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What? There's a backlog?

If you work in immigration, it's no secret that most applications seem to take an inordinately long time to be reviewed. That's the case for almost all applications whether overseas or in-Canada. Well, it seems the government is trying to do 'something' about it.


The first change is to in-Canada H&C (humanitarian & compassionate) applications for permanent residence. Until now, all H&C applications were filed to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville ("CPC-V"). Unfortunately, CPC-V did not make a decision on any applications where it felt that an interview was needed (99% of cases, it seems). So, all of those files would get transferred to the local CIC office where the applicant lived. For us, the Calgary office became EXTREMELY backlogged. Last year, I got a letter on a file telling me (and my client) that it was going to take 7 years for the Calgary office to make a decision! Now, for many people, the longer it takes, the better it is because it lets them get more and more established. At the same time, people want decisions and closure.

The Canadian refugee system will be seeing some significant changes in the near future. To that end, CIC is trying to reduce the backlogs of applications that are currently in the system. In terms of H&Cs, they are now being filed directly to the Backlog Reduction Office, or BRO, in Vancouver for processing.

We've seen a lot of our applications being decided in Vancouver. So far, the decisions do not seem very positive. Many very sympathetic cases are being refused by officers in Vancouver. 


The second change is the introduction of the Case Processing Pilot - Ottawa (CPP-O). This new office was created to deal specifically with family class sponsorship files that are successful at the Immigration Appeal Division ("IAD"). 

Right now, when an overseas visa office refuses a family class sponsorship application, the sponsor has a right to appeal that decision to the IAD. If successful at the IAD, then the file is returned to the visa office to finalize processing of the applicants' permanent residence application. Usually, there is nothing substantive for the visa office to do once the IAD has sided with the sponsor. Nevertheless, it can take MONTHS before the visa office even receives the file and re-opens it, never mind actual finalization and PR issuance. 

The new CPP-O will be tasked solely with processing applications that succeed at the IAD. Until September 2011, CPP-O will initiate security checks on the applicants and forward the file to the overseas visa office to finalize PR issuance. From September 2011 to April 2012 (when the pilot project ends/is reviewed), CPP-O will finalize all files where security risks are low. Once finalized, the visas are printed at the overseas visa office and inserted into the applicants' passports. The file is never transferred back to the visa office. On more complex files with admissibility/security issues, the file will still go back to the visa office.

I am quite interested to see how much faster files will be dealt with at this new dedicated office. It can't be any slower than the current process (at least I hope not)!

Recently, I succeeded on appeal for a client who was sponsoring her husband. After months of waiting for the file to be sent to the overseas visa office, my clients were very disheartened when they received a standard email saying their application would take 29 months to process! After some complaining on my part to some "higher ups", medical instructions were (supposedly) recently sent out. It's for clients like this that I hope for faster processing. 

Let see how these go in the coming months!


  1. Hi all,

    I am looking for some advice for my spousal sponsorship application.

    I submitted the sponsorship application to the CPC in Mississauga Ontario approx May 12, 2011. About a month and a half later I got a letter back saying that I met the requirements for sponsorship which I guess is the first part of the whole application, that part of the application gets processed in Canada so it takes roughly 30-40 days. The letter also mentioned that due to the situation in Damascus Syria my application has been sent to a visa office or a Pilot Office in Ottawa to begin the process. Every so often I check the status of my application and today I saw that they have received the application for Permanent Resident. I have a few questions that I would like to inquire about.

    1) If the application for Permenant Resident is being processed in Ottawa right now and not Syria, does this mean that it would take a much shorted time to process? I heard from someone that it would be a much faster process. The normal time for processing permanent resident is about 7-10 months I believe.

    2) When I log in to check on my status it says "received application" Does this mean they have begun processing or just received my application? Whats the steps taken after that ??

    1. I had the same thing with my family sponsored application for permanent residence in Canada. My application was received at CIC Islamabad, Pakistan where they immediately updated the status of my application as "Application Received at CIC Islamabad". Later they updated the status to "Medical Examination Results received" and finally "In Process" and within three days the status was reverted to "Application Received". Later the time of 28 months passed and I got to know that they didn't even seen my application. I was called for an interview on 26th February 2013 after sending them many emails. Now I am waiting and it seems they will definitely refuse the application by saying, "Insufficient proofs provided for application processing".

      I am doubtful whether the Canadian Immigration doesn't wants their Immigrants or Citizens to live with their families that are legally married. They are discouraging the people to go to Canada and live up with their families. They are justmaking the drama of "FAMILY REUNIFICATION".

  2. Thank you for being so transparent with immigration issues. All lawyers, including car accident lawyer orlando should be as open as you are.


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