A Call for Increased Transparency

A bureaucracy works. It’s evident in the success of Canada’s systems. No process is perfect, and there are definitely some flaws in the system. On the state level, a few mistakes can be overlooked if the system works as a whole. On an individual level, however, it can be difficult to believe in the system based on personal experiences.

An arrival stamp: the start of a long journey of paperwork. https://flic.kr/p/bB3jeu
An arrival stamp: the start of a long journey of paperwork. https://flic.kr/p/bB3jeu

As an immigrant, getting your paperwork is essential. It is your lifeline: those simple pieces of paper are required to be able to stay in the country and to continue your life. How the current Canadian system works is through an online portal on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Ideally, all you would need is to upload required documents and check this portal for updates of your application. The CIC website also publishes approximate processing times for your application so you can expect when decisions will be made.

All is well, and that’s all you need. However, there are cases like mine that need more transparency than what is available.

It has been three months since I submitted my online application for an extension of my current study permit, and I am still waiting for any form of update or communication. Before contacting a Member of Parliament’s office for help, I was left in the dark. No information was given to me other than “it’s under review,” “your application remains ‘open,’” and “you’ll just have to wait.”

Wait for what? An update on my online portal? Someone to call me for more information? What are they reviewing? Is there something I’m missing? Why is it taking longer than expected? Is there a reason for all of this delay and silence?

A reason. That’s all I need. If a reason was given to me, it would settle most of my fears. I can work on it, I can do something, I know what’s going on.

On the individual level, it’s common to feel powerless. All you have is that online portal and call centre that can’t do much for you because they’re not the ones processing applications. However, your MPs are there to help you out. Without their help, I would still be wondering about my status in Canada. More transparency is needed at the individual level in the Canadian immigration process. We can’t leave anxious immigrants in the dark about that piece of paper that controls their entire life.