Canadian Immigration Lawyers call on IRCC to share backlog reduction plan
On February 14th, the Canadian government revealed the most ambitious Immigration Levels Plan in its history. It aims to welcome more than 1.3 million immigrants by the end of 2024.
- 2022: 431,645 permanent residents
- 2023: 477,055 permanent residents, and
- 2024: 451,000 permanent residents.
Although this is a decent increase from the previous plan, it is important to keep in mind that Canada had a backlog of nearly 1.8 million applications last year.
On November 29, 2021, prior to introducing the 2022-2024 levels plan, the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) called on IRCC to release a backlog reduction plan. According to the association, a backlog reduction plan will create more transparency and certainty for immigration applicants.
“Just as concerning as the backlogs is the lack of communication by IRCC towards its clients. Keep in mind that IRCC has a mandate to communicate with its clients, who spend significant money to have their applications processed in a timely fashion. ” said CILA.
Further, on January 27, 2022, CILA presented to the Senate Working Group on Immigration, six key issues currently impacting the immigration system: backlogs and client experience, essential workers, family reunification, international students, permanent resident cards, and business immigration. Immigration Lawyers not only presented the problems in the system but also recommendations for each of these issues.
CILA has been advocating for improvements to immigration-related policies and departmental operations, since 2021.
Changes in the immigration system (2022)
Later, on January 31, 2022, the Federal Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, announced two measures to get the immigration system back on track:
- An investment of $85 million to reduce the backlog in Canada’s immigration system, also
- New functionalities to transform the immigration system into a modern and digital immigration platform.
However, the Minister did not comment on when IRCC would resume the rounds of invitations for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has not invited CEC candidates since September 2021. Moreover, we haven’t seen an FSWP draw since December 2020. These applicants don’t know where they stand in the queue.
After this announcement, Canada revealed its plan to welcome more than 1.3 million immigrants by the end of 2024.
Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024
Some highlights of the new plan are:
A long-term focus on economic growth, with 56% of admissions from the Economic Class. Moreover, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) will be the main admissions program for economic class immigrants with IRCC looking to land 83,500 newcomers via the PNP in 2022.
Also, the plan includes help for vulnerable populations, like the special measures for granting permanent residence to refugee claimants working in health care during the pandemic. In addition, Canada will retent those already in Canada by granting permanent status to temporary residents accepted through the time-limited pathways for essential workers launched in spring 2021.
Further, Canada will give more support for global crises by providing a safe haven through humanitarian immigration to those facing persecution. Moreover, the family class will comprise around 24% of admissions targets in 2022, with 80,000 set to arrive under the Spouses, Partners, and Children Program, and 25,000 set to arrive under the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP). Of course, the remaining 20% of immigrants will arrive under refugee and humanitarian programs. Canada plans to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan nationals over the next 2 years.
In terms of Francophone immigration, Canada is also working to reach a target of 4.4%of French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec by 2023.
CILA’s Statement on Canada’s Immigration Plan
The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association was “pleased” with the newcomer increase announced under the new Immigration Levels Plan. However, CILA regrets that FSWP and CEC candidates will be negatively impacted by this plan. As we mentioned before the PNP will be the main admissions program for economic class immigrants.
“FSWP candidates have unfairly paid the price throughout the pandemic,” said the association. It added that “halving of Express Entry admissions this year will also be of grave consequence to Canadian Experience Class candidates”.
The pause in CEC invitations since September 2021 is creating significant hardship for thousands of international students and temporary foreign workers who have spent years contributing to Canada’s economy and society, and who now have fewer permanent residence spots available to them. CILA.
In addition, CILA believes “processing times for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program (SUVP) are not globally competitive”. It continues “IRCC has noted that processing times for the SUVP are now up to six years which is far too slow to support an innovation-driven economy”. Further, CILA asked IRCC to extend its Spousal Open Work Permit Pilot Program to spouses and partners living outside of Canada.
For this and many other reasons, CILA once again calls on IRCC to share its backlog reduction plan.
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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
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