According to the new plans declared by the Immigration Minister of Canada Sean Fraser; an allocation of $85 million during the 2021 Budget will be used to return the different immigration programs to standard processing time. This budget comes as a ray of hope for many as there will be normalcy in the processing times of study permits, work permits, and permanent resident card renewals. Efforts are being taken to reduce the processing times for visitor visas and proof of citizenship as well. These changes will be put into effect by the end of 2022.
In 2021 the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had already made decisions on 500,000 PR applications, now the final decision for 147,000 of these applications is said to be announced in the first quarter of 2022. This number has been doubled from what the scenario was like in 2021. A new application tracker is also going to be introduced in February 2022 for Permanent Resident spouses and dependents, which would enable them to check their application status online.
In the past couple of weeks, it’s been noticed that the actual expected processing times for economic immigration programs are longer than what’s mentioned on the website. To give a more up-to-date and real-time estimate, this tool will be updated in the upcoming months.
The new memo mentions that the invite for the FSWP and CEC candidates has been put on hold for the first half of 2022, and no resumption date has been declared yet. All these measures are being taken to speed up the immigration processing and clearing the backlogs of more than 1.8 million people, including students, families, refugees, visitors, citizenship applicants, temporary foreign workers, and visitors.
Ways in which the IRCC is reducing processing times
A media was recently released by IRCC that shows the advanced data analytics being used to speed up the Temporary Resident Visa Applications. Applications are assessed 87% faster, but the final refusal or recommendation is only done by the immigration officers and not the software.
To modernize the working structure of IRCC in the post-pandemic era, around 500 new processing staff was hired, newer digitized applications were set up and employees in all global offices of IRCC were reallocated. Due to the reduction in in-person services, some paper-based immigration programs have been shifted online and the online application portal is said to be fully functional by spring/summer 2022. It’s been observed that these new changes have already set the average processing times for the spousal sponsorship applicants on track. IRCC has also developed a portal to allow permanent residence applicants in Canada to finalize their process and receive their permanent residency cards without any in-person interaction. From June 2021 to December 2021, 225,000 permanent residents have used this portal. IRCC has introduced online testing, created an application tracker, and launched virtual citizenship ceremonies for their citizenship applicants. Since April 2020, Canada has sworn 170,000 new Canadians and hopes to expand this number with the help of these virtual ceremonies. For the future citizens of Canada, the government is looking forward to allowing the people to self-administer the signed Oath and celebrate later. This is being done to reduce waiting time during the final stage of citizenship.