Laval resident Parwiz Haidari is worried about his brother who is stuck in Tajikistan waiting for his Quebec immigration application to be processed.
If it isn't done soon, his brother may be sent back to their home country of Afghanistan after having fled there more than a year ago, just before the Taliban took over.
"It's a very tough situation now in Afghanistan," said Haidari. "There's no future for anybody."
Haidari immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan seven years ago, and he then sponsored his parents in 2020 under the country's family class sponsorship program.
Then he wanted to get his brother here, and decided to try an initiative in Quebec called the collective sponsorship program that, in 2021, accepted 750 applications out of more than 1,500 — with each refugee applicant and sponsor needing to meet certain criteria.
His brother's application was among those selected by lottery, and so the family has been sitting tight since then and waiting. And waiting.
After 15 months, the application is still being processed, according to the Arrima website run by the province.
His brother is waiting in Tajikistan, a country next to Afghanistan, unable to work. Haidari checks on him every day while they wait for news from the provincial government.
Looking for answers
CBC has agreed to withhold his brother's name for fear of reprisals were he deported back to Afghanistan, but in a phone interview, he said he wants to come to Canada badly.
"It's a very big problem for us," he said. "When you're far from your parents, it's very hard."
Now Haidari wants to know what the holdup is.
He wants to get his brother safely to Quebec as soon as possible because if Tajikistan deports him back to Afghanistan, it may be impossible to get him out.
Haidari says about 100 families have recently been deported back to Afghanistan.
"I hope the government of Quebec will be more generous with the process of this application," Haidari said. "We love Quebec. We love Canada."
Ministry offers no comment
CBC News reached out to Quebec's Ministry of Immigration for comment, but no comment has been offered.
Meanwhile, the situation Haidari and his brother are facing is not unusual.
Janet Dench, the executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees, said this type of delay is a major problem and it is very discouraging for people.
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "The sponsors are, of course, in touch with the people and they know how desperate their situation is."
Quebec has increased its cap on refugee immigrants since Haidari and his brother applied, but still there are more people in the province willing to sponsor refugees than there are spots available.
Quebec tried a first-come, first-serve system that led to long, overnight lines of sponsors vying for a spot, Dench said, and that's why the lottery system was started. Stil,l the delays in processing remain a major problem, she said.
There are refugees in "extremely precarious" situations who are waiting for applications to be processed first by the province and then by the federal government, Dench said.
The federal government has a series of health exams, an interview and security checks to do before an application is approved.
This means Quebec's immigration programs are longer than other parts of the country, because there are two approval processes, Dench said.
"There's a big backlog of applications," she said, and Quebec is capping the number of immigrants it will accept, further limiting access to its own programs.
"That means more years in the pipeline waiting to arrive."