Rayjon is asking for answers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. We’re in the process of supporting our trusted Haitian colleague, Mr. Renaud Thomas, to obtain a visitor’s visa to Canada. The many barriers in place reek of systemic discrimination and injustice. 

Sarnia charity decries long visa delay for Haitian visitor

Renaud Thomas is the Director of Rayjon Share Care Haiti. Rayjon in Canada has officially invited him to visit Canada. In December we assisted Renaud with making an application for a visitor visa to Canada. At that time, we were told that the estimated wait time was 660 days! WHAT?!

We have since submitted a request for the application to be considered urgent, for several compelling reasons:

  • Renaud’s presence would allow us host a cultural event in the Spring of 2023, free and open to the public, to celebrate Caribbean culture and raise awareness about Haitian history and current affairs. 

  • The event is being designed to promote inclusivity and cross-cultural exchange in the community of Sarnia-Lambton.

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and now severe insecurity in Haiti, we have been unable to have much-needed face-to-face time with our Haitian partners since January of 2020. A visit is integral to maintaining the close partner relationships Rayjon’s work is founded on

  • Rayjon relies on public engagement and fundraising in Canada to support our funding commitments to our Haitian & Dominican partners. A visit from Renaud is paramount to achieving our fundraising goals, especially post-pandemic and considering that Rayjon doesn’t receive any government funding!

  • What about the process seems discriminatory? 

  • Lots of things. For example, check out the IRCC’s visa processing times calculator.. See what happens when you enter a European or “white” country, and then change that selection to choose a predominantly BIPOC nation. (Can sudden influx in applications from these countries be the sole reason for the delays? And if there is an influx in applications from certain areas – understandable, considering the intense turmoil many nations are facing – what is the IRCC doing to manage the load in a just manner?)
  • It’s as though the IRCC is selectively discriminating against applicants from certain countries, including Haiti. Renaud’s application included: a letter of invitation and support from Rayjon Share Care in Canada, a detailed itinerary of the proposed visit, all of the required documentation confirming his professional credentials and personal ties to Haiti (demonstrating no risk of Renaud attempting to remain in Canada), proof of financial ability to make the journey (and contribute to the Canadian economy while here!), and additional personal details to support his character (i.e. in addition to his work with Rayjon, Mr. Thomas is also the founder of two other Haitian non-profit organizations!). We’ve also shared an official letter of support and invitation from the mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley, outlining support from the City of Sarnia, and our plans to work collaboratively with multiple community organizations to host our community event. What exactly is the problem? 
  • Renaud has a host of knowledge and experience to share with Canadians. His perspective and wisdom would be transformational, for our local community, as well as for the future of our partnership in international collaboration. He says, 

I pray that the immigration understands that our goal is to share information and skills as the work requires.

–Renaud Thomas

We are asking for transparency from IRCC. We have 3 questions:

1) What are you doing to reduce unacceptable visitor visa wait times?

2) How can Canadians be sure that the application process is equitable and just for all applicants?

3) What is being done to expedite Renaud’s visa request?

Please let your MP know that you’re concerned about unacceptable wait times for Haitian nationals to receive visitor’s visas to Canada. We encourage you to reference Renaud’s case, and to let them know that you see his visit as being of tremendous value to Rayjon Share Care and to Canadians!

The current estimated wait time for Renaud’s visit is 220 days… not nearly soon enough to allow us to plan a Spring event. We also know that he is not the only one affected by unacceptable wait times. Would you join us in demanding a response from IRCC?