Reducing Backlogs to Achieve a Fast and Flexible Immigration System

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Ottawa, September 17, 2012 —The Government of Canada welcomed the findings of a report on immigration backlogs by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and tabled its response in Parliament today.

“I think we can all agree that backlogs are unfair to applicants, harmful to Canada’s ability to attract the best and brightest from around the world, and hold back economic and job growth,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “I thank the Standing Committee members for their hard work in compiling their report.”

The Committee commented favourably on what the Government has already achieved to date through the Action Plan for Faster Immigration and the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification. However, the Committee report also made clear that more needs to be done in order to better align application intake with admission levels.

The committee report recognizes that backlogs have occurred because for too long Canada has accepted more applications than it can process and admit in a given year.  Over time, this annual surplus of applications resulted in a backlog of more than a million applicants, and processing delays of eight to ten years in some immigration categories. The report concluded that, in order to avoid future backlogs, it is critical that the Government act to ensure that the annual number of applications better align with the number of admissions.  The report also recommended exploring further options to deal with the problem of existing backlogs, particularly in the federal skilled worker, immigrant investor, and parent and grandparent classes.

The Government agrees with all of the Standing Committee’s report recommendations and has already acted quickly to tackle application backlogs in key areas. Successes include:

  • Reducing the pre-2008 Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) backlog by more than 50 percent by 2011 – two years earlier than expected – through the 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration and successive Ministerial Instructions limiting application intake.  Most recently, Economic Action Plan 2012 removed around 280,000 applicants from that FSW backlog, which paves the way for a faster and more flexible economic immigration system;
  • Managing intake of the Immigrant Investor Program applications starting in July 2011.  Most recently, a temporary pause on new applications was introduced on July 1, 2012 to allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to focus on processing existing applications and reviewing the program’s effectiveness;
  • Significantly decreasing the backlog of applications for parents and grandparents since fall 2011, as a result of increased admission targets and a two-year pause on new applications under the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.  At the same time, CIC introduced a new “Super Visa,” which allows for visits of up to two years by parents and grandparents, and has proven to be a popular alternative for applicants.

In the last year, the Government has also launched public online consultations on re-designing the parent and grandparent program, and reforming the Immigrant Investor Program.  Policy work on reformed programs is now underway.

“The economy and job growth remain the Government’s number one priority,” said Minister Kenney. “We continue to take the issue of immigration backlogs very seriously, and we will be doing even more in the future to transform our immigration system into one that is fast, fair, flexible, and serves the interests of Canada’s long-term prosperity.”

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration tabled its report, entitled “Cutting the Queue: Reducing Canada’s Immigration Backlogs and Wait Times,” in March 2012.

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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