The memo shows the citizenship target for 2022 and makes recommendations on the processing of applications.
citizens to be welcomed by Canada for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
The memorandum prepared by the Operations, Planning and Demonstration Division of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to a senior official recommends that the IRCC process a total of 285,000 decisions and 300,000 new citizens by March 31, 2023. A decision is a review of an application which is then marked as approved, rejected or incomplete. The citizenship target means that 300,000 accepted applicants must take the oath of citizenship, either in person or virtually.
This is a significant increase over the 2021-2022 fiscal year and also exceeds the pre-pandemic targets of 2019-20, when 253,000 citizenship applications were processed.
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In 2021-2022, IRCC was successful in welcoming 217,000 new citizens. So far in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Canada has welcomed 116,000 new citizens and is well on track to achieve the target. By comparison, in the same period in 2021, Canada had sworn in only 35,000 people.
The memorandum includes the current challenges involved in processing applications as well as ensuring all positive decisions can be taken within a reasonable time frame.
IRCC moving away from paper applications
In March 2020, IRCC became unable to process most of the applications due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was because the department was only able to process paper applications that were mailed at a central location. Since all individual events were also cancelled, this meant that the IRCC was unable to conduct interviews with candidates and the swearing-in could not take place at citizenship ceremonies.
These hurdles led to a shift towards fully digitizing the citizenship application process for some applicants starting in November 2020. This has expanded to everyone who is over the age of 18. However, it can streamline the process for new applicants. There remains a huge backlog of paper applications.
The memo recommends that IRCC continue with its current system of first-in-first-out for all applications, which means maintaining a focus on older, paper applications, while reducing backlog growth to a smaller number of digital applications. Creating space to prioritize.
In 2021, IRCC had targeted 5,000 digital applications for the financial year out of the targeted 245,000 decisions. As a large number of applications are now digital, the report states that there will be a need to increase the number of digital applications processed for the 2022-2023 financial year.
Processing time more than 20 months
A later report published in May put the processing time at 27 months. This is expected due to the increase in online applications in addition to the backlog of paper applications, the memo says. As of last June, there were 413,000 applications in the grant list.
IRCC says it has taken steps to clear the backlog and process 80% of all new applications within service standards. To do this, more than 1,000 new employees have been hired and there are plans to expand access to the citizenship application status tracker for representatives. Additionally, minors below the age of 18 years will be eligible to apply for citizenship online until the end of the year.