Here is a report about the joint meeting ICC had with the officials from Ministry of Immigration and Ministry of Public Safety:
On Thursday April 12, 2018 representatives of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) together with Mr. Vincent Valaï, representing a group of impacted applicants, met with officials from Ministry of Immigration and the Ministry of Public Safety to discuss significant delays Iranian applicants face in their immigration process. Bijan Ahmadi (President), Mohsen Khaniki (PR Director) and Younes Zangiabadi (Policy Associate) were present in the meeting on behalf of the ICC. The Vice President of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Director of International Network for Europe, Middle East, and Africa were in attendance as well.
The ICC communicated the following points with the officials at the meeting:
- Around 300 Iranian in-land applicants (mostly students and recent graduates) have approached the ICC in recent months as they are facing long and extended delays in their PR application process.
- Across different immigration streams Iranian applicants are waiting for significantly longer period of time in compare to the average wait time stated by the IRCC.
- While IRCC representatives have said in recent media interviews that 80% of overall applicants receive the results of their applications within the average processing time, based on public data and self report data Iranian applications represent a disproportionate volume of the 20% of the delayed applications. Self reported data shows that over 50% of Iranian PR applicants experience significant delays.
- The problem is not limited to Iranian in-land applicants and Iranian students here in Canada. Iranian outland applicants, visa applicants, citizenship applicants are also facing significant delays.
- There have been frequent complaints regarding the delay in processing Iranian applications at Canadian visa offices including the Paris visa office.
- Public data and self reported data point out to a possible and concerning trend of Iranian applications being targeted and singled out for extra security screening causing significant delays in the processing of these applications.
- Looking at the number of approved Iranian PR applications it’s also clear that the number of approved PRs for Iranians have dropped significant since 2014. While there has been no drop in the number of applications from Iran, the number of PR admissions from Iran in 2017 is the lowest number for the period of time we looked at since 1996.
Vincent Valaï informed the Ministers’ staff and officials that he is representing more than 200 Iranian citizens (collective inland and collective outland) and that he just sent two demand letters on behalf of the 2 groups in reference to the excessive delays that his clients are experiencing. He explained the profile of the members of the two collectives and mentioned the serious prejudice his clients are experiencing, urging the officials to take urgent measures to end the excessive delays.
The following comments were made by officials from the Ministry of Immigration and the Ministry of Public Safety present in the meeting:
- Officials from both ministries emphasized and repeated multiple times during the meeting that there has been absolutely no policy change with respect to reviewing Iranian applications.
- Officials from the CBSA mentioned that they are responsible for the security screening component of the immigration applications. They mentioned that there are delays across the system because of resource allocation, prioritization and inefficiencies in their internal processes.
- The CBSA VP stated that he has instructed his team to review to security screening process and to urgently come up with a solution to resolve the problem. The ICC representatives and Vincent Valaï insisted the CBSA to commit to a specific timeline. They refused to provide a timeline but committed to resolving the problem and the delays.
- One of the Policy Directors attending from the Ministry of Immigration mentioned that there is a need to further look into the drop in the number of PR admissions from Iran. He said that the self reported data or the public data we have provided must be broken down into different streams and the impact of special programs for asylum seekers must be taken into account. He agreed to look into this matter and provide us with clarification and accurate data.
- The officials repeatedly mentioned that they cannot treat one group of applicants differently. The ICC representatives and Vincent Valaï clarified for them that Iranian applicants are not looking for any special treatment but rather a fair and consistent process that would not target them and delay their applications for much longer than the average it takes for processing applications from other nationalities.
- The Director for National operations mentioned that they have been dealing with lack of resources and increasing volume of applications in visa offices including the Paris visa office. He mentioned that they are allocating more staff to the visa offices this summer to deal with the increased volume of applications.
- In response to the ICC request for the Ministry of Immigration to open a Visa Application Centre in Iran the Director of International Network said that they do not have any plan to open a Visa Centre in Iran at the moment and it is a matter that requires coordination with Global Affairs Canada.
Here is the list of demands that the ICC communicated with the officials during the meeting:
- Complete the review of the current delayed in-land visa, study, work permits, PR and citizenship applications of Iranians in 30 days.
- Revise security screening policy for Iranian applications and resolve any systematic problems leading to the current delays.
- Investigate the reason of the significant drop in the approval rate of Iranian PR applications and resolve any systematic problem causing the drop.
- Restore the PR admission rates of Iranians to the 2014 numbers consistent with approval rate for applicants from other countries.
- Any extra security screening singling out Iranians shall be removed immediately.
- The government shall come up with a better plan to accommodate outland Iranian visa and PR applications. Opening a Visa Application Centre in Iran will facilitate the application process for Iranian applicants living in Iran.
The ICC representatives and Vincent Valaï both clearly communicated with the officials that legal options are also available to address this issue impacting Iranians.