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Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’ for skilled immigrants

Click to play video: 'Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’' Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’
WATCH: After Global News found a substantial delay in the immigration process for a Halifax man, more cases have come to light. Two skilled workers came to Nova Scotia in 2017 to pursue a career with a high-tech company. They have decided to make Nova Scotia their home, but have waited more than a year for any action on their file. Alexa MacLean has the story – Feb 19, 2021

A skilled foreign worker who immigrated to Nova Scotia in 2017 is expressing her frustration over waiting more than a year to have her permanent resident (PR) application completed.

“It’s just mind boggling that they expect temporary foreign workers, people who want to stay here, to stay here with all of that uncertainty and not be able to make life decisions,” Karen Simpson, a Dutch citizen who has been waiting since February 2020 to receive her PR card, said.

Karen Simpson and her husband work for a Nova Scotia company that is a ‘designated employer’ under the Atlantic Immigration Program. Submitted: Karen Simpson

The company Simpson works for is a designated employer under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. The program originally launched as a pilot in 2017 to be used as a tool for Atlantic Canada employers to hire skilled immigrants.

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“Which means temporary foreign workers like myself, can apply through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, become sponsored by our employer and the province of Nova Scotia and therefore be able to directly apply for permanent residency under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program,” Simpson said.

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The program is now permanent and called the Atlantic Immigration Program. Simpson applied for her permanent residence card, along with her husband, last  February.

Going by the six-month processing time the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website suggests applications take, she expected to have their PR cards by August 2020.

Simpson says she still doesn’t have a case number to track the progress of her application.

“It’s unreasonable for it to take over a year for an application to be processed,” she said.

Lauren Sankey an IRCC communications adviser sent an email to Global News stating that “global migration has been upended by the pandemic. From widespread travel restrictions to employees working remotely, it has had a significant impact on IRCC’s work.”

Sankey goes on to write that IRCC systems are “ramping back up” and that IRCC offices are beginning to reopen across Canada.

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Simpson says she understands that the pandemic has disrupted workplaces across the country but doesn’t understand how the federal government hasn’t adapted its IRCC operations to keep up with the processing of immigration applications.

“It cannot be that it’s twice, or thrice, times more difficult for this process to continue,” she said.

On Feb. 13, the federal government issued more than 27,000 invitations to skilled immigrants to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry System.

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), a points-based system used to rank candidates in the Express Entry Pool, also significantly dropped.

On Jan. 21, the lowest CRS score a candidate could have was 454. On Feb. 13, that number dropped to 75.

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Global News has requested information from the IRCC about why the CRS has significantly dropped and is awaiting a response.

Simpson takes issue with the federal government inviting thousands more skilled workers to apply for permanent residence when applications like hers are still awaiting completion after more than a year.

“I’ve been told time and time again, that the applications are processed based on date of receipt,” she said.

Sankey says processing times on the IRCC website should be used as a “guideline only.”

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