The federal government’s plan to increase the number of family-reunification cases processed through immigration is some of the only good news Patrick Isingizwe has heard in a long time.
The 28-year-old Toronto man has been impatiently waiting to be reunited with his wife for the past two years since applying to bring her to Canada after their marriage in Rwanda.
“It’s been a nightmare,” he said about waiting. “I’m paying over $200 in phone bills every month because I literally have to live on the phone to stay in touch with my wife.”
Overall, the Liberals are seeking a record number of newcomers this year, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced Tuesday. Between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents are expected to be admitted, a range that’s the highest projected level in decades.
Along with reuniting families, the government will also place an emphasis on refugees.
In addition to the 25,000 Syrians the government has committed to resettling, it is prepared to triple the number of privately sponsored refugees this year, setting aside up to 18,000 spaces for them. In previous years, the number hovered around 6,000.
Increasing the targets is a welcome development, but conditions remain difficult for many low-income applicants, said Syed Hussan of No One Is Illegal, a Toronto-based refugee and immigrant advocacy group.
[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”37″] “You still have to be rich to be able to apply and sponsor your family,” he said, referring to application costs. “This is a target, and they haven’t always met their targets.”
But, he said: “It’s still a far cry from undoing the Harper era damage.”
For now, Isingizwe continues to spend his downtime rewatching videos of his wedding and going through pictures.
He hopes the government’s new commitment will yield a positive response the next time he calls visa office to check the status of his application.
“Every time I call, they just tell me it’s in the process,” he said. “Something really must change because right now the wait is too long and too painful.”