Applications for permanent residence from spouses, common law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children have the highest priority, along with children to be adopted. Other members of the family class follow. These are operational, not regulatory priorities. The department aims to process 80% of sponsorship and permanent resident applications of this priority group of spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners, and dependant children within six months.
Meanwhile, on the Citizenship and Immigration website, you can find the actual processing times for spousal cases at visa offices abroad. Of the 44 offices that submitted information, only 6 offices met the 80%/6 month target. This includes cases which resulted in a refusal. According to the numbers, if you have fallen in love or entered into an arranged marriage in Kenya, you can expect to wait an average of 29 months for your application to be processed. In Abu Dhabi, you have a slightly shorter wait of 27 months.
When looking at these cold numbers, it would appear visa offices and the ministry are not aware of their own 80%/6 month policy. If they are, then they must be choosing to ignore it.
We have noticed that processing times are growing in this category. We have to ask ourselves – WHY? Why can Beijing process spousal cases in 4 months, and New Delhi in 6 months, while others take so much longer that it would be laughable – if it weren’t so frustrating.
Unfortunately, the powers that be hold all the cards. It is they who decide the processing times, and it is they who decide if they want to honour those processing times. One thing you do have, however, is a voice and a vote. If you have sponsored a spouse and are awaiting a decision that is long overdue, write the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or contact your local MP. With the election on May 2nd, they may be more inclined to listen to your complaint.