Canada has become the fastest-growing country in the G7. Canada’s population has grown by 1.8 million since the 2016 census, and this has been primarily due to its immigration policies. The May 11, 2021 Canadian census data shows that Canada’s population has risen twice as fast as other G7 countries, including Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK and US.
Almost 37 million people now consider Canada their home. This growth was driven by immigration, not fertility. 80% of the 1.8 million people added to the population were temporary citizens or immigrants who obtained permanent status. Immigration continues to be the primary driver of population growth in most provinces and territories. However, a record number of applications, border restrictions and other pandemic-related factors have led to delays for many applicants, with long waits for application updates.
Last year, Canada welcomed more than 405,000 new permanent residents, the most immigrants in a single year in Canadian history. On February 14, 2022, Canada released its 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan, increasing the target goal of permanent residents to 431,645 for 2022.
Overcoming the Immigration Backlog
According to the Canadian Government, removing the backlog and creating more predictable processing times for current and new immigrants to Canada will be possible through the digitization of the Canadian immigration system.
On January 31st of 2022, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) introduced measures to reduce backlogs, enhance the application experience and modernize the Canadian immigration system. To facilitate application delays, the government of Canada proposed $85 million in new funding to reduce application delays. 500 new immigration processing staff will be trained and employed, and work is being reallocated among offices around the world. The government is also working to reduce processing times for visitor visas and proof of citizenship.
To help accelerate the IRCC’s processing work, they are expanding the use of advanced data analytics in helping officers sort and process visitor visa applications submitted from outside Canada. During the time this data analytics system has been in use for visitor visas, it has been shown that routine files can be assessed 87% faster. Program integrity was maintained and some applicants received decisions more quickly.
In 2021 over half a million decisions on permanent resident applications were made by IRCC. Processing capacity is being increased, and during the first quarter of 2022, 147,000 permanent final decisions are planned, which is double what it was in 2021. To further support permanent residence applicants, IRCC will be expanding the digital application portal to include more clients in summer 2022. Clients will receive immediate confirmation that their application was successfully submitted. Average processing times for spousal sponsorship applicants have returned to the service standard of 12 months for new applications, as a result of these efforts.
New Digital Immigration Tools
Beginning in 2021, and continuing into 2022, IRCC budgeted to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform that would gradually replace its legacy Global Case Management System.
The Client Application Status (CAS) tool was replaced in 2021 with Your Citizenship Application Tracker, a simple and secure tool to check the status of citizenship grant applications. You can create a tracker account only after receiving your Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter or email. If you submitted your application you should immediately get an email that confirms you’ve successfully submitted your application. That email is not your AOR.
Also in 2021, a new online portal for permanent residence applicants was launched, for applying for and obtaining residency cards and citizenship without any in-person interaction. 225,000 permanent residents used this portal from June 2021 to December 2021.
For citizenship applicants, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced online testing, application tracking and virtual citizenship ceremonies. Over the past few months, IRCC has hosted about 350 virtual ceremonies per month. More than 170,000 new Canadians were sworn in since April 1, 2020.
IRCC is exploring another option for those wishing to self-administer their Oath by signed attestation, to shorten the waiting time for those at the final stage of the citizenship process. These new citizens would celebrate their citizenship at a later date.
On February 8, 2022, a new Permanent Residence Application Tracker was presented. The new tracker allows spouses and dependents to review their application status online. In its initial launch, the tracker is only available for people sponsoring or being sponsored as a spouse, partner, or dependent child.
To use the application tracker, you will create your PR tracker account and then sign in. If you had a Client Application Status (CAS) tool login, you will not be able to re-use your CAS username and password. You need a Chrome, Safari or Firefox web browser to access your account.
On February 8, 2022, the government of Canada also announced plans to launch a new Digital Case Status Tracker. The process of immigrating to Canada can be both exciting and stressful. As part of IRCC’s ongoing efforts to provide meaningful and transparent information to clients, and modernize their services to better respond to applicants’ needs, they have developed these digital case study trackers. The case status tracker for family class permanent residence applications will give applicants access to all of the same information they would get if they contacted an IRCC client service agent.
Linking an Application to Your IRCC Secure Account
You can check your Client Application Status or link an application to your IRCC secure account to receive email updates.
To get the most up-to-date case study information, receive online updates for an application you submitted, change your sign-in partner, switch to a GCKey, upload documents, or take over an application from an authorized representative, you may benefit from linking an application to your IRCC secure account.
If you’re applying under the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway, wait to link your application to your IRCC account until after you receive your acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) letter or email.
Broad application categories include the Interim Federal Health Program, permanent residence, permanent residence cards and temporary residence; and there are many sub-categories.
- Submit your application in one of the ways specified for your application type.
- Create your IRCC secure account, or log in if you have an account.
- Link your application to your IRCC secure account.
- Receive online updates and messages about your application.
It’s important to note that after you link your application, you won’t receive paper letters about your application anymore. IRCC will send messages about your application to your account.
After you link the application, it will appear under the “View my submitted applications or profiles” section on the main account page. Click “Check status and messages” to see the application status and any messages about the application.