OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on long processing delay

I am writing to you to echo the concerns I’ve been hearing from families who are experiencing long delays for spousal sponsorship applications and urge for your government to adjust the program to allow conditions for spouses to obtain temporary resident visas as part of the spousal sponsorship application process.
Immigration is an exercise in nation building, and I have always seen family reunification as a pivotal component of Canada’s immigration system. During the last 5 years as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have heard far too many heart wrenching stories of how families are kept apart due to long delays in processing. Indeed, the issue of long delays in processing for permanent residence applications is a longstanding one and I share the concerns experienced by families who remain separated while they wait on the spousal sponsorship application process, which has worsened under COVID-19.

"The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

10th July 2020

Dear Minister Mendicino,

I am writing to you to echo the concerns I’ve been hearing from families who are experiencing long delays for spousal sponsorship applications and urge for your government to adjust the program to allow conditions for spouses to obtain temporary resident visas as part of the spousal sponsorship application process.

Immigration is an exercise in nation building, and I have always seen family reunification as a pivotal component of Canada’s immigration system. During the last 5 years as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have heard far too many heart wrenching stories of how families are kept apart due to long delays in processing. Indeed, the issue of long delays in processing for permanent residence applications is a longstanding one and I share the concerns experienced by families who remain separated while they wait on the spousal sponsorship application process, which has worsened under COVID-19.

Recent calls from many Canadians affected by these delays have asked for the creation of special temporary resident visas that would allow spouses to reunite sooner while their application is being finalized, provided that certain criteria are met. As a concrete solution to address these concerns of long separations, I am supportive of these calls. The campaign included a number of very reasonable eligibility criteria for consideration, including the requirement for the applicant to pay for COVID-19 testing, to implement self-isolation measures and to pass a criminality check. With so much thought and consideration having been put into these suggestions, it is clear that Canadians going through this process simply want to be able to be with their loved ones in a timely manner and are more than willing to work with the government to find a reasonable solution to make that happen.

It’s worth noting that this is not a new proposal. In the NDP’s supplementary report to the report tabled by CIMM in March 2017, entitled Family Reunification, I made the recommendation for the government to “provide temporary resident visas to sponsored spouses when the application has been approved in principle,” based on evidence put forward by witnesses to the committee.

Minister Mendicino, I acknowledge that processing times for spousal sponsorships have seen improvements under your government, but families are still subject to long waits. This is why I am urging you to implement these measures to facilitate the reunification of loved ones. Now more than ever, I believe the government has a responsibility to reunite spouses who are currently forced to navigate these trying times separately.

Sincerely,
Jenny Kwan
Member of Parliament for Vancouver East
NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship"
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