In the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has faced processing delays, according to the organization. However, nearly two years later, the majority of the department’s physical offices are still closed. Many candidates told CBC News that they are in limbo, with no apparent method to check on their applications.
As of October 27, as per IRCC data, Canada has a backlog of almost 1.8 million immigration applications, including:
- There were 5,48,195 applications for permanent residence, including 1,12,392 refugee petitions.
- 7,75,741 applications for temporary residence (study permits, work permits, temporary resident visas, and visitor extensions).
- There have been 4,68,000 petitions for citizenship in Canada.
Prior to the pandemic, the typical processing period for PR applications was six months.
According to Candy Hui, a qualified immigration counsellor in Regina, Canada’s immigration process is frequently unpredictable and arbitrary. “The processing times are quite sporadic and the stated processing times on IRCC’s website aren’t very reliable,” Hui said. “These delays are damaging Canada’s reputation as an ideal country to immigrate to.”
Even urgent situations land on “deaf ears,” according to Lou Janssen Dangzalan, an immigration lawyer in Toronto. Dangzalan claimed that the IRCC had been unfairly using the pandemic as an excuse for the delays and had now turned to the Afghan issue.
The department recently pledged to expedite 20,000 extra applications for Afghans who are vulnerable. “It’s impossible to keep riding the pandemic horse indefinitely. Nearly two years into the pandemic, this argument is wearing thin. They are attempting to beat a dead horse with a stick,” Dangzalan stated.
Shortages of people and resources, obsolete immigration technological capabilities, and a lack of political action are all contributing to the backlog, according to Dangzalan. “The government has set up a system in which you can only communicate with authorities if you pay thousands of dollars to employ representation. It has become extremely obfuscated and unjust,” he stated.
In a report released in May, the Information Commissioner of Canada found that the IRCC was besieged with access-to-information applications from applicants merely seeking information about their immigration files because they thought they had no other way to get immediate updates.
The IRCC received 1,16,928 access requests in the 2019-20 fiscal year, up 42 per cent from the previous year, with 98.9% of those requests relating to immigration application files. However, Dangzalan claims that the administration has yet to release a comprehensive plan for dealing with the queue.
IRCC recognized the persistent delays in an email but claimed that it had enhanced technology and modernized its processes. Delays in processing applications are tearing families apart in many circumstances.