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Over the past few years, the Government of Canada has expressed its intention to bring immigration processing times down to approximately 12 months or less. Recently, it appears as though the government has begun to deliver on its promises.
According to Attorney David Cohen, of the Canadian immigration law firm Campbell Cohen, some clients who applied to the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program in summer 2013 are now receiving passport requests. A passport request is the final step in the process of obtaining Canadian Permanent Residency.
“It is exciting to see that processing times are beginning to decrease to under a year,” said Attorney Cohen. “Shortening the timeframe for application processing means that Canada gets the workers it needs in a timely fashion, and applicants are assessed within a reasonable timeframe that allows them to plan for their futures.”
The Politics of Processing Times
In years past, the government was facing a large backlog of applications for a number of programs, most notably the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). These backlogs, along with a number of other factors, resulted in increasing wait times for applicants.
Long wait times presented a problem for both Canada and the applicants waiting to be assessed. Without the ability to quickly issue permanent residence to desirable candidates, Canada faced the possibility of becoming less competitive in the global contest for the best immigrants. Applicants, on the other hand, were made to wait in a state of uncertainty for long periods of time.
Solving the problem required program reforms on many levels. These reforms included the controversial decision to do away with some backlogged applications, the consolidation of some processing centers into the newly created Ottawa Case Processing Center, and the creation of new programs with faster processing times, such as the Canadian Experience Class.
What This Means for Applicants
According to Attorney Cohen, a reduction of processing times can mean only good news for applicants.
“In short, the faster an application is processed, the faster that applicant will see their immigration goals materialize,” said Attorney Cohen. “Hopefully, the promising timelines that my firm has been experiencing with the Federal Skilled Worker Program will continue, and expand to other immigration programs in the near future.”
Speedy processing times are optimal for a number of reasons. For example, immigration programs and program requirements can change regularly. A processing time of one year or less helps to ensure that applicants who submit under a certain set of regulations will be assessed before those regulations change. In addition, shorter and more predictable immigration timelines allow applicants to more effectively plan for their future settlement in Canada, for instance by contacting employers and looking for housing.
The Canadian government has made significant investments of time and money to bring down processing times. As recent examples from the FSWP have shown, the investments will likely pay off for both Canada and future immigrants.
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