Canada’s immigration minister restated his promise to improve processing times for work permits during meetings with the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. CIC will now use its $85 million budget to reduce processing times that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The processing time/response time should return to normal by the end of this year. IEC work permits are supposed to be processed in 56 days. Work permit extensions submitted in Canada have a processing standard of 120 days. Before the pandemic, IRCC met these standards more than 87 percent of the time. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Canada Immigration operations around the world halted operations. The result eventually led to a backlog in applications. As of February 1, it has more than 85,000 work permit applications in its inventory.
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Beyond the temporary measures that have been enacted in order to clear the immigration backlog caused by difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is looking at making permanent changes to the immigration system that should increase efficiency and reduce processing times for potential applicants.
There are plans for Canada to allow more foreign health care workers to move to Canada. Processing applications for health care workers will continue to be prioritized, as it has been during the pandemic. Health care worker applicants can expect lower than usual processing times, however how much lower than usual is unclear as of now.
The government is planning to expand a pilot project that allows 10-20 percent of permanent resident applicants to file their applications online. Later in 2022, all permanent resident applications will be digitized, eliminating the need for paper forms, and speeding up the process for those involved. As part of the digitization effort, there will be confirmation that an application has been submitted, which should give some peace of mind to applicants.
Another tool that will make the application process easier is an applicant tracking tool for spouses, partners, and dependants. This will allow that given access to the application to track the application in real-time, which was not possible under the previous paper-based system. The digitization efforts will allow the government to roll out this additional tool to help streamline the application process.