An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister

Canada Immigration Forum (discussion group)            
Subject: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister
  February 20, 2005

The Honourable Monte Solberg, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Your Excellency,

Your bio-data is impressive. Your demonstrated ability of being elected to the House of Commons makes me believe that you could truly understand the nature of the complexities that are faced by a commoner on daily basis. The purpose of my letter to you is to make you aware of some of the areas that need improvement in the immigration process.

Allow me to briefly tell my story for you to understand the problems faced by intending immigrants.

I am a Pakistani National with a wife and two kids residing in the United States. In January 2002 I applied for Canadian Immigration under skilled workers category. Equipped with 15 years of diverse financial and management back ground with an MBA degree from the most prestigious university of Pakistan (LUMS) I found the application forms straight forward and simple, the immigration fee reasonable, and my qualification appropriate for me to apply directly to the Buffalo office. The Buffalo office responded in time, acknowledged the application and corresponded to me the tentative time for the next correspondence that also came in time. My wife and two children (7& 8 then) were jubilant on receiving the correspondence that said that our application was approved and at that stage did not need any interview. The same correspondence wanted us to provide proofs of arranged finances for us, as well as a police certificate clarifying my wife and I from any criminal record to be able to migrate to Canada. Also the letter said that we should have our medical examination cleared at one of the designated doctors in the US. The required proof was furnished and in November 2003 we got our medical examination done in the US. We continued to wait for the Buffalo office to reply. Every day we would check our mail boxes and wait and wait.
Somewhere in March 2004 we received a letter from Buffalo office that an interview was suddenly necessary and our immigration file was sent to Detroit Michigan Consulate where a visa officer would interview us.
Since we had waited for a long time already, I tried to establish an immediate contact with the visa consulate mentioning an urgent need for expediting our case. On our written fax to the concerned consulate we received the first hand written note by the visa officer that the usual waiting time period was 10 to 12 months before an interview was granted. Since we had already waited for already over two years till then, I telephoned Mr. Philip Lupul, the Immigration Program Manager. Mr. Lupul was very understanding and on finding out about the date of my application (two years and few months ago) he asked me to just wait for someone from the consulate to call me. To my surprise a lady, who I found out was the concerning visa officer at the consulate, called me and asked me if I was willing to be interviewed within a week. Naturally I agreed and an interview date was fixed for me and my wife for May 3rd, 2004. Confident and jubilant on the prospects of joining my wife´s brother and his family in Toronto soon, we appeared for the interview on the date and time earlier agreed upon.
Your Excellency, I was in for a big surprise. The interviewing officer was the same lady who earlier had conveyed to me (in hand written notes) the waiting time of 10 to 12 months and here I was with my wife challenging and quashing (as she might have perceived my innocent gesture of calling her program manager) and bypassing her highness. Sir, she was down right rude to her bone. Excellency, having worked as the finance director who in the past had delivered lectures on Corporate strategic planning and financial control policies, to large audiences was downright confused. The gestures, the body language, the behavior of the concerning visa officer was so demeaning, that during that horrible one hour of the interview, I was completely taken aback. Let me give you specific examples As soon as she asked the first question about an earlier divorce of mine, my wife tried to clarify a point, the visa officer snapped, "I am not talking about your divorce, so keep quiet" On my answer to a question about my status in the US that was in the L1-A appeal, she responded, I know more about US law then you. On another question about me working for a company that supplied textiles to the famous chain JC Penny, she mockingly commented, so you work for JC Penny. The complete focus of her questions, it seemed was to ridicule and belittle me and my wife. If I tried to clarify, she would budge in, and would ask another question. At times, I felt speechless and simply stared away from the lady. Was it the color of my skin? Or my belief, or simply I, a brown person from a remote third world country had challenged the authority of this perfect White lady with blue eyes, who represented one of the greatest nations of the world.
Excellency, reflecting back on this quandary, I some times curse myself for not responding to that insult appropriately. But at that time, I was only concerned about the future of my family. The great country of Canada that had opened arms for hundreds of thousands of applicants, would give me and my family the opportunity to rise beyond these petty prejudices and biases, I thought and continued to endured the insult at the hands of this bureaucrat who was to allow me to enter into that Great country. The interview, thank God finished at the resolve or should I say orders of the officer who had asked me to provide with the original documents of my educational qualification and the letters of the companies in the US who I had worked with. I was to provide these documents within one month.
I submitted the documents on June 2nd, 2004. And again waited for the news to come. Every day my family will check the mail box to receive that prized letter that would be the permit for us to migrate to Canada where we would join our family members, the country with one of the lowest crime rates, where government is finding ways to eliminate discrimination, where the social benefits surpass from those of anywhere else. Imagine the dismay on receiving a letter again from the esteemed visa officer, literally abusing me for falsifying my educational credentials. I still have that letter. I have yet to come across a more candid rather rude letter using such an un-parliamentary language especially written on an official forum like the Visa Consulate forum. Actually, my BA degree was issued by the University of Punjab who had spelled Punjab as Panjab in one of the seals they affixed at my BA degree. The endeavors to nullify that allegation was another story. I requested the concerning University to write to the visa officer, The other university that issued me the MBA to write to the visa officer, not only that I asked an independent accrediting institution in New York to evaluate my degrees and send a direct report to the concerning visa officer. In the retrospect, I feel, that must have further infuriated the visa officer. She must have been so pleased to find a fault in my degree earlier, and here I was almost bombarding her with various correspondences from all these institutions and universities. THEN there was all quiet on the Western front. My very infrequent correspondences were unanswered except for once, when the Royal Visa officer mentioned that only a couple of weeks more to go. Many months passed after that. I did not get any response in the later part of 2004.. No answer in 2005. In January 2006 on this dismal day of 17th, I got the reply from the visa officer saying that she was not "satisfied" with my experience. Ironically she gave me full marks for education (25) suitability (9) Age (10) Language Proficiency (16) But for my skills she gave me (0) marks .. An accompanying brief just mentioned that I did not ´satisfied´ her for the skill category I applied for i.e. 1112

Sir, I was simply devastated. From January 2002 to January 2006, my family and I had waited every day, every moment to migrate to Canada. I did not make any permanent arrangements here in the US always thinking that we would have a true "home" in Canada. My wife and I refused small gratifying material things like a better TV or a better sofa in the hope that we would migrate to Canada. Why did we do that, because of that simple Canadian Immigration application that clearly describes the procedures and eligibility for migrating to Canada, assured us that we could.

I did not lose hopes as I believe in the natural justice. I wrote to the Program Manager for the review of my case providing additional documents accompanying the certificates from the chartered accountants and chartered secretaries who audited one of the firms I worked for in Pakistan. These companies issued certificates of my work experience as Finance and Marketing director. I reiterated my duties that clearly encompass the duties listed under NOC 1112. With the accompanying documents, I also provided copies of the Tax documents. Surprisingly I got a very quick response, also from the same royal beautiful, white, blue eyed visa officer. She returned my documents saying that no further correspondence is necessary in the case that has been decided by her. According to her I should apply again.

Just before I thought I should write to you Sir, I was staring at that simple, easy, to the point application form that says 15 marks to be allocated for one year of related work experience. While doing that I was also thinking, when I applied initially, I was 44 years of age, though as my father in law puts it, in the evening of youth but still brimming with energy, hope, and enthusiasm. I am 48 now. Still relatively energetic.. If I apply now, what would happen in 4 years .. I will certainly be 52 that is only what I can predict. The form is simple, easy to the point, but what should I write under experience column. An MBA with financial background, still involved in Finances, Balance sheets, and income statements, budgeting and control, coordinating with banks and vendors.. What can I carve for my experience that would ´satisfy´ the visa officer?

But one thing has happened for the best, my children have grown into the habit of running towards the mail box. Aamir, my son was 7 when I applied for Canadian Immigration. Now he is almost 12. In his conscious life, he has seen BABA and Mama always anxiously running towards the mail box. I have not told him that he might have to continue seeing me doing that until he would be 16 or 20 or perhaps never.

I hope Your Excellency would have the patience and the time to read the facts that have actually happened with this commoner. I really don´t know if, narrating these facts would make a difference. But I sincerely prey that it does, because after all it is a simple to the point, easy application form.

Sincerely yours,
Nabeel Athar

Nabeel Athar
(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
Dude i feel sorry for you.... these white peanchods thisnk they are smart ass they r the most dumb ppl on earth....
Better drop this immigration to canada as u will see lots of this happening inside canada ....

(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
Nabeel, did you actually send this letter to the minister? If yes then your efforts are much appreciated :-)
(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
Nabee, my heart goes out to you and your family. Your story is horrifying and shocking. As an alien living and applying from the US, four years of wait time is cold and cruel. I pray your letter will draw the attention of the immigration minister and land you an overturn in the petition.
(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
Nabee, the date of your letter should be 2006, right? God bless you.
(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
My prayers are with you for jstice to your application. I feel the pain , I know how hard every day was. Please continue your fight.
You should not have !!! (in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
hey ,
You should not have provoked the immigration officer by contacting the programme manager. I have read about people who get interviewed after medical test and they wait long too. You should have waited patiently like everyone does. You are no different to others

(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
another sad story of Canadian immigration system. His only fault was he wanted to know about the rpogress his application, is this wrong to do? Didnt he pay for the service in the form of processing fee?
Good luck mate, I hope someone look into your case and get rid of these kinda people from canadian immigration system.

Good luch buddy

(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
as a Canadian, I apologize for what has happened to you. I hope you can accept that we are all not like this person. As a blue eyed, white skinned woman - I would be happy to have you and your family in my country.

I hope this terrible wrong can be rectified. I am truly sorry.

(in reply to: An Open Letter to the Immigration Minister)
Many thanks to Sharon, pal, happyguy, scientist, and all those you rendered their sympathies to me. God Bless you.

Yes the date of my application should have been February 20th, 2006. and yes not all white blue eyed people have the same biases.

And I also agree to the point made by one of you regarding the Canadians wanting cheaper work force.

But what is wrong with our third world countries. Why are we people suffering at the hands of our politicians and bureacrats that make us leave from our respective countries?

Countries like Canada while offering settlement for foreigners also promises bias free, prejudice free society where crime rate is low, health facilities are better, economic opportunities are viable.

The likes of us who want to contribute in a significant way, are attracted towards these opportunities.

I wish, our third world that was basically the First World historically could also become a better place in these times.

Friends your letters of consolation let me believe that there are some people out there who want this world as a whole to be better place.

I wish...

Nabeel Athar
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