Thursday, August 29, 2013


Deadline looms as thousands of ‘forgotten’ would-be immigrants await decision

Deadline looms as thousands of ‘forgotten’ would-be immigrants await decision



MONTREAL, QUE.: DECEMBER 4, 2012-- McGill University graduate and immigrant from Iran, Alireza Saberi, poses for a photograph in his neighbourhood of Cote-des-Neiges in Montreal on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Saberi's Canadian residency has already been delayed for two years after the federal government closed the Buffalo visa office and transferred applications to the Ottawa office. (Dario Ayala for Postmedia News) For Tobi Cohen (Postmedia News) 1205-immigrant-Buffalo ORG XMIT: POS1212041457430813

Photograph by: Dario Ayala for Postmedia News, Postmedia News

OTTAWA — The federal government remains confident that the majority of so-called “forgotten” Buffalo immigration applications will be completed by the end of the season as promised even though new figures suggest nearly 40 per cent of the files have yet to be processed.
With just a month to go before summer draws to an end, 3,568 applications remain in the queue, according to the figures obtained by Postmedia News and considered up-to-date as of Aug. 20.
“Most of the files that were transferred from Buffalo to the Ottawa processing office will be completed by the end of summer 2013,” Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Sonia Lesage said in an email.
“For the majority of immigration streams, new applications submitted to Ottawa are being processed more quickly than they were during the same time last year in Buffalo.”
Lesage suggested the ongoing strike by foreign service workers will not impact the processing of the remaining Buffalo files. Several foreign visa offices were shut down as a result of the strike and the central processing centre has had to take on some of the burden as a result.
Some 9,417 files, many of them recent university graduates with in-demand skills, were transferred to Ottawa when the government closed the upstate New York visa office in May 2012 after announcing foreign students and workers living in Canada would no longer have to leave the country to renew a visa or apply for permanent residency.
Citizenship and Immigration, however, came under fire in December after antsy applicants — a number of whom had already waited as long as two years for their papers while watching others who applied later get their permanent residency before them — started to complain about delays.
The NDP accused overworked and understaffed citizenship officers of simply forgetting about the boxes of Buffalo files sitting in the corner after the move as many of the applicants hadn’t even received a file number much less been assigned a case worker which meant their applications were still in the very early stages of processing.
The government acknowledged delays of around 15 months at the time and promised the Buffalo files would be completed by the end of summer 2013.
According to the figures released by Citizenship and Immigration, 4,982 Buffalo files have so far been approved, 483 were refused and 384 were withdrawn.
The bulk of files, including the majority of pending files, involve skilled worker and provincial applicants

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