Grumblings about Canada’s backlog of applications for permanent residency were rife on social media Tuesday in the wake of Ottawa’s announcement that it was planning to allow record-breaking numbers of immigrants into the country.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser presented his three-year immigration plan for 2022 through to 2024 on St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, in what seemed like a love affair between Canada and foreign nationals wanting to immigrate here.
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The plan boosts immigration levels by 20,000 more new permanent residents for this year and 26,000 more for 2023 than the previous plan.
Ottawa is now hoping to welcome 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.
Under the previous plan, Canada was to welcome 411,000 new permanent residents in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
On Monday, Fraser lauded the contributions of immigrants to communities throughout Canada, saying the arrival of immigrants has helped shape Canada into the country that it is today.
Applicants Call on Ottawa to Deal With Their Applications Before Taking Any More On
In the Twitterverse, though, Ottawa’s openness to foreign nationals hoping to immigrate to Canada was met with considerable criticism over its existing backlog of applications and processing delays.
“How about clearing the backlogs first?” asked one user on Twitter. “There are thousands of applications languishing without being touched for more than six months to a year.”
That Twitter user, who claims to be waiting for a temporary resident visa, lambasted Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for an apparent lack of sufficient staff to process the current backlogs.
Others with applications submitted to the IRCC agreed.
“Please, try to work on applied citizenship applications,” begged another Twitter user. “Especially those applications (where the applicant) has (already) taken the citizenship interview and test and been asked for more supporting documents which were submitted … four months ago.”
Frustrated applicants for immigration to Canada repeatedly asked on Twitter for Canadian immigration officials to first deal with their applications before opening the floodgates to more prospective immigrants.
“You guys should first clear backlogs, people who have one to two years of experience under Express Entry,” suggested another user on Twitter. “Why should they have to suffer and wait for that long period of time?”
Canada’s backlog of 1.8 million permanent residence, temporary residence and citizenship applications that are waiting to be processed is an issue that has plagued the current government.
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In late January, Fraser admitted he did not know when regular Express Entry draws would resume for federal economic programs. Immigration officials are struggling to reduce the inventory before Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker invitations can once again be issued.
And the growing chorus of critics isn’t limited to strangers on social media. Member of Parliament Jasraj Singh Hallan, the Conservative Party’s immigration critic, has also taken the current government to task for the delays in processing applications to the IRCC”
“The massive backlog the Liberal government has created at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is not only hurting hard-working newcomers, families, immigrants and business owners, it also threatens billions of dollars of much-needed economic growth in Canada,” he tweeted.
In December last year, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Ottawa announced steps Canada is taking to meet this challenge.
According to Freeland, Canada will be spending $85 million this year and in 2023 to both process more applications and reduce processing times in key areas affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This will help to ensure Canada’s immigration system is well-positioned to help meet Canada’s economic and labour force goals,” said Freeland in statement in December.
IRCC Hired 500 More Employees and Is Using Advanced Data Analytics to Clear Backlog
Her statement also spoke of the importance of immigration when it comes to attracting top global talent, meeting the needs of employers, and addressing labour shortages.
“Immigrants and temporary foreign workers help Canada meet long- and short-term labour market needs, respectively, and international students and visitors are vital to the institutions and businesses they support,” said Freeland.
“They are not only essential to Canada’s economy but also bring fresh perspectives and connect Canada to the world.”
Among the steps Ottawa has already taken to clear its existing backlog of applications with that $85 million is the hiring of 500 additional employees.
They were hired to help the country bring immigration application processing times – and the time to approve study permits, work permits and permanent resident card renewals – back in line with its service standards by the end of this year.
Canada is also making more use of advanced data analytics to pre-sort visitor visa applications, cutting the time needed to process them by 87 per cent.
“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,” states the immigration department’s website.