Hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens hopefully wait for their applications to be processed
In March 2020, Minakshi believes that her Canadian citizenship journey is about to end because Canadian immigration, refugees and citizenship set a date for her exam.
Then, on March 11, just a week before her scheduled citizenship exam, the world changed because the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
IRCC cancelled all exams, including her, except for several “urgent” exams held virtually.
Minakshi said: “We understand, we are trying to cooperate.”
However, several months have passed before the department resumed testing, and it was converted online at the end of November.
Backlog of tests increased during the pandemic
According to data obtained by CBC News, Minakshi is one of hundreds of thousands of people who have fallen into a waiting state.
In a series of internal IRCC emails, employees acknowledged that the backlog of permanent residents preparing for citizenship testing has increased from 87,000 in March 2020 to 102,000 at the beginning of this year.
The information also showed that as of the end of January, a total of 311,259 people were waiting to go through the entire citizenship application process.
Of these, 102,989 waited 13 to 18 months-865 waited more than four years.
“120 applicants are like the size of a medium-sized city in Canada,” said Ahsan Umar, the head of the temporary advocacy group of the civil rights advocacy group.
The team made a request for access to information, which showed numbers and internal department emails.
Umar said: “Because of our current situation, we all know reasonable delays.” “But when there is a lack of transparency and unreasonable delays, this in itself brings deep sadness to people.”
For Minakshi, who came to Canada 10 years ago and lives in London, Ontario, this also adds to the job search problem.
She has only one name, which is not uncommon in the part where she comes from India. She wants to pursue a real estate career in Canada and obtain a surname. But to do this legally, she first needs to pass a citizenship test.
Since 2018, she estimated that she had paid up to $600 to renew her permanent resident card and Indian passport, and scanned her fingerprints three times to help IRCC conduct criminal background checks. She must regularly process citizenship applications Perform redo.
Although Minakshi started to apply for Canadian citizenship in 2018, she has not received a new test invitation, and she does not understand why it is her responsibility to pay for the new scan, because her actions did not cause any delay.
“You know, every morning, I am not doing my daily work, but checking the phone. Every day, do I receive an email? Do I need to prepare for my citizenship exam?”
Toronto resident Ben Mansoura (Ben Mansoura), another permanent resident, successfully became one of the first 5,000 candidates to accept an invitation to take the December online exam.
However, the senior IT manager must have access to his information request before he can find out that he has passed it.
He is still waiting for the results of his criminal background and language qualifications, and there is no sign of when the evidence will arrive.
“The agent on the phone is almost like:’Why are you calling us?'” Mansoura said, whenever he called IRCC to get the latest information.
In 2019, he does not have the right to vote in the federal election, and he is worried that if the election continues to be delayed indefinitely, he may still be unable to vote in the next election, which is expected to take place later this year.
“I really want to participate in the progress of this country,” Mansoura said. He arrived in Canada from the Czech Republic in 2012. “I feel unwelcome here, I feel that I have not been treated equally.”
Minister: More digital tests are coming “soon”
Some of the internal IRCC emails in the 353-page document obtained by the Ahsan Umar team can be traced back to the start of the online test. Employees began to accept the so-called “active plan” and started the pilot project with 5,000 test invitations. By the end of 2020.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino was unable to conduct an interview on this issue, but at a recent press conference, he asked people who are still waiting to “keep their faith.”
He said: “More digital tests and civic ceremonies will come soon.”
In a follow-up statement from CBC News, IRCC stated that as of the end of April, it had issued 65,893 online exam invitations and 43,697 people had completed the citizenship exam.
Raj Sharma, an immigration lawyer based in Calgary, said: “Immigration officials also have to fight for this.”
A glimpse of the numbers obtained by CBC News, he said that he had expected the backlog caused by the pandemic to become more serious.
But Sharma said that there is no explanation for so many people waiting so long.
He said: “It is clear that before the pandemic, before the excuse of the pandemic, there were delays in certain applications.”
Watch | Basic workers, new ways for graduates to obtain permanent residency:
Sharma said: “It does seem that there are some encouraging signs that spring is coming.” Sharma pointed to the smoother online testing process now.
But for Minakshi, this is not comforting: “If I receive a fourth fingerprint request next year, I will withdraw my files,” she said.