On September 19, dozens of protesters gathered at the Montreal offices for Citizenship and Immigration to demand the prioritization of family sponsorship applications. The Montreal event was part of a series of protests that took place across Canada in Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto.
Several protesters carried cardboard cutouts of their significant other as a statement of what is missing in their life. In one heartbreaking case, a child held a sign that read “I NEED MY DADDY.”
Background: Canadian family sponsorship
During pre-COVID-19 work from home measures implemented by IRCC, spousal sponsorship applications usually took 12 months to process. IRCC is still quoting 12 months processing times for sponsorship applicants on their website, but for many at the protest, this is simply not the case. Applicants are facing indefinite delays with little information on when their applications will be approved and when they will be able to reunite with their loved ones.
“I would give anything to hold my husband… even for a minute. It’s been 9 months. But this is not about just me. My story is one of many.” – Misha Pelletier
The protesters are asking Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to address the backlog of spousal sponsorship applications and expedite their processing. They are also requesting a new class of temporary visa be granted to the spouses of Canadians so they can join them in Canada while they await the completion of their application.
ITC News previously covered the demands for a Special Temporary Resident Visa (STRV) for sponsorship applicants who are often denied a temporary resident visa. Applicants are denied for a variety of reasons but typically the refusal falls under Article 179b of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Being refused on the grounds of 179b means the visa officer is not satisfied the temporary resident will leave at the end of their visa. Article 179b however only applies to countries that need a visa and many at the protest insist this is a form of discrimination against low-income countries.
“The IRCC is not judging the applicant. The IRCC is judging their passport” – Bilanka Pia Moreno