According to a report by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states that Canada will seek to process a total of 285,000 decisions and 300,000 new citizens by March 31, 2023.
A decision is IRCC’s review of an application – which is then approved, denied, or marked as incomplete. Whereas, the citizenship target justifies that 300,000 approved applicants must take the oath of citizenship, either virtually or in person.
These statistics showcase a significant increase over the 2021-2022 fiscal year as well as the pre-pandemic targets of 2019-2020 – when 253,000 citizenship applications were processed.
Considering the targets of 2021-2022, IRCC successfully invited 217,000 new citizens. A drastic increase has been seen in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, where IRCC is well on track to hit the target - and has so far welcomed 116,000 new citizens. Over the same period in 2021, Canada had only managed to welcome 35,000 new citizens.
This report by the IRCC outlines the recent challenges involved with processing applications not just for citizenship, but also for popular PR programs including Express Entry Program and Provincial Nominee Program - alongside ensuring all positive decisions can take the oath of citizenship within a reasonable timeframe.
Owing to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC was unable to process most applications back in 2020. The key reason was that the IRCC was only able to process paper-based applications that were sent to a central location. Furthermore, since all in-person interactions were canceled, IRCC was unable to conduct interviews – resulting in no oath swearing at citizenship ceremonies.
Such setbacks led to a shift towards making the citizenship application process completely digital – beginning in November 2020. However, despite streamlining the process for new applicants, a massive backlog of paper applications still remains.
The report states that IRCC will continue with its current system of first-come-first-served for all applications – maintaining focus on older paper-based applications, while also making room to deal with newer digital applications to prevent backlog growth.
Back in 2021, out of the total 245,000 decisions, IRCC had a target of 5,000 digital applications for the fiscal year. As of now, a majority of applications are digital – and as per the report, the number of digital applications processed will increase.
In a subsequent report published by the IRCC, processing times stood at 27 months. The report states that this is to be expected due to the increase in online applications – in addition to the massive backlog of paper-based applications. As of June, there were a total of 413,000 applications in IRCC’s inventory.
IRCC aims to take drastic steps towards clearing this massive backlog – and processing 80% of new applications within the standard Canada PR Visa process times. To overcome this, 1,000 new employees have been hired – and there are plans to expand access to the citizenship application status tracker to representatives.
Additionally, minors under the age of 18 will also be eligible to apply for online citizenship by the end of the year.
Don't wait. The time will never be just right.
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