Dear Mr Brown,
The delays at the embassy are unbearable. I am still waiting for the permit. Is the Canadian Government doing anything to improve the situation?
Federal task force
A federal task force was created to review service delivery, identify gaps and areas for improvement, and to make recommendations to improve the quality and efficiency of government services which include, but are not limited to, airports, passport offices, and those waiting for immigration applications to be processed.
Providing an update on the progress made so far, the Government touted improvements including:
• hiring more than 700 new staff for passport offices
• decreasing passport call centre wait times
• setting up more passport “pick-up services and triage measures”
• hiring 1,800 more security screening officers at airports
• decreasing flight delays, cancellations and baggage woes
• hiring 1,250 new staff to tackle the backlog and accelerate processing immigration applications.
In assessing the service delivery crisis, task force co-chair, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien said it was the result of demand far exceeding the federal government’s capacity to respond after travel restrictions and border closures ended, which situation was further exacerbated by reduced processing capacity due to remote work and social distancing.
Due to the Canadian Immigration backlogs, including visas and permit applications, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding international students facing delays to attend school for September.
The wait times are unprecedented in recent history. Many students will likely have to defer their studies.
The Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has stated that the department started trying about a month ago to figure out whether it could prioritise students whose studies were due to start in September, without jeopardising the efficiency of the overall effort. He stated that the Immigration Department is processing more study permits than ever before but the delays are being driven by the huge increase in demand at this stage of the pandemic. There is a 17 per cent increase over the same period in 2021.
Many universities and colleges have also approached the immigration ministry with their concerns. Some institutions will provide a remote option for students unable to reach Canada at the start of the term because they have not yet received a visa.
Critics have observed that there does not seem to be any rationale for some applications being processed on time while others are not. However, a recent report by the House of Commons immigration committee shows processing times for student visas have grown substantially since the onset of the novel cornavirus pandemic. Government standards dictate the application should take only about two months to process, but between December 2020 and November 2021 the average wait time was 82 days. Some applications have taken up to six months to process.
Ironically, Fraser said that he is not concerned about tarnishing Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for international students because Canada is having its best year ever in terms of accepting a record number of students. Fraser said he expects processing times for international student visas to return to government standards by the end of the year.
Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study & Work programme, visas or appeals, etc.
Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments