A passport application is supposed to be a process that should take just under two months, with a final stamp on it.
That’s exactly the time that the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada says expats in Canada have to wait.
The board says the delays have resulted in a record number of applications being denied.
The number of expats waiting in line at the Canada Border Services Agency to apply for a visa to enter Canada has more than doubled in the past two years, and the agency says it’s aware of more than 100 applications being rejected because of delays.
A report released by the CBSA in December said there were more than 2,000 people waiting to be processed in the CBIS database at the end of February, and that the agency is still processing more than 1,000 applications.
Many people apply for visas and work abroad, but then find themselves in line for months to wait for a stamp on their passports.
“We are aware of some applicants that have been in the queue for months and months,” says Ian Fleming, an immigration lawyer with the Toronto firm Kroll & Co. Fleming says the delay has put some Canadian expat workers at risk.
“The Canadian public is suffering because people are having to wait in line to apply, and it’s hurting the economy and it is hurting the government,” he says.
“There’s no way we can continue to operate without having that extra burden of having to deal with the backlog.”
Fleming says there are two main reasons why people are delaying visas.
“One is the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty around visa applications,” he explains.
In the case of the delay, Fleming says it could have consequences for Canadian workers and the economy. “
In the end, we’re talking about people that have not been through the proper processes, and therefore they have to apply in another way.”
In the case of the delay, Fleming says it could have consequences for Canadian workers and the economy.
“It could lead to an increase in joblessness and unemployment could be a very serious issue, because there are people out there that are unemployed and there’s no other jobs,” he said.
A CBSA spokesperson said that while delays have become common in recent years, it’s always the agency’s goal to expedite the process for Canadians who need to travel to and work in Canada.
“For people who apply for their passport to enter the country, we process them in an expedited manner, and in our case, that means that applicants must wait two months for their stamp, which means that the CBP (Canadian Border Services agency) is waiting for another visa application from an applicant,” said spokesperson Jennifer Stahl.
“If an applicant does not apply within that two-month period, the CBM will process the application.
However, we also encourage applicants to submit their application electronically to expedited processing.”
For those who do need to wait, Fleming recommends that Canadians who want to apply should follow a few simple rules: do not apply to a friend, relative or family member who already has a passport; do not go to a Canadian airport to apply; do all of the following: apply online at the CBSC website; apply online through the mail; and submit your application by the scheduled date of your intended trip.
If you need help with an application, you can call the CBMS office at 1-866-387-3530.