Canada immigration news: Canada is waiving the need for immigration medical exams for up to 180,000 applicants for temporary and permanent residence who are already in the country, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says.
The move comes as Canada is adding up to 1,250 immigration employees and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is moving towards a fully-digital, online processing system. The two moves are both intended to speed up the processing of applications.
“Immigration is about people. It’s about starting a new job, reuniting a family and creating a new life in this beautiful country we call home,” said Fraser in a statement.
“As we look to strengthen our immigration system by updating our technology, people, our clients, must be at the centre of all that we do. By adding resources where they are needed, and leveraging technology to make processing faster and applying easier for our clients, we can give newcomers and new citizens the welcoming experience they deserve.”
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With opposition politicians criticizing the IRCC for its massive backlog of applications, Canadian immigration officials are firing back by stressing the advances they have made over the last year.
“To quickly process family reunification applications during the pandemic, IRCC began conducting telephone and video interviews with sponsors and applicants,” the immigration department noted in a statement.
“Despite public health challenges, by pivoting quickly, the department was able to welcome more than 69,000 spouses, partners and children in 2021. By modernizing our services and adding support where needed, we have now returned to the pre-pandemic service standard of 12 months for all new spousal sponsorship applications.”
On Sept. 23, the IRCC intends to transition to 100 per cent digital applications for most of the permanent residence programs. Alternative formats will be available for those who require accommodations.
IRCC Still Had Pile Of 2.4m Applications As Of July 31
According to the IRCC website which provides monthly updates on the number of applications in the system, Canadian immigration officials were facing roughly 2.4 million applications on July 31, with 1.3 million of those beyond the service standard.
The vast majority of those applications, 1.4 million of them, were for temporary residence and, of those, less than half, 41 per cent, were within the time of the service standard.
The situation was a bit better for the 639,500 permanent residence applications where 47 per cent were within the service standard.
There were then also 379,000 applications for Canadian citizenship.
“IRCC is moving towards a more integrated, modernized and centralized working environment in order to help speed up application processing globally,” said IRCC spokesman Stuart Isherwood in an e-mail to Immigration.ca.
“To support the processing and settlement of new permanent residents to Canada as part of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, the government has committed $2.1 billion over five years and $317.6 million ongoing in new funding in Budget 2022.
$85m Funding Helps Reduce Application Backlogs
“Supported by additional funding of $85 million from the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, we are continuing our efforts to reduce application inventories accumulated during the pandemic.
“The funding builds on the work that has already been done to reduce wait times, such as hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications, and implementing technology-based solutions such as digital intake and advanced analytics.”
In the past few months, the pile of applications at the IRCC has dropped by a few hundred thousand. But, on social media, many of those waiting for decisions from the Canadian immigration department are fed up.
“We are waiting for interview more than years, we missed our loved one,” wrote one Twitter user. “Please help us to reunite with our families.”
In one tweet, an applicant for immigration to Canada claims that the stress of waiting for a decision from the IRCC has even pushed some people over the edge, leading them to commit suicide.
“People are stressed, depressed and waiting from years,” tweeted another man. “Please unite people with their loved ones.”
Canadian immigration officials are trying to assuage that distress by providing more feedback about the status of applications.
In February the IRCC launched a new application status tracker to allow permanent residence applicants, sponsors and their representatives in the spouse, partner and dependent child categories to more easily check their application status online.
“By spring 2023, we will have expanded this application status tracker to include seven more permanent residence and temporary residence programs,” the IRCC wrote in a statement. “We also introduced a citizenship application status tracker for clients in May 2021, which will be expanded to include access to representatives this month.”
This autumn, the immigration department will start publishing forward-looking estimates of how long it will take to process an application.