Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Immigration Corner | Did my husband really file for me?

Published:Tuesday | September 13, 2016 | 9:00 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I have been married to a Canadian citizen for the past three years and he submitted a sponsorship application for me. I have been waiting for my green card to go to Canada and I haven't received it. People are saying that he may not have submitted the application and probably has another wife there. I don't believe that is the case as I signed the forms and sent them to him, along with all the documents he required. But you know men; sometimes you can't trust them. So, I applied for a visitor's visa. I got the visa and plan to visit him soon. My question to you is, can I go to Canada and stay there while my papers are being processed? How can I know what is going on with my case? I'm just worried about how long we have been apart and we do not have a lot of money to go back and forth.

- CM

 

Dear CM,

I can understand the strain that the lengthy separation is causing for you and your spouse. Although the Canadian government places a high priority on family reunification, there is a backlog with the processing of sponsorship applications at this time. However, the average wait-time for spousal sponsorship is around 16 -18 months for spouses who are currently residing in Jamaica. So, it's time for you to investigate the matter.

You should contact your spouse, request your file number and contact Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to find out the reason for the inordinate delay. You should be prepared to answer several security questions, as they will need to verify your identity before they give you any information.

You may also use their online Client Application Status service to view the status of your file by using your Unique Client Identifier, client number or receipt number.

You indicated that you now have a visa to visit Canada. Congratulations! You are one of the few persons who have been successful in obtaining a visitor's visa after their application for sponsorship has been filed.

I do not encourage surprise visits as you could be the one surprised! Nevertheless, I sympathise with your quest to get answers.

On your visit to Canada, do not stay longer than the time you are granted to visit. Be sure to have your return ticket and be prepared to convince the immigration officer that you do not intend to stay until your application in approved. In some cases, individuals may even be prevented from entering Canada at the airport or the border if they are unable to convince the authorities that they do not intend to overstay.

In any event, you would need to return to Jamaica to pick up your permanent resident card, as this would not be delivered to you in Canada.

The rules are very clear that applications for permanent residence made outside of Canada under the spousal sponsorship/ common-law class cannot be converted to application for permanent residence in Canada. The visa office in Jamaica cannot send its file to be processed in Canada. In fact, generally speaking, when a spouse is outside of Canada the file is usually processed more quickly than when the spouse is already in Canada. The current processing time for files submitted in Canada is 26 months.

So, you see that the file would likely be processed more quickly, since you are currently residing in Jamaica.

 

Reasons for delay

 

Your file could be delayed due to missing documentation, so you should check with IRCC to find out what is missing. Another possibility is that your spouse could be deemed ineligible to sponsor you.

Some of the reasons that an application may be rejected are: your spouse could be bankrupt; receiving social assistance (on welfare) and does not have a disability; defaulted on previous sponsorship obligations; has an immigration debt; has been convicted of certain criminal offences or is currently in prison.

Whatever the case may be, three years is a long time to wait without answers. Contact IRCC either via the online portal or telephone. If you are unable to get answers on your own, I recommend that you consult an immigration lawyer directly to provide you with personal assistance.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com or call 613.695.8777