Federal Skilled Worker Processing Times: First in Last Out

By Author: Admin | January 18, 2012

There are over a million applicants for permanent residence awaiting assessment by Canada’s Immigration Department.
The current skilled worker system is characterized by two sets of processing times: Applications received BEFORE February 27, 2008, as well as Applications received BETWEEN November 28, 2008 and June 25, 2010. The latter category coincides with the re-implementation of a narrow occupation list (the concept of which had been abandoned in the mid 1990s).

One can see that the cases filed earlier are characterized by significantly lengthier processing times than the more recent cases. This is counterintuitive, given the assumption that earlier-filed cases would be assessed prior to cases subsequently filed. Why would the immigration department process older cases after earlier ones, (i.e. putting older cases at the back of the line)? One reason is that those older cases are as a whole, characterized by more broader skill sets, outside the skills set out in the occupation list that re-appeared in November 2008. The assumption of the immigration department is that the post November 2008 applications shall be more in line with Canada’s economic needs.

However, even under the faster post November 2008 cases, the processing times at the larger visa offices are typically 18 months or more for the majority of cases. Given the profound instability of the world economy, it is arguable that there shall be no difference between the economic benefits that may accrue to the Canadian economy from processing the earlier-filed applications at the same speed; both sets of immigration applicants shall likely be just as relevant to the Canadian economy.

Immigration department bureaucrats are no doubt aware of the above, which leads to the question of why current immigration processing times are biased in favour of the post-November 2008 cases. The reason is largely bureaucratic efficiency. The immigration department dislikes having parallel method of assessment due to the increased training costs, as well as the increased chances of errors. Similarly, the pre-November 2008 cases are characterized by more work for visa officers who have to rely on their own judgement for the assessment of English and French language skills; the post-november 2008 cases are required to have proof of third-party English language testing such as an IELTS.

The immigration department wants the pre-November 2008 applicants to give up their applications. The immigration department does not want the pre-November 2008 applicants to immigrate to Canada. The immigration department has offered to refund the processing fees of those pre-November 2008 applicants as an incentive in this regard.

Those applicants whose cases were filed prior to February 27 2008 include applicants who filed their applications as far back as 2003. The current processing times predict a further 89 months of processing times for many applicants in this category (over seven years more) totalling 18 years of processing – and this would be for straightforward cases, not characterized by higher than average background checks which typically add another 1-3 years of processing time.

The only solution for those motivated to expedite their processing times to a more typical one would be to have the Federal Court of Canada order faster processing via an application for mandamus. Other solutions, such as the one pictured (using a fortune teller for immigration advice) are not recommended.

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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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