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e-3994 (Citizenship and immigration)

Initiated by Hassan Murad from Brampton, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

  • Applicants for many processes and documents at IRCC, including citizenship applications and PR cards, face prolonged delays in processing;
  • Eligible applicants who applied for Canadian citizenship in 2019-20 are still waiting for their applications to be processed, leaving them and their friends and relatives affected by the delays;
  • Many have received no response or details from IRCC on the status of their application or expected timelines, which prevents them from being able to plan important and critical life decisions;
  • Many applicants who are facing long delays in processing are missing out on opportunities, despite being eligible and having applied for citizenship, because their application is in process for two or more years; and
  • Many applicants have missed or are missing important family events, because they are at some stage of citizenship application and the email for the next step can come any time.
We, the undersigned, applicants waiting on citizenship application or their friends and relatives affected by the delays, call upon the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to:
1. Increase staffing and resources at IRCC in order to address the backlog of outstanding applications for citizenship that were submitted in 2019 and 2020;
2. Provide clear status and concise expected timelines to applicants so that they can make decisions and plans accordingly, in order to address the ambiguity of getting an email for test or oath ceremony at any time; and
3. In case of unreasonable delay, have IRCC provide the reason to the applicant, clear steps to mitigate the delay and ensure that the applicants' PR card can be received promptly in order to ensure that they have a valid travel and identification document.

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Marie-France Lalonde, M.P.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of all client-facing services and activities at IRCC, including all Citizenship services such as in-person knowledge tests, interviews, and oath ceremonies. This resulted in a significant increase in inventory of Citizenship applications and an increase in processing times.

In response, the Department took action to modernize its Citizenship services. Virtual processing tools were developed, including the first virtual oath ceremony on April 1, 2020. The online citizenship test launched in November 2020, followed by the electronic applications for grants in December 2020, and proof of citizenship and search of records in November 2021. An online application status tracker was implemented in May 2021, helping clients to stay updated on their files and an electronic certificates pilot has been recently launched, further digitizing the process.

IRCC has allocated funding received under the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update to help reduce the Citizenship inventory and process applications in a timely manner. A portion of this funding is being dedicated to increased staffing, with approximately 65 employees being added to address these pressures in the Citizenship Program.

With the additional funding, new digital tools, and the reduction of some processing steps, IRCC is processing more applications and moving people through the system faster. IRCC exceeded its Citizenship goals for fiscal year 2021-2022, with over 217,000 new Canadian citizens.

From the launch of IRCC’s new online testing platform on November 26, 2020, to April 30, 2022, almost 310,000 people have taken their test virtually, exceeding pre-COVID-19 testing rates. Likewise, between April 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, more than 246,000 applicants attended video oath ceremonies, which is also exceeding pre-COVID-19 volumes.

Clients applying to become a Canadian citizen must be permanent residents and have been physically present in Canada 1,095 days within the 5 years preceding the application. Therefore, eligible Citizenship applicants have a Permanent Resident (PR) card, as well as the right to enter Canada.

IRCC has also allocated funding received under the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update to help reduce the PR card application inventory of 95K applications and aim to adhere to the agreed service standard of 60 days. A new PR portal’s Permanent Resident (PR) Card/ Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) functionality was launched on June 14, 2022, allowing clients to apply for PR card renewal and PRTD online.

The average processing time for 80% of all PR Card renewal applications processed in May and June 2022 was 60 days. This is a significant decrease from the processing time of 135 days seen in November 2021. Some non-routine cases may be referred to local offices for further review, extending the processing time.

An urgent processing policy exists for existing permanent residents who require their cards for imminent travel for reasons of work, death in the family or medical reasons. These cards are generally issued within 15 business days.

Open for signature
May 5, 2022, at 4:18 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 4, 2022, at 4:18 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)
June 13, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00557)
Government response tabled
September 20, 2022
Photo - Jenny Kwan
Vancouver East
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia