Hundreds of PNP applicants still awaiting visas

Teresa Wright
Published on November 8, 2012
Sample of a Canadian visa

It has been four years since P.E.I.’s immigrant investor program was shut down by the feds, but close to 400 immigrants nominated by P.E.I. for permanent residency are still awaiting their visas.

Information obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) shows a total of 102 Provincial Nominee Program applications from P.E.I. were still not yet processed by immigration officials as of July 3, 2012.

But each application represents multiple people because an applicant will bring their family members with them when they move to Canada. That’s why a total of 391 individuals are still waiting for their Canadian visas.

Paul Northcott, a communications official with CIC, says the extended delays are due to the huge influx of applications submitted by P.E.I. in 2008.

“For the 2008 Annual Immigration Levels Plan, P.E.I. estimated they would nominate 1,000 provincial nominees. In 2008, applications for nearly 8,000 P.E.I. nominees were received by the department,” Northcott said in an email to The Guardian.

“It has taken time to process all these applications to a final decision.”

The federal government changed its regulations in 2008 after it learned P.E.I. was allowing Provincial Nominee Program applicants to invest in businesses in which they had no active involvement. CIC officials at the time said this violated the spirit of the program, which was established to encourage immigrants to settle in P.E.I.

The federal department notified P.E.I. it would be changing its rules and gave the province a few months to wind its existing program down.

Instead, provincial officials decided instead to nominate as many immigrants as possible before the new regulations came into effect on Sept. 2, 2008. P.E.I. submitted a total of 2,158 applications in 2008, according to CIC. This represents a total of 7,349 persons.

In 2009, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenny warned P.E.I. of extended delays due to this unexpected influx in PNP applications. At the time, he estimated some of P.E.I.’s nominees would have to wait five years for their visas.

Former Innovation Minister Allan Campbell refused to send out warning letters to P.E.I.’s applicants advising them of these delays, so Ottawa sent them out instead.

Four years later, hundreds of PNP applicants are still waiting for their visas.

As of July, 2,093 of P.E.I.’s PNP applications had been processed. Fifty applications, representing 172 persons, were denied and 15 applications were withdrawn.

The province did establish a contingency fund near the end of its program for refunds for those refused or who withdrew their residency.

This 9-million fund could provide a refund approximately $55,000 per applicant, but department officials have said these funds won’t be available until Ottawa has completed processing the backlogged files.

In the meantime, federal officials are plugging away at P.E.I.’s remaining PNP applications.

“We are continuing to process applications while exercising all appropriate due diligence,” Northcott wrote.