There’s a big new plan to reduce Canadian immigration processing times in 2022. That’s the promise made by Sean Fraser, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, in a press conference on January 31, 2022. Minister Fraser announced a range of new measures to help reduce processing times for many of Canada’s most popular immigration programs. 

The new plan to reduce immigration processing times includes the ambitious target of processing 147,000 applications for permanent residence before the end of March. This would significantly reduce backlogs across a range of immigration programs, including Express Entry, which has been experiencing significant backlogs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work permit and study permit applicants can celebrate Minister Fraser’s promise to get these temporary residence applications back to IRCC’s processing standards by the end of 2022, if not sooner. Processing times for visitor visa applicants will also be reduced in 2022. 

If you want specific details about how the new plan will impact processing times for a specific program, you can jump to one of these sections below:

How will Canada reduce immigration processing times in 2022?

In order to reduce Canadian immigration processing times in 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be leveraging $85 million of new funding provided to the department in the Economic and Fiscal Update 2021. The increased financial support will enable the department to beef up resources to meet the ambitious targets outlined above. 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has struggled to keep up with demand for immigration applications. This is partially due to work-from-home directives creating challenges for immigration officers. The issue has been exacerbated by an increased demand on the immigration system caused by Canada’s introduction of new measures to welcome in-Canada immigration applicants in 2021. 

With the new funding, IRCC will be able to allocate additional resources to help reduce processing times across many different programs. IRCC has already hired approximately 500 new processing staff and reallocated work among offices around the world.

Another important part of the big new plan to reduce Canadian immigration processing times is the expansion of digital functionalities for immigration applicants and IRCC staff who process applications. Specifically, Canada will be introducing the following measures:

  • Expansion of the use of data analytics to process visitor visas faster: Data analytics have already been used for years in the processing of temporary residence visas and have resulted in an 87 percent increase in processing times. This will be expanded to more visitor visa applications in 2022. 
  • The new digital permanent residence application portal will be expanded: IRCC plans to have the new digital portal accept 100 percent of PR applications by summer. The PR application portal is a digital intake system which will soon replace the need for paper-based PR applications and provide more efficient processing.
  • A new PR case tracker tool will allow applicants to track progress: The new tracker will allow applicants to more closely monitor the progress of their PR applications processing. This should reduce the number of enquiries submitted to IRCC to request updates. The PR case tracker will be first introduced for family sponsorship applicants in February.
  • IRCC will update its “Check processing times” tool to make listings more accurate: Since the onset of the pandemic, the processing times listed on IRCC’s “Check processing times” tool have been notoriously inaccurate. The department aims to update the website to reflect accurate processing times by the end of 2022.

For specifics about how processing times for your immigration program may be impacted, refer to our program-specific updates below. 

Are you planning to travel to Canada? Make sure you have proper health insurance coverage for your stay. Explore your health insurance options with our partner, Cigna. Get started today with a free quote!

Express Entry: Processing times for 2022

In his January 31 press conference, Minister Fraser indicated that Canada is making strides to tackle a backlog of permanent residence applications. He expects 147,000 permanent residence applications to be processed within the first three months of 2022. This would be double the number of applications processed during the same window in 2021.

However, Minister Fraser did not specify how many of these applications would be coming from Express Entry

In fact, during the press conference, Minister Fraser provided little information about Canada’s plans for Express Entry applicants in 2022. He did confirm that Express Entry draws for Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates remain paused — temporarily — while the department deals with a backlog of 548,195 PR applications, as of last October.

An IRCC memo from November 2021 suggests that Express Entry processing times for FSW candidates could climb to 36 months in 2022. CEC applications are currently processed in an average of 7.6 months — much closer to IRCC’s processing standard of processing 80 percent of applications within six months or less. 

If IRCC does manage to process the high volume of PR applications Minister Fraser outlined while also introducing a range of improved digital functionalities, the outlook for Express Entry applicants will likely improve. Unfortunately, it seems this improvement won’t be felt for at least another few months while IRCC continues to play catch up.

Family Sponsorship: Processing times for 2022

As of January 2022, applications for spousal sponsorship are meeting IRCC’s processing standard of processing 80 percent of applications within 12 months of submission.

This means that at least 80 percent of spouse, common-law, and dependent children sponsorship applicants who wish to apply for permanent residence this year can expect to have their applications processed within a 12 months or less.

Parent and grandparent sponsorship applications were not mentioned in Minister Fraser’s update. The most recent processing times listed on the IRCC website for PGP applicants indicates 20-24 months for processing, although this may be updated later in 2022.

One notable update for family class applicants is the introduction of a new PR case tracker. Expected to launch in February, the new PR case tracker will enable these applicants to track the progress of their application through IRCC’s system. It will initially be available to family reunification applications submitted by spouses, common-law partners, and dependents, but is expected to expand to include more applicants later.

Work Permits: Processing times for 2022

By the end of 2022, Canada aims to reduce processing times for work permit applicants in order to meet IRCC’s processing standards.

IRCC’s processing standard is to process at least 80 percent of work permit applications submitted outside Canada within 60 days or less. For International Experience Canada (IEC) applicants, the processing standard is to process 100 percent of applications in 56 days or less.

For work permit extensions submitted by applicants inside Canada, IRCC aims to process 80 percent of applications within 120 days of submission.

Minister Fraser made it clear that the efficient processing of work permit applications is essential to Canada’s continued economic growth. This is especially true in 2022 as Canada faces a labour shortage despite the fact that more people are currently working in Canada than before the pandemic. 

Study Permits: Processing times for 2022

By the end of 2022 or sooner, Canada aims to reduce study permit processing times to meet IRCC’s processing standards.

For study permit applications submitted outside Canada, IRCC’s processing standard is to process at least 80 percent of applications within 60 days. For study permit applications submitted inside Canada, the standard application processing window is 120 days.

In 2021, Canada processed nearly 560,000 study permit applications. This was a 32 percent increase from 2019, as Canada continues to be a top destination for international students from around the world. 

Canadian citizenship applications: Processing times for 2022

Throughout 2022, IRCC will work toward scheduling the Oath of Citizenship Ceremonies within four months of an applicant’s final decision.

Canada is taking action to reduce the inventory of 60,000 applicants who are currently awaiting their Oath of Citizenship Ceremony. These are applicants who have completed all citizenship requirements except the Oath. 

To address this backlog, Canada will expand the use of virtual Citizenship Ceremonies and is exploring an option for individuals who wish to self-administer their own Oath of Citizenship. 

PR Card Renewals: Processing times for 2022

Canada expects to completely clear its backlog of PR card renewal applications and return to its processing standard by the end of 2022. 

Unfortunately, IRCC does not state its processing standard for PR card renewals on its website. However, the processing standard for initial PR card applications is to have 80 percent of applications processed within 60 days from application (at a port of entry or in-land office).

The most recent processing times listed on the IRCC website for PR card renewals indicates 120 days for processing, although this may be updated later in 2022.

Visitor visas: Processing times for 2022

Canada aims to reduce the processing time for visitor visa applications in 2022, although an exact target has not been defined. 

IRCC’s processing standard is to process 80 percent of visitor visa applications submitted from outside Canada within 14 days of receipt. This standard is not being met at this time.

Minister Fraser announced that IRCC will expand the use of advanced data analytics to help officers more efficiently sort and process visitor visa applications submitted from outside Canada. The data analytics system has been used in a limited capacity for several years now. During that time, it has been shown that using advanced data analytics can increase processing times by 87 percent. 

IRCC noted that even when data analytics are used in application processing, a final decision on each application will always be made by an IRCC immigration officer.

Are you planning to travel to Canada? Make sure you have proper health insurance coverage for your stay. Explore your health insurance options with our partner, Cigna. Get started today with a free quote!

For the latest updates on Express Entry and Canada’s immigration priorities, create a free Moving2Canada account and subscribe to our newsletter!