Canadian work permit
Canada said it would improve its work permit processing times. Source: cole Burston/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Canada’s immigration minister said that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would use its 85 Canadian million dollar budget to expedite the processing of Canadian work permits that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

According to CIC News, Sean Fraser previously announced that service standards for work permits, study permits, proof of citizenship, and permanent residence card renewals would return to normal by the end of 2022.

Due to COVID-19, IRCC said on their website that they could not process applications normally nor give accurate processing times for most applications.

Despite the cash injection, IRCC Assistant Deputy Minister Daniel Mills was quoted saying that the CA$85 million budget will not improve processing times for permanent residents, but it will allow IRCC to develop tools such as electronic application systems and online application trackers. 

The standard processing time for Canadian work permits submitted outside of Canada is 60 days. International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits take 56 days, while work permit extensions submitted in Canada typically takes 120 days. Before the pandemic, IRCC met these standards more than 87% of the time, said CIC News.

Canadian work permit

Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

Will the delay in Canadian work permits affect international students?

According to IRCC, the country currently has a massive backlog of 1.8 million immigration applications, causing months to years of delay for many who are now wary of the limbo over their immigration status. As of Feb. 1, 2022, IRCC has over 85,000 work permit applications in its inventory.

While the strain placed on IRCC’s system isn’t likely to affect the odds of getting a study permit to study in the country, it could pose a significant problem for graduates wishing to stay in Canada. Those with post-graduation work permits (PGWP) that are expiring soon could lose their right to work, unless they acquire a new Canadian work permit or permanent residency status. 

Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser assured that he has his “full attention” devoted to addressing the backlogs and creating a more “nimble” system, in a separate announcement to the Toronto Star.

Despite that, there are some Canadian work permits that have expedited processes for workers in certain sectors. The Global Talent Stream — which allows Canadian employers to expedite the hiring of highly skilled foreign talent when Canadians aren’t available for specific roles — has a processing standard of 10 business days, said CIC News. 

On Feb. 14, 2022, the government announced a new strategy under the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-24 to admit 431,645 permanent residents this year. Critics have cautioned the government to exercise prudence in setting such an ambitious target when millions are still uncertain about their immigration status.