OTTAWA - Even as Canadian officials hack away at a backlog of immigration applications, their workload is increasing.
Documents obtained by QMI Agency show Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials have raised the goal for approving overseas immigration visas this year to more than 255,000 — an increase of 17% from 2011.
The biggest growth will be in family visas — parents and grandparents — the number of which is expected to more than triple to 36,500 in 2012.
However, officials say the actual number of people who come to Canada will be lower because not everyone who receives a visa actually uses it.
So, about 25,000 parents and grandparents are expected to arrive in Canada through the year, matching a number announced by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney last November.
Last fall, Kenney also froze applications from parents and grandparents for two years while officials try to deal with a backlog of 165,000 applicants, some waiting for up to seven years for an answer.
Officials are also targeting a slight increase in skilled worker immigrants, while the number of business immigrants is set to decrease.
The Commons immigration committee released a new report Tuesday that makes several recommendations, including a limit on the number of applications to help reduce backlogs.
"There needs to be a cap on the application process," said Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary to the immigration minister, without recommending a specific number.
NDP immigration critic Don Davies says instead, Canada should just approve more applications, noting approvals hit a high of 280,000 in 2010.
"We have suggested that we build on that 280,000 visas in 2010 and go up, perhaps 10,000 a year over the next three or four years," Davies said.