The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all – from businesses to individuals, relationships, marriages, kids, lifestyles, and everything else. It was a sudden and unexpected change that shook our world and would forever live with us. While COVID-19 is no longer news, the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s response to applications remains news, an unsatisfying one at that. IRCC continues to draw applicants from various immigration pools despite their incapacity to process received applications.
An internal briefing memo on IRCC News released on November 25, 2021, reveals that IRCC is holding off on inviting Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates to tackle application backlogs. The memo states, “this strategy led to significant inventory growth, creating a backlog of applications, and processing times in excess of the service standards for all economic categories.”
IRCC News reported that its backlog stood at 1.8 million applications as of October 2021 from 1.5 million applications in July 2021. This includes permanent residence, temporary residence, and Canadian citizenship applications. Statistics show there were 99,968 Express Entry permanent residence applications awaiting processing as of October 27, 2021. This indicates some progress in reducing Express Entry application backlogs from 108,500 noted in the September 03, 2021 IRCC’s briefing note, showing a decrease by about 8,500 applications over that period. In September 2020, the backlog of Express Entry candidates was 62,450 candidates. Comparatively, the backlog has nearly doubled over one year, amid IRCC’s strategy to focus on providing permanent residency to candidates within Canada. IRCC says it will need to cut the Express Entry backlog by “more than half” to achieve its Express Entry processing standard of six months or less., which could take up to a year to achieve.
Understandably, the initial lockdowns affected IRCC’s operations but considering it has been over 21 months since COVID started, their inability to pivot and adjust like many government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is alarming. Lives, incomes, hopes and dreams are being dashed by the unexplained delays in the immigration process. Many intending immigrants have sold their belongings and tendered their resignation letters in hopes of starting their new live in Canada, but they are now left in limbo. Immigration consultants and lawyers have had their livelihoods threatened because the Canadian border closure has left potential immigrants pessimistic and unsure of when Canada will get its acts right.
Predictably, international students’ applications have been prioritized because they generate income for Canada. Concessions have been made to accommodate foreign students, including permitting them to start their studies online. This shows that IRCC can resolve the backlogs in Express Entry and Family Sponsorship applications if it deems it a priority. Considering the ongoing labour shortage in Canada, prioritizing the immigration application of skilled immigrants will boost the economy and morale of stakeholders in the immigration sector. IRCC needs to needs to hire more skilled hands to deal with the application backlogs. Would IRCC do this or keep making excuses?