Canadian immigrants are facing a hard time right now. Due to the global pandemic, many immigrants with expired Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) are unsure and uncertain about their future in Canada.
Canada closed its borders to international travelers on March 20, 2020. Now, after 16 months, many who received their COPR during that time have expired immigration visas. The worst part still is the lack of proper response from the Canadian government.
Many complained about receiving automated email responses from the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) telling them to wait for the IRCC to contact them.
How Did Covid-19 Affect the Canadian Immigration System?
The pandemic significantly affected the processing times for all Canadian immigration visa categories. From Family Sponsorship programs to economic immigration streams, they are all facing backlogs. Now, as Canada reopens its borders to international travelers, many immigrants who were unable to come to Canada are struggling for clarity while the IRCC continues to process all applications.
The IRCC is struggling to digitize its case management and processing system. When Canada first closed their borders and implemented social restrictions, the immigration system came to a halt. This left the government scrambling to create an online platform and to provide laptops so employees can work from home.
As of July, the backlog of permanent residence applications increased by 70% to 375,137 since February 2020. The current backlog of temporary residence applications is at 702,660. Even citizenship applications are struggling with a backlog of 369,677 from 208,069 in February.
Due to international border closures, the IRCC shifted its focus on the huge pool of foreign workers and graduates to meet the set immigration levels target. The IRCC introduced temporary public policies to help international graduates and foreign workers.
Despite this, Canadian Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino has faced widespread criticism by immigrants due to the mounting backlogs. While the IRCC is succeeding in gradually shifting most of their operations online, they still need to come up with a clear plan for priorities to manage immigrant arrival.
What Can the IRCC Do to Clear the Resulting Backlogs?
Recently, the Canadian government announced the reopening of the border for fully vaccinated United States citizens and Green Card holders for non-essential travel from September 7, 2021.
According to immigration experts, the government needs to start bringing in immigrants who received their COPRs. Since the backlogs have worsened over time, now is the time to provide clear criteria for prioritization.
The foremost priority must be processing people who have already been approved for permanent residence as they have put their lives on hold since they need to resettle here. Many immigrants quit their jobs after receiving their COPRs. However, they were unable to come to Canada until now due to domestic and international travel restrictions.
Even now, there is no set timeline, which means they need to wait further before they can come to Canada. In late June, Canada opened its borders for immigrants with valid COPRs. Still, immigrants with expired COPRs are being told to wait for immigration officials to contact them.
How the Flight Ban from India Is Affecting Immigration Recovery?
Another hurdle faced by the IRCC is the current ban on direct flights from India. India is the top-most source country for immigrants to Canada. This ban was implemented in April this year to avoid the risk of spreading the Delta Variant in Canada. This ban means that Indian immigrants have to do extra travel planning to arrive in Canada.