The article "Kept apart for years, Iranian couples decry Canada's heartbreaking immigration delays" reports on a group of Iranian nationals in Canada who are facing long delays in processing their permanent residency applications, causing them to be separated from their partners overseas for years. The group consists of 55 couples who have been separated for up to five years and have banded together through social media to voice their frustration with the delays.
The couples are accusing Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of failing them with "unreasonably long" delays and in some cases, denial of visitor visas. This has caused fertility concerns, financial hardships, and psychological strain on their marriages, with some couples even discussing divorce. IRCC's own processing time estimator says that spousal sponsorship should take about 16 months, but some couples say they've been in limbo for years.
The group is concerned about the situation in Iran, where protests erupted last September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for "unsuitable attire." Iran has been executing its own citizens as unrest continues into the new year, and Iranians have been targeted and surveilled by the regime both inside and outside the country, including in Canada. The group says it is critical for IRCC to act quickly on their files, which they say are stuck in Turkey's Ankara visa office.
The group sent a petition to the Immigration Minister on January 9, 2023, signed by all 110 individuals, but it was ignored. IRCC declined to be interviewed but stated in a written statement that the department is "deeply concerned" about the situation in Iran and that family reunification is a priority for the government. IRCC's approval rate for Iranian spouses and children seeking permanent residency was 90% in 2022, and the department has implemented measures such as digitization, remote processing, and remote interviews to help speed up its spousal sponsorship applications.
I'm not really a fan of petitions but going to the media does tend to work.
A more practical solution might be a mandamus application(s) by those affected by unreasonable delay.
I'm grateful for the author (Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang) for highlighting the difficult situation faced by these Iranian couples (and I might add unacceptable delays on spousal sponsorships is not a new phenomonen) who are being separated from their partners for years due to long delays in processing their permanent residency applications. Perhaps I'm being too cynical but IRCC stated commitment to family reunification is belied by the fact that the group's petition has to date been ignored, and they continue to face an uncertain future.