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IRCC is in the Process of Reorganizing the Acceptance of Applications

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As outlined in the recently unveiled strategy, “An Immigration System for Canada’s Future,” Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intends to restore application processing times to meet service standards for key programs and reassess them. This initiative includes coordinating application intake with the available admission spaces.

The strategy emphasizes that aligning application intake with admission capacities is crucial for preventing prolonged waits experienced by applicants when program demand surpasses available spaces. It highlights that managing admissions intake to reduce wait times will empower applicants and their support networks to plan for their arrival more effectively, facilitating smoother settlement and integration in Canada.

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Some Programs are Facing an Excess of Applications

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) is grappling with a backlog stretching back three years to the onset of the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, despite border closures, travel restrictions, and temporary office closures affecting application processing, IRCC continued accepting PGP applications. This occurred even though the program issues a limited number of visas annually. A recent memo from IRCC revealed an existing backlog of nearly 100,000 individuals for the PGP. And as of 2023, the department is still addressing applications from the 2020 pool.

The PGP enables Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents. Allowing them to reside in Canada.

Present Backlog Status

IRCC’s objective is to handle 80% of all applications within specified service standards. Reflecting the time the department deems appropriate for processing an application.

Service standards vary based on the application type. For instance, Express Entry applications should ideally be processed within six months. While family class sponsorship applications may take up to a year.

According to the most recent data from IRCC, as of September 30, there were 2,194,900 applications in the inventory. With 928,000 categorized as backlog (not processed within service standards).

This represents a slight decrease from the 2,198,000 applications in inventory at the end of August.

In September, the highest number of backlogged applications (585,700) pertained to temporary residence visas. Including work permits, study visas, and visitor visas. This figure indicates an 18% increase compared to the August data.

Audit Findings

The adjustment of application intake constitutes a key component of the IRCC’s strategy to enhance processing times. This strategy is informed by a recent report from Canada’s Auditor General (OAG), which scrutinized IRCC processing times and identified frequent delays. The OAG recommends that the IRCC establish attainable and dependable service standards for all permanent residency programs.

Additionally, the OAG report suggests that IRCC assesses backlogged applications to identify and address processing delays within its control. The department prioritized the resolution of older backlogged applications. The IRCC Strategy outlines plans to incorporate digital tools, enabling officers to more efficiently process requests from global offices. The OAG report aligns with this approach, proposing that adjusting workload in regional offices based on capacity will contribute to the overall solution.

Furthermore, the IRCC Strategy emphasizes the increased use of Advanced Analytics to automate determinations for routine cases, ensuring an absence of inherent bias. This facet of the strategy is already underway, with IRCC announcing in September its intention to enhance the use of Advanced Analytics in processing Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) and Work Permit Extensions.

These tools aim to streamline “clerical and repetitive tasks” in prioritizing applications, potentially simplifying the application intake process. Moreover, by automating routine tasks, immigration officers can allocate more time to urgent or complex applications.

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