What’s taking so long?

For the last five years, my parents have been trying to sponsor my grandmother over from Cambodia. My dad’s mom is currently living here in Canada but my mom’s mom is still over in Cambodia. This process is starting to be a pain. I don’t know why it’s taking so long to get an approval from the branch of government that handles these applications. Someone over there is sure taking their sweet time to do their job.

Way back when I first started college, my parents filled out an application to sponsor my grandmother so she can live in Canada. My grandfather had passed away a few years before so all she had left were her children. My mom hasn’t seen my grandmother since the day she left Cambodia but she did get the chance to visit a few winters ago. They secretly dipped into my savings and borrow money that I didn’t even know I had. But anyway, the application to sponsor my grandmother started around June 2002. The application was pretty thick, worse than your income tax. We filled that out and attached a money order for $1000 or so. I guess that’s how much it costs to process the application. It’s not worth it if you ask me. If I paid someone $1000 to process my application, I would expect it to be done by the next day.

In order to qualify to be a sponsor, my parents had to meet the criteria. It is as follows:

“Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in Canada, 18 years of age or older, may sponsor close relatives or family members who want to become permanent residents of Canada. Sponsors must promise to support the relative or family member and their accompanying family members for a period of three to 10 years to help them settle in Canada.1

My dad was going to be the one that would do the sponsoring because he had the income to support my grandmother for three to ten years. So he filled out the application and waited. It took years to get some sort of feedback. We wanted to find out the process of the application but we didn’t know how. So we tried calling up their help center. It was no help at all. Like most government helpline, you’re put on hold for hours. And sometimes, they hang up on you, the voice prompt even says so. Their hours are regular business hours but if you were the first person to call at 9:00am, the line would still be busy. It’s like those radio contests were the first caller through win. But with the Immigration Helpline, the first caller through doesn’t win. The first caller through gets put on hold. That’s just stupid. The voice prompt suggests that if you get hung up on, you should visit their website.

Their website isn’t all too helpful either. In order to find out the status of your application, you need to enter a client number, which was the reason why we called the helpline in the first place. It’s typical of the government to give you the run around. After finally getting the client number, we need to enter the other information. It asked for a name and a birth date. So I entered my dad’s information. That information was wrong. So I tried my grandmother’s information. That was wrong too. Finally I tried my mom’s information. Again that was wrong. By now, I’m really frustrated. In order to get the status, it asked for a client number, name and birth date. I’ve entered all three possible information and none of them were right. What’s going on?

It turns out, the correct login was to enter my mom’s information but it didn’t work because the application hadn’t been processed yet. They were currently processing applications filed in September 2001 and by then it was already September 2004. They were processing applications that was file three years before. How slow are they working?

When they finally processed my parent’s application, it was already 2005. We get a response saying that my dad is not eligible to sponsor my grandmother because he is not her immediate son. My mother on the other hand is eligible but we didn’t have her as the primary sponsor because she lacked the income to support my grandmother. Apparently, that didn’t matter as long as one of the person on the application was capable of supporting her. So we have to resubmit the application with the names reversed. That took about a week to get a reply.

Now that we had the approval, there was more paperwork to fill out. We had to send an application for my grandmother to fill out and sent to the Singapore Visa Office. I don’t understand why Singapore and not just have her send it back to Canada. This process took another year. On their website, it just showed a status of “Processing” and nothing more. So I sent an email to Singapore asking if we can get a more detailed information on what is being processed. I get a reply stating that they are currently processing applications filed in September 2004. It seems like they are always processing applications filed in September.

A week after I sent out that email, we get a letter from the Singapore Visa Office. They didn’t believe that my grandmother was my mom’s mom. Why the hell not? All the applications has been filled out and approved by the Canadian government and the Singapore office says they don’t believe us? I don’t think we would have been approved if the documentation that we filed with the initial application were falsified. So now we have to find documentation that proves that my mom is the daughter of my grandmother. My country’s structure of government isn’t that organized. Records may not be something that was important back then. It’s going to be hard to find a copy of documents of any kind. I think the best way to prove that they are related is to get a DNA testing done.

I fear that by the time this whole process is completed, my grandmother will not have much time left to enjoy her new life in a new world. I just wished that they speed up the process so it doesn’t take years to get a response. Not everyone is trying to cheat the government especially someone in another country. And they should think about giving priority to the elderly for the obvious reasons. I just hope they don’t take too long.