The couple in Toronto are fighting against immigration authorities to correct a typo

Nearly a year after Jack Harold Cockcroft applied for and received a permanent residence permit, there is one thing that still holds back his paperwork: a typo – one made by the immigration department that has left him entangled in bureaucracy in his and his wife’s efforts to to get it fixed. .

It is a problem that the Toronto couple says highlights the applicants’ struggle to tackle a random and insensitive immigration department, even to correct a simple mistake made by its staff.

In early August, more than six months after Cockcroft’s wife, Erin Anderson-Birmingham, applied for her husband’s immigration sponsorship, she received instructions via email to begin the process online.

The forms issued to Cockcroft, a Briton with temporary status in Canada, for his biometric screening and medical examination had both his last name misspelled, as Cockroft – missing the third “c.”

While the immigration portal allows applicants to update addresses and other information, they cannot change the names entered manually by the immigration authorities in the computer system.

The duo submitted a web form asking the immigration authorities to correct the name in the documents, but only received a standard response to an email on August 27 stating that the large number of inquiries related to the refugee crisis in Afghanistan had affected the department’s ability to handle other cases. They would receive the repeated response with the problem unresolved, even with the help of their MP Han Dong’s office.

With only 30 days to submit the required documents for their sponsorship, the couple decided to proceed with biometric screening and medical examination in the hope that the immigration department would acknowledge their request and correct the error in the meantime.

On September 10, they received a letter from immigration that Cockcroft’s application for permanent residence had been approved and were asked to fill out a template email with information about his name, customer number, date of entry into Canada and current address.

Although the official letter addressed him with the correct spelling of his last name, Cockcroft insisted on writing a note in his response about the spelling mistake in his application portal and biometrics and medical paperwork, as a precautionary measure. His permanent residence card arrived on September 27th.

“This came in record time, and certainly it bit us in the butt,” said Anderson-Birmingham, 25, who met Cockcroft, 26, online in February 2019 while in Canada on a work-holiday visa. The two got married a year ago in October in the middle of the pandemic.

The permanent resident card again misspelled her husband’s last name.

“They just seemed to be tracking our application fast and never looked for a unique web form to correct his name,” sighed Anderson-Birmingham, who works as a health care analyst.

The couple immediately sent the card back to the immigration department along with a request for reissue due to the officials’ mistake.

Later in October, without a response from the department, Anderson-Birmingham found out from an online forum that in order to correct an incorrectly spelled name on the permanent residence card, an applicant must first correct the name that appeared in a document called “Permanent Confirmation. stay.”

It was then that they started looking for it and found it in his application portal. That document arrived at his portal on September 13, after he had already responded to the email asking for the address to send his permanent residence card to.

“What has been most frustrating for us is not being able to contact anyone at all. We are angry, sad and frustrated, ”said Cockcroft, a Huddersfield sign designer whose work permit expired in January. He has now implied status here. “It has put unnecessary stress on us.”

The couple said they have not received any confirmation or update of their applications for permanent residence permits or correction of Cockcroft’s name in his permanent residence confirmation.

In response to a query about Cockcroft’s case, the immigration department apologized to the couple, saying its operations support center “accidentally” changed Cockcroft’s name on his application on Sept. 13 and later issued his permanent residency card with the misspelling of his name.

“While immigration officers processing applications must ensure that all data manually entered into our system matches what is in the customer’s passport, there may occasionally be situations where human error occurs,” said department spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois. “It was a regrettable mistake.”

Officials have already reported Cockcroft’s case to the operations support center and case management office to correct the error and reissue a new permanent resident card, she said.

Cockcroft said he needs the corrected documents to apply for his provincial health insurance and social security number.

Anderson-Birmingham said she does not understand why correcting a spelling mistake made by immigration authorities is such a complex process when they have all the evidence, such as his passport and personal documents, as well as marriage certificate, all with the correct spelling. name.

“It just confirms to me that parts of the immigration department do not communicate with each other. We are the result of different departments being closed and not connected to each other, ”said Anderson-Birmingham, who has been told that the replacement process can take six months.

“Their mistake should not be our problem. Something must be done to hold this department accountable for their actions.”

According to the Immigration Department, it received 13,092 requests to replace permanent resident cards in 2019 before the pandemic hit. In 2020, 6,685 people applied for the replacement, and by October, 5,217 such requests were submitted.

Officials have not broken down the data into causes, which could be due to misspelled names, briefly reported lost, stolen or damaged.

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration for Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

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