Immigration Processing Times To Get Back on Track in 2022 – Says Minister Fraser
New Measures to reduce wait times, modernize immigration system
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, on Monday, said the government will get back on track by the end of the year after COVID-19 caused a major backlog in the processing of immigration applications and long waits for people seeking status in Canada.
Fraser announced measures to improve client experience and modernize the immigration system. These measures are part of a broader process to address key challenges faced by our clients, and achieve the more predictable processing times that our clients expect and deserve.
The Government of Canada proposed $85 million in new funding to reduce application inventories. The investment will support additional staff, allowing to welcome people who can help address labour shortages and to return to processing service standards in various programs by the end of this year, including for study permits, work permits and permanent resident card renewals. The government also is working to reduce processing times for visitor visas and proof of citizenship.
These improvements will build on what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has already done to reduce wait times, such as hiring approximately 500 new processing staff, digitizing applications, and reallocating work among our offices around the world.
To help accelerate processing work, The government will be expanding the use of advanced data analytics in helping officers sort and process visitor visa applications submitted from outside Canada. During the time the data analytics system has been used for visitor visas, it has been shown that routine files can be assessed 87% faster, resulting in some applicants receiving decisions more quickly while program integrity is maintained. An IRCC officer will always make the final decision, but this system will improve client service by helping IRCC manage the increasing volume of visitor visa applications.
IRCC made over half a million decisions on permanent resident applications in 2021. The IRCC are further increasing processing capacity and plan to make 147,000 permanent residence final decisions in the first quarter of 2022—doubling what was done in the same period last year.
To further support permanent residence applicants, the government will be expanding the digital application portal to include more clients in summer 2022. The transition to an online application process will minimize COVID-19-related delays associated with processing paper applications and will provide clients with immediate confirmation that their application was successfully submitted. Efforts to date have allowed average processing times for spousal sponsorship applicants to return to the service standard of 12 months for new applications.
To further address COVID-19-related challenges and expedite the process, 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.
“For citizenship applicants, IRCC has introduced online testing, developed an online application tracker and launched virtual citizenship ceremonies. Over the last few months, we have hosted approximately 350 virtual ceremonies per month, and more than 170,000 new Canadians have been sworn in since April 1, 2020. They are continuing to expand the use of virtual ceremonies. Moving forward, are exploring an option for those who wish to self-administer their Oath by signed attestation, and celebrate their citizenship at a later date. This would shorten the waiting time for those at the final stage of their citizenship process.”
“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals. Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority for me. Immigration benefits all Canadians—it helps grow our economy and strengthens our communities across the country. Many people are choosing Canada as the place to visit and build their future, and to ensure that we stay competitive, we have introduced concrete measures to make sure those who want to come to Canada have the client experience they deserve,” Minister Fraser said.