Where is officer DM10032? Applicants stumped, stranded by idle immigration worker
'Please, officer, do your job. I want my life back,' pleads applicant from Nigeria
Would-be immigrants around the world are seeking information about a Canadian immigration officer who has left their applications largely untouched for years. They wonder if the person is still working, assigned to their case or even exists.
Several permanent residency (PR) applicants told CBC News they've been assigned to an officer they know only as "DM10032" at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
They all live outside of Canada, applied in 2019, and their files have been largely stuck since March 2020. Applications are processed at both the Ottawa visa office and in Sydney, N.S.
Applicants who spoke to CBC News say they know dozens of others under DM10032 and have rallied together online for moral support. They describe their experience as agonizing and traumatic, unable to make critical life decisions as they wait with limited communication from Canada's immigration department while others' applications are processed faster. Before the pandemic, the whole process was estimated to take about six months.
"I feel victimized," said Temitope Ogunlade of Nigeria, who's been waiting for her PR for more than two years.
"Please, I am pleading with this officer DM10032 … Please, officer, do your job. I want my life back."
CBC News has read through online forums where many shared their progress and frustrations — they call DM10032 "slow," "useless," "silent," and even speculate they might be on vacation or, joking, "asleep."
IRCC officers are represented as codes under its administrative system. For example, AB12345.
"The last I've heard from my officer was around March 14, 2020. That was the last time that I saw that there was some action being done on my file," said Jibi Mathews, who's been waiting in India since November 2019.
On Wednesday, the same day CBC contacted IRCC for comment, Mathews says she got a notification that her medical exams were finally uploaded — a small step forward and the first activity she's seen for a year and 10 months.
Mathews applied when her daughter was a year old.
"Now she's three years old. I wanted to ensure my daughter has a safer future," she said.
"I have gone through depression multiple times. Constant anxiety and paranoia as to what is going to happen to my application — are they going to process it? Are they going to scrap it?"
Sehrish Saeed from Pakistan says she couldn't commit to any full-time jobs in the past two years of waiting, and has been working as a visiting lecturer at a university.
"If I had known about the delay … I'd never have applied," said Saeed, whose says her mental and physical health are suffering.
Saeed's father — who dreamed of his daughter immigrating to Canada — died in October 2020.
"He used to ask me about the progress all the time," said Saeed, who applied in November 2019. "It makes me really sad, it makes my mother sad."
Ogunlade, from Nigeria, says she feels abandoned by IRCC since applying in November 2019.
Ogunlade said she's "suspicious and worried" about the officer's whereabouts. Her dream to pursue dentistry in Canada has been crushed.
"The emotional torture was so much."
Others have had better luck. One applicant wrote online that, after three years, their file got transferred to another agent who approved it within a month: "I have finally escaped."
CBC heard from one applicant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, who recently got movement on their application after two years of waiting under DM10032.
"To be candid, I don't know which [method] worked: the local MP? My daily compassionate mail to IRCC? Or the physical plea letter and the re-medical update that I sent to the centralized intake office in Sydney?" the applicant wrote.
"I am glad that the agonizing wait is over … but I am very concerned about the applicants still waiting all over the world."
Some theorize that DM10032 is not an actual person, but a code for applicants who are waiting in queue.
That was the case with a supposed officer — CB01126, based in Sydney — with whom thousands of applicants had much difficulty.
In an access to information request seen by CBC News, IRCC admitted CB01126 was just a "placeholder" code.
Ministry confirms employee's status
In an emailed response Monday evening, IRCC told CBC that DM10032 is, in fact, "an active employee."
"We do not comment on personal details," the department wrote. "The processing of an application involves more than one officer and applicants can be assured that their application is moving forward even if they have not received a specific update from IRCC."
The department acknowledged that many applicants have had to wait a long time, and attributed it, in part, to the pandemic and restrictions.
"We continue to work as hard as possible to reduce processing times. We thank them for their patience and understanding at this moment."
'Nameless and faceless'
Jamie Liew, an immigration lawyer and University of Ottawa associate professor, says IRCC's administrative system is a "black hole" and that its lack of transparency is concerning.
"Officers are often nameless and faceless and because of this anonymity … it does affect the way decisions are made," said Liew.
"You're at the whim of the system."
Liew acknowledges there's a huge demand put on IRCC and that it has pandemic backlogs.
But without legal representation — which is expensive and not accessible for some — she says it's difficult to know exactly why someone's file isn't moving forward.
"The immigration system and the government seemingly doesn't want us to see how the sausage is made, so to speak. You submit your application and you're supposed to just wait," said Liew.
"They shouldn't be shielded by these codes or anonymous numbers. And how do we ensure... accountability?"
- UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect IRCC's comments. CBC contacted the department on Jan. 19, 2022. The department did not respond before the article published, but sent an emailed response on the evening of Jan. 24, 2022.