At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) yesterday, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that with respect to the 38,000 visas for Indians, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) was expecting to process by December, the department will only be able to process 20,000.
He says there are now only five IRCC members are now able to do the on-the-ground work in India that is essential to process applications. IRCC says that as a result, there will be slower:
- overall processing times
- responses to enquiries
- getting visas or passports returned
IRCC now expects there will be approximately 17,500 Indian applications in backlog at the beginning of 2024.
The department aims to process 80% of all applications within service standards. These standards vary depending on the type of application. An application is in backlog when it has not been processed within service standards.
For example, an international student visa from outside of Canada should be processed within 60 days, a family-class sponsorship application should be processed within 12 months and an Express Entry application should be processed within six months.
In-person services temporarily suspended
IRCC says that all in-person services at consulates in India have been temporarily paused until further notice, but they will continue to accept and process applications from India. Certain application requirements will need to be completed locally or on-site in a secure environment.
The pause is due to the reduction in staff caused by the expulsion of 41 Canadian diplomats.
The remaining five IRCC staff in India will focus on work that needs to be done in-country. This includes urgent processing, visa printing, risk assessment and overseeing key partners, including visa application centers, panel physicians and clinics that perform immigration medical exams.
IRCC expects Indian visa application processing to normalize by 2024
Senior IRCC officials say the government is working to return to normal processing for Indian applications by early 2024. The department says the 22 immigration staff who have been pulled from India will resume work in Canada and the Philippines.
In an IRCC statement regarding the reduction in staff, the department notes that the large majority of applications from India are already processed outside the country, with 89% of India’s applications processed through the global network.
Canada and India are currently working through a diplomatic issue surrounding the assassination of a prominent Sikh leader in Surrey, British Columbia last June.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the matter in September and said there is credible intelligence to confirm that agents of the Indian government were involved in the assassination. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphatically refutes this.
Since then, India has temporarily closed its visa processing centers in Canada and later requested that Canada remove 41 of its diplomats from India.