5 Complaints About Canada’s Immigration Application Process

November 2014


I have many complaints about Canada's immigration system.

Some are fundamental, such as how family reunification no longer seems important to our governing politicians.  As an adoptive parent and former foster parent, I know how long periods of separation can affect attachments between parents and children.  For example, lost years of attachment can affect children's abilities to make friends, their schooling, and of course, their abilities to rebuild relationships with their parents from whom they were separated for so long.

Other complaints are about minor issues, annoyances really. Although annoying enough to drive people to my office because they've thrown up their hands in frustration trying to figure out how to fill out immigration forms and determine what documents they need to submit.  How many other prospective applicants to Canada give up entirely, just because the application process is so cumbersome?

I've selected five complaints which fall somewhere between these two extremes.


1.  Requiring native English speakers to take an English language exam

I recently did a consultation for a young woman who wants to apply under the Canadian Experience Class.  She is a citizen of the UK, and obtained her university degree in London, England.

She asked me if she really had to do the IELTS exam.  I said yes.  She said, "Well, we invented the English language, but OK...."

2.  Spousal document checklists that ask for co-signer info "if required" – A spouse can't co-sign their own application!

IMM 5433 – Document Checklist – Inside Canada – no mention of co-signer

IMM 5491 – Document Checklist – Sponsor – Outside Canada –this checklist asks for documents and signatures from a co-signer "if you have one" – this very confusing for people doing a spousal sponsorship.

There should have one document checklist for all kinds of spousal sponsorships.  Leave the IMM 5491 for the sponsorship of other family members only.

3.  Not granting a "grace period" for forms which have newer versions

If you submit an application with a form that has a newer version, your application will be considered "incomplete".  This will happen even if the newer version of the form came out the day before you sent in your application.  Couldn't they allow older versions of the forms to be submitted up to a month after a newer version is released?

4.  Processing times for immigration applications – any type of application...

Recently posted to the Refugee Lawyers Association listserv:

Question:         Any insight on processing times?

Answer:           Somewhere between forever and never.

5.  Number of photographs required to accompany applications

Inside Canada:  2 for spousal

Outside Canada: varies by visa office, but frequently 8

Why?  What do they do with all these photographs?  Do they have any idea how much it costs to have 8 professional photographs taken?

On January 1, 2015 the Canadian government will introduce the Express Entry program, which promises to simplify the application process for certain types of economic programs.  Whether or not the process actually becomes simpler is yet to be seen.

A few other developments this past month:

On October 31, 2014 CIC announced the government's annual immigration plan for 2015.  The government is planning to welcome between 260,000 to 285,000 new permanent residents in 2015, an increase of approximately 19,000 planned admissions over 2014. http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=898829&_ga=1.110543820.892443862.1392843088

On October 31, 2014 CIC also announced reforms to end the live-in requirement, reduce family separation and provide more options to caregivers in Canada.



For next month's newsletter, I'll let you know what I've learned about Express Entry so far.  For now, keep checking http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/express/express-entry.asp?utm_source=slash-express&utm_medium=short-url&utm_campaign=express-entry