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Revisiting Impact of COVID-19 on Application Processing

As an update to our earlier post regarding the impact of COVID-19 on immigration dated March 25th, 2020, we would like to revisit this topic now, and to provide the most current information relating to visa processing, permanent residence processing and citizenship processing.

At present, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is not processing applications normally. Due to limited staff and volume built up over the past couple of months, processing times are no longer accurate and are getting longer as the pandemic goes on.

Canada welcomed 341,000 permanent residents in 2019 and was set to usher in another 370,000 this year, but that number is forecast to be down by as many as 170,000, according to a RBC report recently released. The first-quarter immigration data on arrivals all indicated drastic decreases in the number of permanent residents, migrant workers and international students. This comes as no surprise granted the travel bans, processing delays and landing interviews being postponed.

The travel ban on non-essential travel between Canada and USA is currently set to expire on June 21, 2020, but could be extended. The travel ban on international travel to Canada (including non-essential travel) is set to expire on June 31, 2020 but could be extended also. As such, by the end of the current month, international travel could be reinstated along with the continued processing of temporary residence visas including student visas, work permits and visitor visas.

The delay in processing times is also caused, in part, due to closures of international visa offices which handle biometrics collection and passport collection for online applications. Even inside Canada applicants have faced office closures that limited their ability to fulfill biometrics enrolment, pass medical exams and obtain other services such as photos. There is no official word on when international VACs or Service Canada offices are set to resume normal operations.

The case remains that certain occupations are priority in