Ottawa, Oct 19: Canada aims to grant citizenship to 300,000 people in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, a move likely to benefit many Indians.
The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) memo recommends that it process a total of 285,000 decisions and 300,000 new citizens by March 31, 2023.
A decision means a review of an application which is then approved, denied, or marked as incomplete.
The citizenship target means that 300,000 approved applicants must take the oath of citizenship, which would be either in person or virtually.
IRCC also said that minors under the age of 18 will be eligible to apply for citizenship online by the end of the year.
This is a significant increase over the 2021-2022 fiscal year and even exceeds the pre-pandemic targets of 2019-2020, when 253,000 citizenship applications were processed.
In March 2020, IRCC became unable to process most applications due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was because the department was only able to process paper applications that were mailed to a central location.
IRCC was unable to conduct interviews with candidates and there could not be any oath swearing at citizenship ceremonies.
So far in the 2022-2023 fiscal, Canada has welcomed 116,000 new citizens and is on track to achieve its target. By comparison, over the same period in 2021, the country had only sworn in 35,000 people.
Though there is no country-wise break-up of the numbers, Indians are the top immigrant group to take up residence in Canada in 2022.
According to the country’s 2016 reports, Canada has some 1.4 million people of Indian descent.
In 2021, nearly 100,000 Indians moved to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and some 130,000 got work permits under the International Mobility Program.
During 2021-2022, over 210,000 permanent residents also acquired Canadian citizenship.
As per figures released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), it also issued 450,000 study permit applications. There are over 622,000 foreign students in Canada, with Indians numbering 217,410 as of December 31, 2021.
Given the fact that Canada continues to have labour shortages one can expect high levels of Indians moving to Canada to work and study over the coming years.
With a rise in the number of online applications, in addition to the backlog of paper applications, IRCC is taking steps to clear the backlog and processing 80% of all new applications within service standards.
To do this, over 1,000 new staff have been hired and there are plans to expand access to the citizenship application status tracker to representatives.
Canada’s immigration backlog remains at 2.6 million people according to fresh IRCC data.
In June this year, Indians accounted for over a quarter of 2.4 million pending cases, at approximately 700,000.