Aayush Manott is an MBA graduate and runs his own family business — his degree and work experience make him an ideal candidate for the Canadian labour market.
He and his family applied to the skilled immigration workers program last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed his file under processing at the Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Canada’s skilled worker program, introduced in 1967, was the first in the world to recruit the best and brightest immigrants as permanent residents by rewarding points to candidates based on their age, language proficiency, education achievements and job experience.
Despite updates through the years, it has been a signature economic immigration program that brings in people based on their general skills, knowledge, and experience to fill Canada’s labour market needs.
According to January’s internal memo by the Canadian immigration department, the wait time to clear the files for this program could increase to 36 months from 20 months with the number of files lodged.
Travel restrictions and lockdowns affected visa and foreign government offices, the IRCC said, and that they are struggling to process applications in a timely manner while new applications keep arriving.
Manott is frustrated and feels it could take another 12 months for his file to work its way through IRCC.
Chirag Ahir, a computer engineer who applied to the federal high skilled workers program, said he is now weighing other options rather than investing time and money in his Canadian dream.
“Considering the wait time, I am re-considering my decision,” he said.
Experts feel Ottawa must clear these backlogs before accepting any new applications for the program.
“They must do more to speed up the process and clear the backlogs as people have been waiting for more than one year,” said Indian-based immigration agent Aman Ansari.
Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser said he understands the applicants’ frustration, and IRCC is trying its best to address those concerns and has introduced concrete measures to clear the backlogs.
The minister believes immigration benefits all Canadians to strengthen the community and bring economic prosperity.
“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals,” Fraser said. “Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority for me.”
IRCC further stressed that invitations to apply for these streams would resume once the processing inventory was reduced enough to ensure that the new intake could be processed within the six-month standard service time.
Aayush and Chirag are among the thousands of skilled immigration applicants overseas whose lives and plans are in limbo, as Canada has halted its federal skilled immigration program to prioritize applicants already in Canada.
“I understand the pandemic has disrupted many lives and systems,” Aayush said. “All I ask is to prioritize and clear the backlogs so that we can fulfill our Canadian dream.”