An Eastern Townships man involved in sponsoring eight refugee families is calling on the federal government to decrease the wait time between a family's approval and when they arrive in Canada. 

Paul McLean has been working non-stop alongside his family and his church to sponsor refugee Iraqi families.

On Friday, he found out three of those families have been approved to come to Canada. 

"I know how important and how major this is for the families, so my eyes teared up," he said.

"I quickly got on the phone and text and email to lots of people."

Barbar family

The Barbar family has been approved to immigrate to Sherbrooke, but is anticipating a wait time of 11 months before coming to Canada. (Paul McLean)

However, the next step for those families is more complicated than hopping on a flight from their refugee camp in Jordan.

The average processing wait time for refugees is 11 months.

That's unacceptable to McLean.

After spending Christmas in Jordan with the families, he says they've become like family to him — and he says it's vital they arrive as soon as possible.

"They've processed 25,000 folks in the last couple of months," he said.

"But for private sponsors the average wait time is 11 months. I'm not quite sure that is. I'd love them to answer that question."

Many factors at play: federal government

Faith St-John, a spokesperson for the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, confirmed the government used "expedited" measures to process 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

But she said those cases don't reflect "regular" processing times. 

The speed at which applications are processed depends on volume of application, security in their region of origin, and how quickly requirements such as security screening and medical examinations can be completed, St- John said.

"Refugee processing is complex, due to working with some of the world's most at-risk people in challenging local conditions," she said in an emailed statement.