What’s the Hold Up?

Many of us are becoming frustrated that our first family hasn’t yet arrived, especially as other families sponsored by other groups are arriving who have been in the process for a much shorter period of time.

We asked Jennifer Ardon from Canadian Lutheran World Relief for her opinion on the delay.  This is what she told us:

I understand the frustration.  I get this all the time.  Unfortunately, the issue is with the overseas processing at the visa office, and there’s nothing we can do from here.
I’m not sure what other types of sponsorship the other churches were involved with, but ours was a named case, which means that the family we chose to sponsor did not have government-approval to come to Canada.  They had to go through the whole refugee determination process, and as this was submitted pre-Trudeau, the delay is even more evident, because of the way things are being fast-tracked now.  The government-assisted cases already have UNHCR refugee approval, so the visa office is not doing that for these refugees, they are just doing the background and medical checks.
This is essentially our timeline with this process:
  • February 2015, applications sent to CLWR to review
  • March 2015, IRCP signed undertaking forms
  • April 2015, applications finally completed and submitted to Vancouver for CLWR approval
  • June 2015, CIC Central Processing Centre in Winnipeg (CPOW) approves application to be sent to visa office.  This is when processing time begins.
  • November 2015, Beirut visa office sent email to IRCP confirming that the applciation was in process and the background checks were in process
  • December 2015, Beirut VO sent an email to CLWR confirming that the application was in process and the background checks were in process
  • January 2016, VO called the applicants in for a refugee determination interview
I would estimate that once the checks are completed, they will be given their visas to come next month.  We will likely only get a few days notice, since that is becoming the norm now.  Syrians are not being even being given settlement orientation sessions in order to speed up their flight schedules.  That being said, we still have no idea when the family will arrive.  All processing times at this point have “been tossed out the window” because of the new government and the fast-tracking of Syrians.
At the end of the day, we are at the mercy of the visa officer assessing the family’s case.  They are not the only ones in this situation, and the visa office also does applications based on urgency and vulnerability.  For instance, a family with 4+ children will receive more priority status than someone with 2 children, or a female single-headed household will be seen as having more at risk so they will be given more priority.
I hope that helps.
Jennifer Ardon
Project Officer, Refugee Resettlement and Community Relations

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