Canada aims to procedure 6,000 spousal sponsorship applications every month between October and December 2020. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has just announced this big news.
In order to minimise wait times and process applications more efficiently, IRCC has expanded the number of workers who will review spousal sponsorship applications by 66 per cent.
Furthermore, IRCC will use modern technologies to digitise paper applications in a pilot. This is to allow IRCC employees to work remotely and in different work environments in order to be able to process applications rapidly.
The IRCC said that facilitative biometrics initiatives would be introduced, but did not provide specifics. It will also pilot the technology in the coming weeks to remotely perform interviews with applicants.
These initiatives seek to speed up, prioritise and finalise approximately 6,000 spousal applications per month through to the end of 2020. In all, this would result in a decision to accept 49,000 applications by the end of this year.
The IRCC suggested that the coronavirus pandemic created uncertainty for Canadian citizens and permanent residents wanting to sponsor their partner. Innovative and supportive ways of bringing families together will continue to be pursued.
The processing of spousal sponsorship applications has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in recent protests.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino acknowledged the problems for families that slower processing has created, stating:
“We understand that the last few months have not been easy for those who are far from their loved ones in these difficult times. This is why we are accelerating the approval of spousal applications as much as possible. Our government will continue to find new ways to keep families together.”
Canada has targeted 70,000 spouses, families, and children under its 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Strategy to be among the estimated 341,000 immigrants it hopes to welcome in 2020. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this plan and these goals were set.
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October Will Shape Canadian Immigration for Years to Come
Over the next month, two big events will influence Canada’s immigration system for years to come.
The first will be a new mandate letter to immigration minister Marco Mendicino from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This letter will provide new immigration goals for Canada and should be published shortly, maybe as early as next week.
The second is the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Strategy for Canada. For the next three years, the proposal will detail Canada’s new permanent residence goals, and it should be revealed by 30 October.
New Immigration Mandate Letter
In Canada, when the governing party controls the government, the prime minister outlines the duties that they would like their respective cabinet members to follow. In this scenario, Trudeau will include a letter to Minister Mendicino to direct Mendicino’s attempts to lead the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operations.
Mandate letters appear to be given every two to four years to every minister. Usually, they are released when a new government assumes power and when a new portfolio is allocated to a minister. The prime minister will deliver his second letter of immigration mandate in less than one year in what will be a rare case.
However, in August, in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Trudeau ended the last session of Canada’s Parliament as he decided to reset the government’s goals.
On 23 September, during a speech from the Throne, which kicked off the new session of Parliament, the Canadian government identified new priorities. The speech on the Throne formally underscored the aim of Canada to accept more immigrants to sustain its sustainable economic position.
As such, Trudeau will now recognise new immigration goals to be followed by Mendicino and the IRCC.
Suppose any indication was given last year, the new Letter of Immigration Mandate through becoming publicly available by early October. Last year, the speech from the Throne on 5 December 2019 was accompanied by mandate letters issued on 13 December.
In Mendicino’s latest mandate letter, COVID-19 has disrupted many of the goals outlined. When he declared the Immigration Levels Plan 2020-2022 for Canada in early March, Mendicino was well on his way to enforcing the government’s immigration agenda.
But priorities such as introducing a new Municipal Candidate Initiative and removing Canadian citizenship application fees have now been postponed by the pandemic.
We should expect the upcoming mandate letter from Mendicino to strongly emphasise the coronavirus. Namely, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the government will likely provide an outline of how it aims to adjust Canadian immigration policy and how it will manage applications.
Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023
Canada will announce its Immigration Levels Strategy for the second time in the same year in another unusual event. The plan for levels is typically revealed during the last week of October every fall. The Immigration and Refugee Rights Act stipulates this.
The key legislation that governs Canada’s immigration system is the IRPA. IRPA, however, also specifies that in election years, the level plan announcement can be postponed, as was the case in 2019 when Canadians went to the polls.
Therefore, with a similar announcement that is likely to come by Friday, 30 October, Mendicino will pursue the 2020-2022 level plan announcements he made in March of this year.
IRPA notes that by November 1st each year when Parliament sits, the immigration minister is to announce the programme, but that date coincides with a weekend, and thus the announcement should occur a bit sooner.
Throughout the pandemic, Mendicino has also repeatedly reiterated the contribution of Canada to immigration. The ongoing Express Entry shows this dedication draws that IRCC conducts that see record levels of individuals receiving invitations to apply for permanent residence.
The question on everyone’s mind leading up to the forthcoming announcement by Mendicino is: How will COVID-19 affect the rate of immigration in Canada?
Canada could be forced to return to high levels of immigration over the medium and long term. This is due to the need for immigration from Canada to help its economy. The latest speech from the Throne also clearly indicates that Canada plans to return to an elevated rate of newcomers.
There is, however, much greater doubt as to how many refugees Canada will be willing to accept during the pandemic. Although the Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) attracts and continues to process applications, COVID-19 also restricts the actual number of immigrants completing their permanent residence landing process.
The combination of the new mandate letter and the unveiling of the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan will give us more clarification as to how soon the Canadian government expects that the immigration system can return to normal.