Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Citizenship and Immigration Canada is patting itself on the back these days for having reduced the backlog of permanent resident applications by forty percent since its high water mark in 2008.
When it comes to the processing of citizenship applications, however, the same government department is far less effusive with self-praise. And with good reason. Not that long ago, a routine citizenship application would move through the system in about one year. Today, the average processing time on a run-of-the-mill application is 23 months – even longer in some parts of the country. Keep in mind, the option to apply only arrives after three years of permanent residency status.
Worse still is the plight of anyone whose case is not routine. About twenty percent of applicants fall into this category and they are required to complete a ‘residence questionnaire’ to demonstrate that they have actually been residing in Canada. Supporting documents such as pay stubs, tax returns and airline tickets must be submitted as evidence of time spent in Canada. Fair enough, I suppose, if there is a suspicion of misrepresentation. After all, people have been known to scam the system and pretend to have resided in Canada when in fact they have not.
The problem is not in vetting citizenship applications, but rather in the time it is taking to complete the verification. The processing time for these more complicated applications is approximately five years from the date of initial submission, which makes it about nine years from the time the individual first landed in Canada.
No surprise that these would-be Canadians are angry and frustrated. Who wouldn’t be if they had worked, paid taxes and did all the things that Canadian citizens are expected to do but yet are not afforded the full rights and benefits of Canadian citizenship? If the government is truly committed to creating a ‘faster, more flexible’ immigration system, this undertaking should not cease once newcomers settle in Canada.