Canada is targeting to grant citizenship to 300000 candidates during the fiscal year 2022-2023, indicates an internal memo of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The memo recommends the IRCC to process a total of 285000 decisions and 300000 new citizens by March 31, 2023. Decision means reviewing an application, which is then approved, denied or marked as incomplete. Citizenship target means that 300000 candidates must take the oath of citizenship either personally or virtually during the said period.
The target is significantly high, compared to the fiscal year 2021-2022. It is even higher compared to the pre-pandemic period targets of 2019-2020, which was 253000.
During the 2021-2022 period, IRCC welcomed 217000 new citizens. In the current fiscal year, Canada has welcomed 116000 new citizens, which indicates it is well on track to hit the target. During the same period in 2021, Canada had only 35000 new citizens.
Digitizing the application process for Canada citizenship
In March 2020, it became impossible for the IRCC to process applications for citizenship, owing to the restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The main reason was the delay caused by paper applications. Besides, all in-person events including interviews were cancelled. So the IRCC was unable to conduct interviews and oath swearing ceremonies could not be conducting.
This led to Canada making the entire citizenship application process digital for some applicants, starting from November 2020. Now this has been expanded to include all applicants above the age of 18. This has helped the new applicants much. But a backlog of paper applications is still remaining.
The IRCC recommends continuing with its current system of first-in-first-out. So the IRCC will be focusing on clearing the backlog of paper applications, at the same time prioritizing a small number of digital applications in order to prevent the backlog growing.
Currently, the processing times of Canadian citizenship stands at 27 months. The memo says this is expected, owing to the increased online applications, besides already existing backlog of paper applications.
However, the IRCC has already taken steps to clear the backlog and assured that, the processing of 80% of all new applications will be completed within service standards. For this purpose, 1000 new staff have been hired. Canada is also planning to expand access to the citizenship application status tracker to representatives. In addition, minors under the age of 18 will be able to apply online for citizenship by the end of the current year.
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