of the doubt on a borderline case. Now it’s a pass or fail over a piece of paper, with no discretion allowed.
Compassion And Humanity Required
Unfortunately, discretion requires humanity, which is sorely lacking in today’s immigration department. The client and, in most cases, their Canadian sponsor have no place to turn to get answers. I personally know of dozens of people waiting to be re-united with their spouses, waiting for their citizenship to be approved, or waiting for the renewal of their Permanent Resident card. Some of them have been waiting several years for these things to happen, with no updates from the government.
People need to travel and need to move on with their lives, yet the department has no answers and often passes the buck to other agencies.
It’s time that the Canadian immigration department comes out of its silo and treats Canadians and immigrants with more dignity and respect. Please do something?
Klaudios is a former senior manager with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He has 37 years of federal government service, including international diplomatic assignments in the United States and the Middle East. He retired as Chief, Enforcement (CBSA) in December, 2010.