What is the backlog? Why is it a problem?
A backlog is created when the number of applications received is
greater than the number we can process or admit every year. As of December
2007, there were over 900,000 people waiting for a decision on their
Applicants in the federal skilled worker category (over 600,000) make up
the bulk of the backlog.
This leads to long wait times that prevent the system from responding
quickly to the changing needs of our economy.
is not fair for prospective immigrants to wait for years before being
considered, and it is not desirable to wait that long for the immigrants
the country needs.
workers are currently waiting up to six years to come to Canada, compared
to 6 to 12 months in Australia and New Zealand, two of our key competitors
for global talent.
How did the backlog happen?
are several factors.
the current legislation requires CIC to process every single application,
regardless of how many apply or how many can be welcomed.
just before the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was
implemented in 2002, there was a flood of applications from people who
wanted to get their applications in before the new rules took effect.
the skilled worker category, the backlog in 2000 was 374,000, growing to
524,000 by the end of 2004, and over 600,000 by the end of 2007.
What are the proposed legislative changes?
new rules would allow us to focus on getting the people we need.
will still be able to apply, but CIC would no longer be required to
process all new applications. The new provisions would allow the
Department to select among the new applications and choose those that best
meet Canada’s labour market needs. Under the current system, which is
much less flexible, CIC processes applications from skilled workers in the
order in which they are received.
Department will use this flexibility in an open and transparent manner. It
will be based on instructions from the Minister, which will be published
in the Canada Gazette and reported in the Department’s annual
report to Parliament.
Department will maintain its commitment to the broad objectives of the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act—supporting Canada’s economy and
competitiveness, family reunification and protecting those in need. The
legislative amendments are intended to respond to Canada’s labour market
needs. It will not apply to refugees and is not intended to affect our
objectives related to family reunification.
Is this fair? Doesn't this give the Minister too much discretion?
Department will use this flexibility in a fair, open and transparent
manner. It will be based on instructions provided by the Minister, which
will be published in the Canada Gazette and reported in the
Department’s annual report to Parliament. The instructions must be
consistent with the overall objectives of the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act, which are to support Canada’s economy and
competitiveness, reunite families and provide protection to those who need
annual report will also continue to set our immigration plan for the
following year, and the number of economic, refugee and family class
immigrants we expect to welcome. The amendments will not affect that.
Isn't this closing the door to immigration?
at all. Canada remains open to immigration, and anyone can apply to
immigrate. We have received additional money for processing so that we can
meet the growing demand for temporary foreign workers while ensuring that
we meet our targets for permanent residents.
are flexibilities that allow Canada to be more selective – to take
certain candidates quickly, hold some applications, and return others.
That shouldn’t deter good candidates from applying. In fact, the current
system deters many well-qualified skilled workers from applying because
they have to wait so long. The end result of the changes will be reduced
wait times and improved service.
is important in meeting Canada’s labour market needs. In 2007, Canada
accepted a record number of permanent and temporary residents.
Does this mean I can no longer apply?
Canada remains open to immigration, and anyone can apply to immigrate. The
proposed legislative amendments give the department the flexibility to be
more selective – to take certain candidates quickly, hold some
applications, and return others. That shouldn’t deter good candidates
from applying, unlike the current system which deters many well-qualified
skilled workers from applying because they have to wait so long.
What happens to someone who has already applied to immigrate to Canada?
How will the new amendments affect them?
who applied before February 27, 2008, will not be subject to the new
proposed provisions in the legislation. These provisions, once passed,
will apply to applications received on or after February 27, 2008.
What happens if people who have already applied want to withdraw their
application? Can they get their money back?
is currently the case, these people can contact their local visa office
and withdraw their application, and their fee will be returned.
What happens to someone who is planning to apply soon? What rules will
apply to them? When will they know what they are?
passed, the amendments would allow the Minister to give instructions on
the processing of new applications received on or after February 27, 2008,
at CIC offices around the world.
What impact will the amendments have on refugees?
Our immigration plan will continue to place a high priority on
humanitarian objectives, and balance those objectives against our labour
market needs. Our annual levels plan will continue to establish clear
targets for how many immigrants we intend to accept in each class. The
amendments will not affect that.
What about parents and grandparents and those who have applied for
humanitarian and compassionate consideration? There are long wait times
for them as well. Will you use the amendments to limit the number of new
applications you process in this category?
amendments are not intended to affect our objectives related to family
reunification. Our focus is on skilled workers, where wait times are long
and growing, and where we can use the flexibilities the amendments provide
to select the skilled workers that we most need in our labour market.
amendments would also not affect those people in Canada seeking
humanitarian and compassionate consideration.
In addition to the legislative amendments, what other measures are being
considered to make the immigration system more efficient?
2008 budget provided resources for efficiency improvements to better
manage the backlog. Budget resources will be used for this purpose
You received additional money for processing. How many more people will
you process? Will this allow you to increase admissions to address the
the past couple of years, Canada accepted a record number of permanent
residents, temporary workers and foreign students.
resources will allow us to better respond to the increasing demands placed
on the immigration system, both in the temporary and permanent applicant
most countries, Canada limits the number of immigrants it accepts every
year. We must carefully balance the number of immigrants we welcome
against the opportunities and supports available to help them successfully
integrate and settle into Canadian communities and the work force.
Why are processing times so long?
remains a destination of choice. Unlike most immigrant-receiving
countries, Canada does not put restrictions on the number of people who
can apply, so each year far more people apply than can be processed and
all these applications, including conducting proper medical and security
checks, does take time.
visa applications—work permit, study permit and temporary resident visa
applications—are processed upon receipt. Processing times may vary
depending on medical, criminal and other screening requirements.
is given to certain immigrant classes, and this can mean longer processing
times for other categories. For example, our aim is to give priority to
processing applications from sponsored spouses and dependent children.
Eighty percent of these cases are finalized within eight months.
Immigrants selected under the Canada-Quebec Accord or provincial nominee
agreements are given priority processing over other economic immigrants,
such as federal skilled workers.
addition, our international commitments require that applications from
people in need of protection be processed quickly.
How fast will the changes you've made allow you to reduce the backlog?
backlog accumulated over many years and it won't be solved overnight. The
amendments and resources in the budget give us the tools to start
addressing the backlog.
the bill must pass and both financial and human resources must be put in
place before work can begin.
What are skilled workers and why do we need them?
workers are selected for their ability to contribute to our economy and
establish themselves successfully in Canada. They are the most skilled and
highly educated immigrants that Canada accepts.
shows that the demand for highly qualified workers in Canada is growing.
the next decade, immigration is projected to account for all net labour
force growth in Canada. Two-thirds of the available jobs will require
post-secondary education. Jobs that require a university-level education
are the fastest growing types of jobs.
workers do well in Canada. With their generic skill set, they are better
able to weather downturns in the economy. They are also more successful in
the labour market than other immigrants, catching up to their Canadian
counterparts more quickly and earning the highest average incomes.
The Minister has to give instructions on how new applications will be
processed. How will these be made public?
when issued, will be published in the Canada Gazette. As well,
CIC will report on these instructions in its annual report tabled in
Parliament by November 1 of every year. Instructions will also be posted
on the CIC website.
I have read in media reports that the Minister would have the power to
deny admission to someone who had been approved by an officer. Is this
The bill would give the Minister the authority to issue instructions to
officers on the categories and numbers of applications to process but not
to reject an application that had been processed and accepted.
instructions, provided by the Minister, will be open and transparent. They
will be published in the Canada Gazette and reported in the Department’s
annual report to Parliament. The instructions must be consistent with the
overall objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,
which are to support Canada’s economy and competitiveness, reunite
families and provide protection to those who need it.