‘A waiting game’: Families wonder why immigration applications in limbo with influx of asylum seekers – Manitoba

With a steady stream of asylum seekers sneaking across the border, some families are wondering why it’s taking so long to process immigration applications to get their family members to Canada.

Parmeet Shaw, 43, applied through Manitoba’s provincial nominee program to bring her parents to Winnipeg from India six years ago. That application is still being processed.

“I have all the sympathy for all the refugees and everyone who wants to come Canada because Canada is definitely a better place,” Shaw told CBC News. “But what about processing the files that are already in the pipeline?”

Since January, about 130 asylum seekers have walked into Manitoba near Emerson.

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Ken Zaifman said refugee claims and sponsorship applications fall under completely separate immigration streams and the processing of one does not impact the other.

But Shaw is concerned the provincial and federal governments are not allocating enough resources to deal with the current backlog of immigration applications.

“It’s just a waiting game every time we try and contact them. The phone lines are constantly busy or it throws you in a loop so you can never ever talk to a person,” she said, adding the last update on their application came in August 2015 when her parents were required to complete medical evaluations.

Shaw said the long wait time and lack of communication is taking its toll.

“My parents couldn’t be here for even my wedding. They have missed most of our life events,” she said. 

Delays, challenges to every program

Zaifman agreed that application times in some cases are too long.

The challenge before the federal and provincial governments is to manage the optics and immigration expectations as the flow of refugees across border continues, he said.

“People are frustrated because they see someone who is here now, by walking across the border, as opposed to their parents, who have been waiting in the home country for years, waiting to be…

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