The Current

Immigration delays leave thousands of couples in limbo

No health care, no approval to seek work. and no idea when it will change. Thousands of individuals who fell in love with Canadians and are here hoping to build a future with immigration status, and eventually citizenship, say they are at the mercy of a back-logged Immigration system.
Blair Hacche, Jenn Ward and their baby son Dexter. Hacche can't work in Canada until the CIC approves gives initial approval of his application for permanent residency - a process which at the time of writing, takes 16 months. (CBC)

"You have all these people in Canada without health care. This is just an atrocity. And I ask you, sir, I beg of you, to help us." - Protester asking PM Stephen Harper to to help non-Canadian spouses of Canadian citizens gain immigration status.

Protesters who gathered outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada building in Ottawa yesterday are upset about the amount of time it takes for the non-Canadian spouses of Canadian citizens to gain immigration status in this country.

Canadians who fall in love with someone of another nationality can face daunting obstacles to starting a life together in Canada. If their spouse is living here already, they face a 25-month waiting period for their application to be processed. That waiting period has grown longer over the past two years, leaving thousands of families in limbo.

And while they wait for status, these spouses are not eligible for health care, can't leave the country, and most can not work.

Our three guests have intimate experiences with this issue. They're each one-half of a couple that is waiting for an application to be processed.

Angie Rodriguez was in Montreal.

Melissa Anetoh was in Saskatoon.

Michael Bordwine was in Toronto.

We requested interviews with Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary or a representative from the department. No one was made available.

Klaudios Mustakas is a former manager at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. He worked there for 37 years. He's now a senior immigration adviser for the Pace Law Firm in Waterloo, Ontario. 

Are you in immigration limbo? Do you have a personal story to share with us?

Contact us by e-mail through our website. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.