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Service Canada Lines Get Longer As More International Students Seek SIN Cards

Service Canada says they are aware of the long lineups at certain locations. 

Lines outside Service Canada offices are stretching around buildings with wait times longer than four hours as more international students arrive in the Greater Toronto Area for school in September.

Backlogs in passport processing timeframes impacted Service Canada facilities across the province earlier this summer. There is currently no relief due to the increase of increase students requesting Social Insurance Numbers (SIN).

On Thursday morning, hundreds of people were lined up outside a Service Canada office in Brampton, Ontario, waiting in the pouring rain. Karan Bhardwaj was one of them.

International student Karan Bhardwaj arrived at 5 a.m. in the line and waited four hours to obtain his SIN. He finally received it after a long wait, saying it is needed to be able to work while studying to manage expenses. 

Further, he added that his only choice was to wait in line because it can take up to a month for the SIN to be sent to him by mail if he applies online. “It is too long for me to wait for a job,” he said. 

Service Canada Lineup Expected To Rise

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) stated the heightened demand is typical for this time of year.

According to Maja Stefanovska, a spokesman for ESDC, “Service Canada tends to see increased demand for Social Insurance Number (SIN) applications in late August and early September each year, mostly connected to the inflow of recently arrived international students.

Those who register for a SIN online can start working at an insured job before they get a letter in the mail, which can take up to 15 business days starting from the day the application was processed, said the department. 

If an online application is denied, the applicant is contacted by email or letter and given directions on SIN requirements. According to Service Canada, around 95% of online applications are handled in less than ten days.

To meet the growing demand, department staff is working overtime and weekends as even Canadians are eager to travel after more than two years of pandemic restrictions and are applying for passports. 

According to Stefanovska, Service Canada is aware that lines remain an issue at some locations, both at Service Canada Centers and passport sites. When it comes to passports, there is a persistently high demand for both urgent and non-urgent passports.

Service Canada reported that since May, they have hired more than 800 new employees nationwide to help with the backlog. Further, they stated that processing procedures are still taking longer due to high volumes.

Jatin Kapel was among the many individuals lined up Thursday in Brampton to apply for a SIN card. He arrived at the line at five in the morning, hoping to get a SIN after being turned away earlier this week.

Longer Than The Usual Wait Time 

On Thursday, Jashan Jot Kaur, an Indian international student in the Environmental Technician program at Sheridan College, stood in line for four hours. Like Bhardwaj, she stated that she would prefer to wait in line to apply in person for a SIN rather than complete an online application.

While Stefanovska says, Service Canada is still working to address the wait times. “These wait times are far from normal” and have impacted several people, she added. 

“Service Canada is examining and implementing every possible option to expedite intake and processing of applications to help Canadians get their passports in a timely way.”

Service Canada is looking into implementing every option to speed up the intake and processing of applications and assist Canadians in getting their passports quickly.

Presented by CTC News