Canada’s immigration backlog leaves Calgary family ‘in limbo’

While many spend Canada Day celebrating what it means to be Canadian, others are still waiting for the opportunity to call Canada home.

The federal government currently processes immigration documents for an estimated 2.4 million people.

May Ellen Lim is one of them.

She spent Canada Day celebrating her anniversary at the same park and community center in Northwest Calgary where she was married seven years ago that day.

“We get the fireworks every time we celebrate our wedding anniversary,” Lim joked.

May Ellen Lim and Michael Quinlan were married on July 1, 2015 at a parish hall in Northwest Calgary.


Both teachers, Lim and her husband Michael Quinlan, met about 10,000 kilometers from Canadian soil where her husband was born.

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“I’ve lived abroad and taught in international schools for about 21 years, my last posting ending up in Manilla, Philippines,” Quinlan said.

And although they had always planned to relocate to Canada, the pandemic hastened their return.

“The Philippines hasn’t handled COVID-19 very well and we have a six-year-old,” Lim said. “Luckily we had the opportunity to move here as my husband is Canadian.”

May Ellen Lim, Michael Quinlan and their six-year-old son moved back to Canada in September 2021, months after Lim’s permanent residency application was filed.


They filed Lim’s permanent residency application in June 2021 before moving to Calgary in September.

“We’ve tracked it and seen it come in, and from our understanding, we shouldn’t have an application number long after receiving it,” Lim said.

“We do not have that. And it’s been a year.”

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Lim has repeatedly attempted to contact Service Canada for an update on her file and has received few indications as to whether her application is even still in the queue.

“They said they can’t find my application in their system, so we don’t know exactly what that means: whether my application is on someone’s desk, still waiting to be processed or plugged into the system, or if it is has been lost. We don’t know.” Lim said. “The radio silence is just unnerving.”

Without her application number or the original documents accompanying her application, Lim now finds himself in immigration limbo.

“I have no health care. I cant work. Our savings are slowly dwindling. And just not knowing what the future holds for us – especially when we have a six-year-old – is very difficult.”

Your case is not unique. The processing time for foreign applications is currently 23 months.

And while Canada’s Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship did not respond to Global News’ requests for comment as of the publication date, earlier this week the federal government announced measures to deal with immigration delays.

Continue reading:

New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays

“It’s a function of the pandemic. It’s a function of staff shortages. It is also a function of the policy choices made by the government. And it’s also a consequence of Canada being a victim of its own success,” said Kareem El-Assal, director of policy and digital strategy at CanadaVisa. “The demand to come to Canada always far exceeds the number of places we have available.”

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Continue reading:

Trapped in Canada’s immigration backlog? What you can do about the delay

Lim and Quinlan faced many other unrelated challenges on their return, including a broken ankle from a fall on an icy Canadian sidewalk and a delay (of several months) for their shipping container from the Philippines.

“There were setbacks along the way,” Quinlan said. “It was hard. We can’t get any replies from shipping. We can’t get any replies from immigration. It’s just wait, wait, wait, wait.”

For now, Lim and her family are trying to be patient while continuing to harbor hope for their Canadian future.

“It was really nice to be back in Canada, experiencing the seasons and seeing the friendly faces,” Quinlan said.

“We’re a country made up of so many cultures and it’s wonderful to be back here and in the thick of it, seeing all the people and exploring all that Canada has to offer.”

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New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays

New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. Canada’s immigration backlog leaves Calgary family ‘in limbo’


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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