Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

You don't know Mr. Sheriff? That makes two of us

  • Print

An error has been made, admitted an agent of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. "You are not in the system. You will have to submit your application again."

More than one error, I thought. But I have no choice. Three months after submitting an application to sponsor my husband, I must start all over again.

In 2011, 10,997 immigrants in the family class were admitted to Canada. This compares to 91,765 economic immigrants and 13,150 refugees. For the family class, an applicant pays a $550 processing fee and another $480 if the application is successful.

All the applications for family-class immigrants are processed at a case processing centre somewhere in Mississauga, Ont. Every working day a courier picks up more than 40 thick envelopes from a postal box and delivers them to this mysterious, anonymous place.

How many people work there, I wonder? What kind of space do they have? Knowing the story of my application, I picture a few harried workers surrounded by piles of files.

My application was delivered to the centre's postal box on Jan. 15 in a trackable envelope. On April 2, it was returned to me with a letter asking a certain "Mr. Sheriff" to "kindly resubmit your application along with the following marked items."

At first I thought someone had my name wrong, but when I looked at the list of marked items and compared it to my application, I had doubts about that. How could anyone confuse the name Sheriff with Johnston? (Error No. 1)

Also in the package was my original envelope and another one. It seems my application actually had been returned in February, but to the wrong address. (Error No. 2) Canada Post then returned the package to Mississauga where, it seems, it remained until I made a phone call March 20. For more than a month, no one bothered to check for the correct address, which very clearly was written on my original envelope as well as in my application. (Error No. 3)

At least the package I received April 2 contained my complete application and all the supporting documents. That was a relief. But some of these documents -- my husband's medical report and my income-tax assessment -- are time-sensitive, and the clock is ticking.

The estimated processing time for our application currently is 11 months. Now I must add three more. And I still don't know why they returned the application in the first place. If I have made some sort of error, it may be sent back a second time, causing further delays.

To add to the frustration, there is no way to reach the case processing centre in Mississauga. You have to consult a website or call one phone number that handles all immigration questions and scroll through many options. If you are lucky, you may reach an agent.

When I did reach an agent on March 20, she first told me I was "not in the system" and would have to send another application. Finally, she agreed to contact the processing centre on my behalf. "You should receive a phone call from them within 10 days," she said.

Well, no one phoned, but at least someone dug through a pile of envelopes, retrieved my entire application, slapped a letter dated March 22 to Mr. Sheriff on top of it, and sent it off -- this time to the correct address. Maybe I should be thankful.

In the meantime, if you know a Mr. Sheriff who has applied to sponsor a spouse or a dependent child, ask him if he has received a letter addressed to Ms. Johnston.


Author and freelance writer Faith Johnston lives in Winnipeg and Pune, India.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 9, 2013 A9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google