Most readers are far too young to identify with the expression “hurry up and wait”. This expression dates back to the 1940’s and was used to describe the non-combat daily lives of infantrymen during World War II. Nowadays, the same expression applies to preparing for the Canadian immigration process.
In the past, candidates for permanent residency, under most Canadian immigration categories, would submit their applications to a Canadian Visa Office and then wait for a decision, positive or negative, on their file. The law required that every application be assessed and that, in itself, became a big problem for everyone concerned. Processing delays got longer and longer while the backlog of unprocessed applications in all categories grew to almost one million. The end result was that an applicant in the Federal Skilled Worker category, for example, could wait the better part of ten years for a decision on an application.
A few years back, the Canadian government finally decided to deal with this untenable situation, once and for all. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) significantly reduced the intake of fresh applications and mercilessly terminated the applications of almost 300,000 individuals, who had been waiting patiently for their files to be assessed. The desired result of backlog reduction has been achieved and by the end of this year it is expected there will no longer be an inventory of Federal Skilled Worker applications to process.
CIC is determined to never again face a significant backlog of unprocessed applications. To ensure this, CIC now places strict limits/caps on the number of applications that can be received for assessment in most categories of Canadian immigration. Current examples of this relatively new restrictive policy include:
- On May 4th, 2013, CIC began accepting applications under the Federal Skilled Worker category. A total of 5,000 applications will be accepted for assessment. Candidates must score 67 points on a selection grid and have at least one year of experience in at least one of 24 eligible occupations. No more than 300 applications will be accepted for assessment in each eligible occupation.
- On January 2nd, 2014, CIC will again begin accepting sponsorship applications from Canadian citizens and permanent residents on behalf of their parents and/or grandparents. Only 5,000 applications will be accepted for assessment. There are likely about one million Canadian families that would qualify for the opportunity.
- On August 1, 2013 the Quebec Immigrant Investor Category is rumoured to begin accepting applications again. The number of applications that will be accepted for assessment will likely be less than 2000. The last time that a Canadian immigration program for investors was available, it filled within one day.
So, with caps and limits now permanent fixtures of the Canadian immigration landscape, what is the best strategy to follow for an individual who wants a Canadian Permanent Resident visa? Waiting for a particular program to officially open before beginning the preparation of an application may not be the best course of action. For one thing, there are more than 60 Canadian immigration programs to keep track of.
Perhaps more importantly, when an immigration program opens, it will likely be for a relatively short time and there will be many applicants scrambling to put their documents together and attempting to squeeze through the same narrow doorway. The best advice is to have as much of the application prepared in advance in anticipation of the door opening.
Applicants who choose to prepare in advance do run the risk of being ineligible when a particular program opens. However, for many the risk is well worth the potential reward. So we have the phenomenon of applicants working hard to prepare an application, and then having to wait weeks or months until it can even be submitted.
And this brings us back to the military expression, “hurry up and wait”.