Canadas immigration department

Canada’s immigration department increased its staff, but processing remains slow

According to never-before-published data, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) increased its capacity by 45% from pre-pandemic levels. However, the processing continues to be slow.

Canada’s immigration department currently has 8,104 front-line operations staff, reported Toronto Star. It is up from 5,583 in March 2019, with the majority of the new employees hired since the start of 2022. Additionally, the number of workers who continued to telework decreased from about 100% at the start of the pandemic to 71.8% last month. On top of that, IRCC has been using big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to help IRCC officers process applications.

Nevertheless, only eight months into 2022, Canada already received almost as many applications for temporary and permanent residents as it did in 2019.

Processing woes continue

Through the main immigration programs, Canada had received more than 2.9 million new applications for permanent and temporary residents as of August 31. Those figures will undoubtedly raise the total above the 3.2 million files in 2019, with four months left in 2022.

Over the time period, immigration officials processed 2.25 million immigration applications — 207,590 permanent and 2.04 million temporary residents, compared to the total of 3,225,130 (235,257 permanent and 2.99 million temporary residents) recorded in 2019. Therefore, many people wonder what the immigration department has been doing over the past year.

Other negative numbers

According to the report, there are other numbers that immigration officials would rather see in check:

  • Web forms, the main mechanism for applicants to communicate with the department, rose from 1.61 million in 2020 to 2.26 million in 2021 and 2.42 million as of September this year.
  • Another key tool for inquiries, access-to-information requests, spiked from 98,042 pre-pandemic to 204,549 in 2021, before declining to 122,016 to date this year.
  • The number of lawsuits against the immigration department for a court order to compel officials to process a file rocketed from 112 cases in 2019 to 963 in 2022.

When will delays decrease?

According to IRCC’s forecast, federal high-skilled applications for PR, as well as applications through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), will have only a 20% backlog by December 2022. Moreover, family, spouse and children applications (except for Quebec) for PR will have a backlog of 19% by December. Citizenship applications are expected to have a 25% backlog during the same month. Also, by March 2023:

You can read more about Canada’s immigration inventories, here.

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    Andrea Neira