Family’s 2-Year Wait for Grandma’s Visitor Visa Finally Ends


Second request, $100 fee and more than two years later, Ottawa woman who demanded to know why her 79-year-old mother’s visa application failed says family’s wait is finally over finished.

Charlotte Clarke told CBC News in July that her family was exhausted wondering why her mother, Victoria, had waited so long for a visa that others were getting within weeks.

Now she has finally arrived in Canada for her long-awaited visit to see her grandchildren.

« It just felt unreal to me, » Charlotte Clarke said, thinking back to the trip. « It was infuriating. »

Clarke had helped her mother, who lives in Gambia, a West African country, apply for a temporary visa in October 2020 from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal department that processes immigration applications and visas.

Clarke’s father, Malcolm, died of COVID-19 in August of that year. Her mother had been her primary caretaker for years, and Clarke said she wanted her to take a break and visit her two children and grandchildren in Ottawa.

Earlier this month, she landed in Ottawa after finally receiving her visitor’s visa after reapplying in September.

This time, it took IRCC about five weeks to process its second application from start to finish.

« We were thrilled, obviously, and everyone was happy for her because two years is a long time, » Clarke said.

« I feel great… But the trip to be with her wasn’t exactly pleasant, » Victoria Clarke said, watching Charlotte from the kitchen table in her Ottawa home.

« That sums it all up – relief. »

Charlotte Clarke, left, kisses her mother Victoria Clarke at her kitchen table. Charlotte says the lack of communication and the long wait for her mother’s visa – which is expected to take a few weeks to process – was « maddening ». (Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang/CBC)

Stranded applicants worried, ‘baffled’ about reapplying

In response to the Clarke family story, IRCC told CBC that some applicants may reapply for visas, especially if they have not yet received a response and applied before September 7, 2021. when the Canadian government finally opened its borders to fully vaccinated people. travellers.

Since publishing their story, CBC has heard from dozens of others who have also waited years for visas for their family members from around the world. They wondered if a new request was the best solution, because they would waste time and money and start from scratch.

Said Izawi, who lives in Montreal, is one of them.

He said he celebrated his « second anniversary » of waiting for his parents’ super visa last Sunday, after helping them apply to come from Syria on November 20, 2020.

There is no logic behind it. Like, why?– Said Izawi

« I was very naive. I was hoping they would come and spend Christmas 2020 with us, » said Izawi, who hasn’t seen his parents for five years. « Christmas 2021 is over and over… now it’s 2022. »

Izawi said his family was « baffled » by IRCC’s suggestion that applicants reapply.

« There’s no logic behind it. Like, why? » he said. « That doesn’t make sense…why would anyone need to do that. What about the other app? »

A man and a woman smile at the camera.
Said Izawi’s parents are seen here. Izawi has been waiting for their super visa from IRCC for more than two years and said he was « baffled » by IRCC’s advice that he should spend thousands of dollars and reapply for the visa. (Submitted by Said Izawi)

IRCC charges a fee of $100 per person to apply for a visa. The medical insurance Izawi bought for his parents – a requirement for a super visa – cost around $4,000 and has since expired.

« It’s money thrown away, » Izawi said. « This is an app I’ve been waiting two years for – am I going to have to kill it now and start a new one? And god knows how long that will take. »

IRCC did not give a direct answer to CBC’s question about the now-expired medical insurance, saying the family’s application had been in the « background check » phase since February 2021.

IRCC explains why some visas were left behind

An IRCC spokesperson explained that between March 2020 and September 6, 2021, the department prioritized applications from those who were exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Visa applications submitted before September 7, 2021 were placed in a « queue for non-urgent processing », the IRCC said.

This has led to « the accumulation of a large inventory of visitor visa applications », according to the department.

IRCC has started working on the backlog, but said most of these earlier applications will take longer due to their « complexity due to potentially outdated documents and information » and « changing circumstances ». .

That’s why they’re asking some people to reapply, the department said.

People enter the CD Howe building in downtown Ottawa, which houses Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, last winter. IRCC says many applications submitted before Canada lifted travel restrictions could include documents that are now out of date. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

IRCC also said those who withdraw applications may be eligible for refunds – only if the agency has not started processing them.

But its website says there are « no guarantees » and, furthermore, applicants will not receive written confirmation that they have been withdrawn.

That’s part of the problem, Clarke said.

« It seems unfair [for IRCC] receive … all these payments … [and] you are now saying your claim is null and void,” she said. “How can you conscientiously keep their money?

While Clarke said she, too, was worried about resubmitting, while it worked quickly, it didn’t come without difficulties.

She warned that IRCC’s online portal was not intuitive and said she had asked a family member for help « in tears ».

Still, Clarke has an answer for any contestants who don’t know what to do.

« My advice would be to reapply first. »

Two teenagers and a woman are sitting on a sofa, holding a picture of another woman and a baby.
From left, Adetunde Celine Joseph, Charlotte Clarke and Geneva Clarke are seen this summer holding a photo of Victoria Clarke, who at that time was still in The Gambia. (Jean Delisle/Radio-Canada)


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