Canada’s economy relies on immigration. However, the pandemic has slowed processing times and frustrated clients who have been waiting for longer than they anticipated.
On January 31, 2022, Minister Sean Fraser announced changes to be made to the current system to expedite applications.
Measures have already been taken to address this issue: 500 additional processing staff members have recently been hired, digitization of applications is ongoing, as well as work relocation amongst officers globally. Furthermore, data analytics are being used to help processing times. Routine files for visitor visas have been processed 87% faster through this system. Note that IRCC officers always make the final decision to accept or deny an application. All these efforts that have already been implemented have reduced spousal sponsorship application processing times back down to the normal duration of 12 months.
The Government of Canada has announced an additional funding of $85 million to clear the backlog of applicants and work on accepting immigrants in a more timely manner. This investment includes hiring addition staff. The focus will be on minimizing processing times for study permits, work permits, permanent resident card renewals, visitor visas, and proof of citizenship. The IRCC plans to process 147,000 permanent residence applications by the end of the first quarter of 2022. This would double the amount processed in the previous year’s first quarter.
New helpful additions to address current issues include an expansion of the application portal’s capacity coming this summer. This will help with the COVID-19 delays that have resulted from paper-based applications. There is also a new Permanent Residence Application Tracker coming February 2022 for spouses and dependents and a new portal that allows permanent residence to receive their status cards without in-person interaction.
This is in keeping with other upgrades that have already been made to citizenship applications, such as online testing, the online application tracker, and virtual citizenship ceremonies. A possible option to self-administer the applicant’s Oath by signed attestation is also being developed.
The IRCC will update the online processing times tool to give clients accurate estimations and continue to work on processing time delays among other issues that applicants are experiencing to keep Canadian immigration thriving.