This is just a rumor that they are processing 23rd August applications. Even if they are, this is not what 'Processing Phase" is. Processing phase starts in Visa Office. Only visa office can give answer to this question.
Well 2 seperate people on the May thread said they phoned CIC - one said they told him 23rd August and the other said they told him 24th August. So whereas it is technically a rumour, it is a fairly credible one unless you think both of these members were lying!http://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/may-2010-applicants-t40510.3075.html
"I called CIC now (Dubai time 10.30 pm) and the reply from them was weired.
I gave my surname, name & date of birth. He is saying no record for this data. Secondly they have completed all the May Applications and currently working on 23rd Aug-10.."
"i just called cic .. here goes the update:
They are currently processing august applications ..24th and i should have received my AOR by now (as per cio) .. so she opened a case specific status update request and kept my phone numbers ... and told me someone will get in touch with me in 30 days with my file number ... she kept my name, date of birth, application submission date and phone numbers ... submitted formal case update request .."
So IMO I think many of the eligibility reviews have been done for July/Aug - however I think they may possibly be holding back the AORs until the 20,000 cap is reached. Just my thoughts/guesses.
Regarding your thoughts and what is "in process". Yes "in process" means visa office are performing all the background checks, and it is true that only visa office can make a final decision on granting a visa.
However, I think what the posters meant by processing in this case was the CIC eligibility review, which is carried out at CIC Sydney, Canada prior to issuing AOR and sending application to visa office.