Canadian Immigration Has A Communication Problem

By James Metcalfe | October 20, 2017

James MetcalfeJim Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: Recent circumstances have caused me to question the common sense of some officials in the Canadian immigration apparatus:

  • We recently filed an application under the Express Entry program for a family that included three dependent children. In the stack of forms that need to be filled out, one asks for names, biodata, and addresses of accompanying dependents – i.e., children. The information must be included separately for all dependents. Alas, the postal code for one minor was omitted, although the address was the same for all persons on the application. Oops. After three months, the file was returned as incomplete. Was the missing postal code an omission of a material fact? No, not unless you think the child was trying to hide something by not including their postal code on the form. Was the officer who worked the file a relatively smart person who could use their common sense to figure out that the child lived at the same address with the same family, notwithstanding the lack of a postal code? You decide.
  • Our office had a client for who had applied for a new Permanent Resident card last winter. We received a response from the processing centre that they did not believe she was residing in Canada. Could they have picked up the phone and called her on the phone to sort out the problem? Yes. Did they? No. Instead, they sent her a letter asking her to prove she was in Canada. She was very frustrated at the request. I suggested that she stand in the snow in front of a Tim Hortons, hold up a copy of that day’s Globe and Mail, and send me a photo. I submitted the photo with a copy of the front page of the newspaper. Her PR card was approved and sent within 10 days.
  • We currently have a similar situation where an overseas office expressed doubts that our client was in Canada. Officials could have asked him to report to an immigration office in Canada or asked CBSA to investigate, but no, they simply refused the application. Being a practicing MD with a license to practice in Ontario, I asked him for a monthly report on his OHIP earnings, the only source of income for most doctors in Ontario. As a specialist, he was billing over a million dollars per year. We have sent the reports, but have yet to receive a response. Of course, it would it have been more efficient for the doctor to just visit an immigration office, or for an immigration official to pop by the doctor’s office to check in.
  • Last year, we had a young Canadian stuck in a country which had a visa requirement. His wife was a Permanent Resident of Canada, but her card had expired and the Canadian embassy there did not have a visa office. They needed to talk to someone to get the credentials to come to Canada. They had written to the nearest visa office and got no response. I suggested they phone the embassy anyway, but to no avail. I then searched my virtual Rolodex for some numbers and suggested they call the visa office manager directly. I told them that the first question they would be asked is, “How did you get this number?” To which they should reply, “From the office of my MP, who happens to be a cabinet minister.” Problem solved.

I have more examples, but these best illustrate the problems in immigration in communicating with clients. The immigration apparatus in Canada and abroad needs is well on its way to becoming a system that is administered by nameless and faceless bureaucrats whose only goal is to push paper. It harms the people who want to come to Canada, and it harms Canada by keeping good, tax paying people from living a productive life. The simplest advice I have for immigration officials who want to make things better: pick up the phone when it rings.