Madam Chair, I thank my colleague for not putting any pressure on me with regard to managing and resolving cases.
The issue of whether someone does or does not need a visa to be sponsored is indeed a concern. During the crisis, we saw that sponsored individuals from countries where a visa is not required were able to come join their families, whereas those who were from countries like Cuba could not. I would like to point out that this was already the case before the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was not the pandemic that created this situation.
It has been suggested that a special visa could be created for these people. I think that idea is worth looking into, but I see where it might lead to problems.
It was suggested that this type of visa could be issued only after a security screening, an assessment of genuineness of the relationship and acceptance of the sponsor based on financial criteria. However, if all those steps are required to obtain a visa, why not just process the sponsorship application? If an individual already has to go through all those steps to get a visa, there is not much left to do in terms of processing the sponsorship application, so the process would become almost meaningless.
I am concerned that if the government starts issuing this type of visa, the prior existence of a sponsorship application could be used to deny a tourist visa. A sponsorship application should not compromise one's ability to get a visa, especially when the applicant has made it clear their goal is to immigrate.
Officials could justify not processing an application any faster on the grounds that at least the person has access to their family in the meantime. The problem is that, even if a tourist visa gives them access to their family, the visa prohibits them from travelling. They also have to pay higher tuition fees, and they cannot use the health care system.
All that could delay processing of sponsorship applications because that is the crux of the issue. We cannot let a band-aid solution distract us from the real problem: processing delays.