Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parental Immigration: the long wait...

The hardest part about being in an intercultural marriage (especially being married to an Indian) is dealing with all the immigration woes. The first struggle of the relationship is getting the couple together - living in one place. Some couples are even separated for years due to immigration. Luckily, we didn't have that problem - but now we are having that problem with my inlaws.

Because my inlaws are elder and they would be dependents on us when they get here, it is not a priority for the Canadian government to process their application quickly. We applied to sponsor them to come and live in Canada way back in 2010 - and just now we have received a notification from the Canadian side that they are ready to process our file. FOUR YEARS LATER!!!

They have given us 90 days to provide all sorts of complicated documents including: police certificates, marriage certificates, birth records, extended family information, etc. For a Westerner, these may not be difficult to obtain - but for Indian citizens it is. For example, my husband's birth certificate has no name on it, and it just says that a woman gave birth to a live baby on a certain day. No full names are mentioned. The only specifics are that they were both Brahmins! Another thing we need is thatha's birth date and death date, as well as thatha's wife's. Well, nobody in the family knows when thatha's actual birth date was, because he was born in a small village in Tamil Nadu. And the same for thatha's wife. In the olden days - there was a lack of official documentation for everything - for example, my inlaws recently got their marriage certificate this year. In India, astrological birth charts are not a problem, but official documentation sure is!

But the real problem is getting a police certificate from Yemen - where my FIL lived for 4 years. He has no contacts there anymore - all of his colleagues left because it got too dangerous. To obtain a police certificate for Yemen, you must apply in person or get someone else to apply as a representative. Which is simply not possible, since we live on the opposite side of the world now and know nobody there. Luckily, we got a last minute if only they follow through!

So, after we submit all this documentation and the Canadian government approves it, they send it to India. The current processing time for India is 5 years, where it will probably sit on someone's desk and collect dust. There is no way we can speed up the application - we just have to wait. And as our immigration lawyer says, "Just wait...and stay healthy"...

It really is not fair to have two governments (both Canada and India) who are completely disinterested in bringing families together. I look at the other wait times for other countries (for Hong Kong parents it only takes 12 months!) and it just seems too long by comparison. Even war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East have less wait times than India! I guess I should be grateful that this option to bring my inlaws into the country is even available in the first place - but when I see Hong Kong's swift processing, it makes me feel like "What makes them better than us? Or more deserving to be here?" I guess it is not so much about that, but they are clearly more efficient!!!

It was a bit strange going to the immigration lawyer's office - 4 years after we started the application process. So much has happened - we moved three times, we got married, had a baby (who is now a toddler), and husband-ji has become eligible for Canadian citizenship which we have applied for. By the time my inlaws get their approval, my daughter will be 8 years old, which seems like a lifetime away...

So until then, all we can do is wait...and stay healthy...



  1. Omg! That really requires patience!
    Makes me think that I should plan my life ten years in advance, which it is impossible for us to do at this point. I wonder how long time Indian -Swedish paperwork would take...

    1. It is hard, but definitely something to think about. We applied for the sponsorship jointly for them, even before we were married. Glad we did it early.

  2. You are lucky you guys applied in 2010, the Canadian government has since then closed immigration for parents. They opened it this January for a month and will process only the first 5,000 applications received.
    They take way too long and the process is way too complicated. But on the other hand lots of people have misused the system hence these stringent criterias and rules.

    1. Wow, I had no idea. We were really lucky then. I remember when we consulted the immigration lawyer about this and they were like giving us the feeling like we needed to do the application immediately. I think they knew that it was getting so back-logged that it was going to shut down.

  3. I am glad you are doing this process for your in laws and I have to say you are lucky that you have that option even it takes so long.
    As far as I know in Australia, the only option available right now is to pay 50,000 or more for the application which is lots of money. All the best with your process.

  4. Oh Dear! Luckily you have already started the process 4years ago, before your baby was born. I'm still in the process one, waiting my husband to get his visa. We haven't seen each other for 5 months! I totally understand your frustration with the Indian paperwork. My husband has his last name written wrong and the date of birth totally wrong as well in his passport. They also got my first name in our Indian marriage certificate wrong. This kind of mistakes in official documents in Europe would be bad, but I guess in India the mentality that something is better than nothing works with everything.

    Good luck!

    1. God, that is so hard. Props to you, long distance is so hard.

  5. Hmm... Immigration and visas are touchy topics for me.

    I think it is not the efficiency only. It is the entire system which is wrong and messed up. They keep changing their minds about immigration and do not verify properly when they let people come in. So many people immigrate and do not integrate and this could blow up in their face anytime.

    I have met Chinese who cannot speak English at all and they are PRs and citizens. What the hell and I cannot get a tourist visit visa?!

    When HK was handed over to China, many HKers emigrated to Canada because they do not like the govt. Their government is fast and it is accepted that people want to leave - their population is 7-8 million compared to India.

    Of course, Indian government is extremely inefficient! I cannot understand why the hell they have to be like this! There is no shortage of people looking for jobs. Why not hire young people, let the old retire and do things faster?

    USA also has 5 years waiting list to look at green card applicants. I do not think it is because they do not have enough people to process applications. It is a deliberate attempt to slow down and the laws/instructions from the govt. keep changing.

    Here, few years ago, anybody could get a PR as long as they were educated and working or a student. Now, they reject one and all and the entire process is a mystery.

    In these cases, nobody knows what the policy changes are. When these countries opened their doors for immigration, they were not too selective. Now, they regret it and are overly strict with deserving people.

    Nothing one can do!

    1. Here in Vancouver, the population is majorly Chinese, over 50%. Many don't speak English or cannot learn or do not make efforts. They don't even have to learn English because there are tons of Chinese working everywhere so they can communicate without even having to learn. I agree with you, they are quick to give Chinese parents the residency, yet my inlaws who speak English fluently have to wait.

  6. Hubby had to go to court in India in order to obtain a proper birth certificate as he didn't have one. This to get a passport. His parents marriage act is a hand-written letter on white paper written by the village priest.

    Since then we have found the Indian consulate to be very helpful, and I believe all the NRI, PIO, OCI status are very helpful to Indian citizens living abroad.

    Now, in Europe, governments are trying to reduce immigration and statistics show the highest numbers of immigrants are spouses and families, which is not of interest to European governments. They want skilled workers and scientists to come, not families. As for Canada, I met a European family who was kicked out of the country as soon as the man lost his job.

    I know we could probably not get even a tourist visa for my MIL since our flat is not very big and this is something that is verified when you send out an invitation letter for visa.

    Good luck for your application.

    1. Yes, my SIL has been working in Europe for the past few years and was separated from her husband due to immigration. Now she is back in India, and now her husband has gotten a job in Germany, so they will be separated again. Their daughter is now 4 and has hardly seen them together. So many sacrifices....


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