According to a policy memorandum obtained by The Globe and Mail, the federal government is considering measures to reduce the backlog of immigration applications, including:
CREDIT: CARLOS OSORIO/REUTERS
According to a draft document in December, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is trying to significantly reduce or eliminate the backlog of tourist visa applications by the end of February this year and is willing to take "measures" to achieve this goal. As of early December, there were more than 700,000 temporary residence visa applications in the system.
By the end of last year, the Department of Immigration had more than one, including work and study permit applications, as well as permanent residence applications. IRCC is concerned that the massive backlog of applications is "eroding public trust in the sector," the memo reads.
According to the memorandum, in order to reduce the number of visitor visa applications, to:
- The first option was to process about 195,000 applications in batches. This may include a large number of visitors from countries that require a visa to enter Canada.
- The second option is that Immigration Minister Sean Fraser will waive certain eligibility requirements for about 450,000 applications. As efforts to reduce the backlog of temporary residence visa applications are already underway, this decision will apply to all remaining applications.
Source: CTV News
It is reported that by waiving the eligibility requirements, at the same time, immigration officials will also
Visitors are still subject to entry eligibility checks. For example, ensuring that the applicant does not pose a threat to national security.
Two sources within IRCC said The Globe and Mail did not disclose sources because they were not allowed to publicly discuss departmental policies.
It would be a temporary measure to reduce the backlog, and the final policy may differ from what is proposed in the memorandum.
Fraser did not respond to questions related to the policy memorandum or the changes under consideration in a statement.
He said: ""
More than 260,000 tourist visas were processed last November, compared to an average of about 180,000 monthly visas in 2019, he said. While we have seen progress, there is still a lot of work to be done to meet the pre-pandemic processing timeline. ”
The memo also mentioned the possibility of keeping the measures private, adding that immigration consultants may note "a large number of high approval rates" and that these measures will eventually be disclosed in requests for information.
IRCC is under considerable pressure to reduce the backlog of applications. As at 30 November last year, there were approximately 2.1 million applications in the system, more than half of which were backlogged, i.e. exceeding the processing service standard. This is an improvement from the 2.6 million applications in the system two months ago.
Tourists and immigrant visa applicants are frustrated by the processing delays. This damaged IRCC's reputation and triggered a series of legal proceedings. For example, some permanent residence applicants have waited for years, while others have their work permits expiring, and there has been no word on whether they can stay and continue working.
IRCC says it has invested millions of dollars in processing capacity and hired hundreds of new employees to speed up approvals.
Fraser said at a press conference last December, "Actually, we're getting out of the system faster than coming in, which gives me confidence that we're back on track." ”
However, the backlog of applications is still significantly higher than before the pandemic, and the influx of applications continues as the federal government pursues record immigration targets.
Fraser can exercise his powers under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to waive eligibility requirements. Recently, the government took this step to speed up visa processing for participants at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal.
Pros and cons of temporary exemption from eligibility requirements
The memorandum outlines the advantages and disadvantages of such measures. On the bright side, this will.
However, the document says not all applicants are "genuine tourists." India and Nigeria are the two largest sources of temporary residence visa applications, with two countries in the top 10 of Canada's asylum application rankings. According to this document,
In addition, the memo said IRCC will approve people who have been denied visas in the past and have "negative information."
Two sources at the immigration department said it was a hasty decision that would result in less scrutiny of the application. They said many employees within the department were disappointed by the practice.
Sources also questioned the effectiveness of such measures in quickly reducing backlogs, as immigration officials still have to check applications for entry eligibility.
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