The federal government says it is now prioritizing temporary travel visas for people wishing to attend the International AIDS Conference in Montreal in late July.
The move comes as the head of the African Alliance health rights organization criticizes Canada for bidding to host the conference and spending millions on it without ensuring that all attendees would receive a visa to attend.
Founder Tian Johnson says it is “really despicable” that thousands of people from the South are still waiting to find out if they will get visas, leaving the conference “only white, privileged and academic”.
The African Alliance is one of 250 Canadian and international humanitarian groups that signed a letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in June asking him to intervene.
The letter warns that there is a real risk that the voices of people living in countries most affected by AIDS will be missing from the conversation.
A Fraser spokesperson said visa offices have now received guest lists for the conference and have been told to prioritize their temporary travel visa applications.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has worked closely with the conference organizers to ensure that immigration and entry requirements are understood so that the processing and admission of participants can proceed smoothly. clashes,” IRCC spokeswoman Nancy Caron said in a statement.
For delegates attending the conference, “IRCC has taken all available steps to expedite applications as quickly as possible and facilitate travel for this event,” she said.
Processing times can be affected by how quickly applicants respond to IRCC requests for more information, how easily that information can be verified, and the complexity of a request, Caron said.
The capacity and resources of visa application centers and visa offices also play a role in processing time, she added.
“IRCC is currently experiencing longer than usual processing times for visitor visa applications,” said Caron.
“All event attendees requiring a visa are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. If you wait too long to apply, an application may not be approved in time.”