STATEMENT MADE BY DAVID MILLICOM IN CANADIAN PARLIAMENT :
Mr. David Manicom (Immigration Program Manager (New Delhi), Area Director (South Asia), Department of Citizenship and Immigration):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the committee for inviting me to speak.
My name is David Manicom, and I am Program Manager of the New Delhi visa office, and Area Director for South Asia. I would like to provide a short overview emphasizing topics which I understand are of most interest to the committee.
New Delhi is Canada's largest visa office, with over 150 staff. We are responsible for delivery of the immigration program in India, Nepal and Bhutan. A satellite office in Chandigarh processes temporary residence applications, primarily from the states of Punjab and Haryana. We operate a network of visa application centres in nine major Indian cities and in Nepal, to facilitate the handling of temporary resident applications. Over 90% of applicants choose to use these centres. On an average business day, we render decisions on over 500 applications —more than one per minute.
While I understand temporary resident programs are not of most direct interest to the committee at this time, I do want to spend a moment on this topic, as it is important to understand the overall operation in Delhi, and how resources are managed.
As has been the case for China, India has barely been affected by the world economic crisis, and its economic growth has continued at a rapid pace. Thus, our visitor, study permit and work permit programs have grown very rapidly in the past decade, roughly tripling in size. This pattern continued in 2010 with an increase of about 20% over 2009 volumes. New Delhi assessed over 93,000 temporary resident applications last year, and will receive over 1,000 passports on peak days.
The program is highly seasonal. Intake in spring is more than triple that in January. We cross-train officers and inject resources from the immigrant units in order to remain current on all temporary resident business lines at all times. Doing so reduces the non-value added work generated by delays, and over time preserves the maximum amount of resources for immigrant processing. It does mean, however, that our unit, which processes skilled workers and investors, will have 13 or so officers in the winter, but only six in the summer.
Delhi does high-volume processing in a high-potential value-added but high-risk environment, where fraud is endemic. To deal with that situation, we have developed several innovative programs where we work closely with stakeholders to manage risk and facilitate low-risk travellers.
For example, our business express program, in cooperation with about 55 large and reliable firms doing regular business in Canada, provides simplified documentation, 24- to 48-hour processing, and an approval rate of over 98%. We think that's important to help Canada meet its objective of dramatically increasing trade with India as India evolves into an economic global power. By streaming these applications separately, we also realize internal efficiencies, conserving our resources for in-depth review of higher-risk cases.
Our student partners program, inaugurated in New Delhi in 2009, and now with 40 participating community colleges, has succeeded in significantly improving approval rates, quadrupling application volumes and permits issued, while managing risk through stricter documentation and feedback information on actual attendance by the schools.
In each of our temporary resident business lines, processing times are falling and are faster than the global norm. For example, 88% of all visitor visa applications are finalized within one week, and over a third of them within two days.
With regard to permanent residents, India has been Canada's second-largest source of permanent residents in recent years. New Delhi issued over 25,000 permanent resident visas last year. New Delhi has by far Canada's largest family class program and also, unfortunately, the largest inventory of economic category applications.
New Delhi issues about 20% of the global family class visas each year. In our priority category, spouses and dependent children, we finalize 80% of cases within six months and the median is four months.
In the parents and grandparents category, output is managed globally. We process sufficient cases each year to meet the objective assigned to the office. Current processing time at the office is 30 months. This does not include sponsorship time at CPC Mississauga.
The primary challenge in the sponsored spouses program is determining whether or not marriages are genuine. Marriages of convenience are common. However, the large majority of marriages are genuine, with about 85% being approved. The majority of cases do not require interviews. However, we provide extensive training to our officers on local law and custom, and if questions about marriages of convenience arise, officers do lengthy interviews to attempt to ensure there is a genuine relationship. We schedule interviews shortly after receiving the applications so that even cases requiring an interview are not significantly delayed.
With regard to sponsored parents and grandparents, the primary difficulty relates to the misrepresentation of dependent children. Many families in our caseload provide fraudulent documentation showing children are still full-time students, or add unrelated children to their files. As applicants are generally elderly, these cases are also frequently delayed by complex medical conditions.
New Delhi has the largest inventory of skilled worker cases submitted prior to the ministerial instructions. Significant progress was made in 2008-09 in reducing the pre-2008 inventory from over 140,000 persons to about 99,000 today, a decrease of over 30%. The processing time for these cases continues to lengthen, and was at 82 months in 2010. For all but a few months of that time, the cases are not in active process, but consume resources through managing correspondence. Owing to the number of new cases submitted under ministerial instructions, we processed few old inventory cases in 2010.
Indian nationals are the highest-volume applicants under the current ministerial instructions. At the present time, we are devoting all available resources to the quick processing of new cases received pursuant to Bill C-50. In 2010 we finalized 80% of all these cases within 10 months. Given the volume of intake under the first set of ministerial instructions, we will not be able to further reduce the inventory of older cases this year.
New Delhi issued over 11,900 skilled worker visas in 2010, an increase from about 8,300 in 2009.
I would also like to note that New Delhi is quickly becoming one of the major source countries for provincial nominee programs. This program was quite small in India until recently, but tripled in size between 2008 and 2010.
Finally, I understand that the committee has a particular interest in the federal investor program. This program was very small in New Delhi in the past, with few applications prior to 2007. Intake has increased significantly in the past two years. Given our very large skilled worker inventory, and the largest global family class program, we are not able yet to give a high priority to this new caseload. In 2010 we processed 80% of cases within 28 months, somewhat faster than the global average. We approved only about half of the cases in 2010.
We believe this recent increase is primarily due to the priority afforded to the investor applicants over other business immigration categories. The applicants are mainly small farmers with landholdings of 10 acres or so. This profile of individual previously applied in the self-employed category, but as our processing in that category is much slower, they are shifting into the investor category. Due to the rising cost of land on the margins of major Indian cities, these small farmers, mainly in the Punjab, can now meet minimum net worth requirements, and normally have at least five farmhands to meet the minimum employee requirements.
The percentage of investor program applicants who are major business persons of high net worth is very small.
This is a quick tour d'horizon of just some of our programs. We are working hard to advance Canada's interests in India. I would be happy to answer any questions the committee might have.
i have received the feedback from a reliable source that New Delhi does not exceed the set timelines nor do they go ahead of it .