Permanent Residency application backlog

Wednesday, December 18, 2013    

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Dear Mr Brown,

I applied for Canadian permanent residency several years ago and I have not received any feedback regarding my application since 2011. Why does it take so long? I read online about the system having a backlog. However, I thought they already addressed the backlog issue under the Federal Skilled Worker programme by cancelling the unprocessed applications submitted before 2008. How long can we continue to expect these long wait times? Is there anything that you can do to help me?


Hello GPW,

I am always available to assist those who require assistance. I think the backlog issue with the Federal Skilled Worker programme has been discussed over the years and you seem to be somewhat familiar with the measures that were taken to clear the backlog. Historically, the Canadian Immigration system has been characterised by the passive acceptance of immigration applications. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is obliged to process all applications it receives to accept or reject applicants. The problem is that CIC receives far more applications than can be accommodated each year. Long wait times for applicants and large application backlogs in some immigration categories have resulted, with limited ability, to ensure alignment to Canada's economic needs.

Anecdotally, I have also observed that many individuals who have migrated under the Federal Skilled Worker system find it more difficult to integrate in Canada initially because of limited Canadian experience in terms of education, qualifications or credentials and work.

Expression of Interest System

It is expected that by January 2015, Canada will become more active in the selection process through the Expression of Interest System (EOI). The EOI is a modernised and efficient application management process in which the best and the brightest newcomers from around the world will be invited to settle in Canada. EOI will select immigrants based on employment skills and experience that Canadian employers need, which will lead to better integration of new immigrants.

The EOI will have two stages, which include:

1 Canadian employers selecting required workers from a pre-screened pool of aspiring immigrants; and

2 CIC processing their permanent residence applications.

At Stage 1, prospective immigrants submit a form to indicate their interest in migrating to Canada. Individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria will have their expressions of interest placed in a pool and ranked against others in the pool.

At Stage 2, candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence. The Invitation would be based on either direct selection by a Canadian employer or achieving a certain rank or a combination thereof.


Applicants will be required to provide information, such as:

* English or French language proficiency.

* Educational assessment of credentials.

* Level of education.

* Occupation.

* Years of work experience in Canada and outside Canada.

* Age.

* Measures of adaptability.

An overall score will be generated by the EOI system based on the information provided by the applicant to determine the minimum requirements to enter the EOI pool and to rank and sort EOI prospective applicants. A job offer, and/or a willingness to settle in a particular region will be relevant.

Less backlog

Under such a system, there would not be an obligation to review all applications in the order received. Instead, candidates would be identified on the basis of relevant qualifications and experience. Not all candidates who file an expression of interest will be invited to apply for a permanent resident visa.

The ranking criteria factors are likely to fluctuate frequently based on the identified needs of employers, and the federal and provincial governments of Canada. There would be a timeline for a candidate to file a complete application for permanent residence. Expressions of interest that are not chosen after a period of time may be removed from the pool. As a result, application backlogs would not accumulate and processing times will be kept to a minimum.

Candidates must meet a minimum threshold of points for their expression of interest to be eligible for selection out of the EOI pool. The expressions of interest may also be sorted based on occupation or desired destination in Canada. In other words, the system can more readily reflect the needs identified by employers or CIC. The needs of the Canadian labour market will be paramount.


From the perspective of CIC, key objectives of the EOI are:

* Improved application management.

* The ability to move to the active selection of candidates, rather than responding to which applicant applied first.

* Greater responsiveness to the needs of the Canadian labour market; and

* A system in which immigrants are better suited to integrate in Canada.

From the perspective of Canadian employers, the benefits include:

* Faster and more efficient processing of skilled foreign nationals; and

* Potential access to a pool of prospective candidates.

From the perspective of successful applicants, the average processing times would be in months rather than years.

For further information visit

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to





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