News report | | 24/12/2021 | ±2 minutes reading time

The coronavirus has caused a large backlog in the processing of visa applications at the Canadian Immigration Service. The government has allocated millions to solve the problem.

A backlog of 1.8 million visa applications

Since the global coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19), the Canadian government has great difficulty in processing the huge number of visa applications. The backlog is currently about 1.8 million applications. This includes applications for both permanent residence permits and temporary visas such as work visas and study visas. Since July 2021, the backlog has grown by nearly 350,000 applications. According to Canadaʼs immigration agency, the IRCC, this is largely due to the various measures being taken against coronavirus around the world, such as border closures and lockdowns. There is much less international manpower available to process the many visa applications at the various Canadian embassies and consulates around the world. According to the IRCC, most of these problems are beyond their control.

The Canadian government has therefore decided to invest $85 million to eliminate the backlog. The investment is part of a larger plan to deal with the economic consequences of COVID-19.

Problems for businesses too

The large backlog of visa applications is also causing problems for businesses. It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find suitable personnel. Before the coronavirus pandemic, there was enough foreign manpower available, but since the border closures, specialized workers are increasingly hard to find. The number of vacancies in Canada stood at 1,014,600 in September. Smaller companies, in particular, feel the consequences of this. They are therefore calling on the Canadian government to relax the visa process in order to attract more workers to the country.

In a statement, the government announced its intention to welcome 411,000 immigrants by 2022, the highest annual number in Canadian history. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), this is a good start, but structural changes need to take place to truly solve the problem. The CFIB reports that more than half of small businesses fail to recruit enough workers to run at full capacity.

No backlog with eTA applications

Applying for the digital travel authorization for Canada, the eTA, has largely run smoothly for the time being. Although the systems are sometimes overloaded by the amount of applications, there is no backlog in the eTA procedure. This is largely due to the fact that there is no need for an interview at the embassy or consulate when applying for an eTA for Canada. This is mandatory when applying for a visa. This is one of the reasons why neighbouring countries, the USA, are also struggling with a large backlog of visa applications. There is no need to visit the embassy and the eTA Canada can therefore be applied for completely online. Because of this, the application is also much faster than visa applications. While a visa application can easily take months, the eTA is often approved the same day. Because the process is much simpler, the eTA is also much cheaper than the visa.

However, the eTA is subject to a number of restrictions. For example, one may not be employed by a Canadian company. With an eTA one may stay in Canada for six months per visit.