The early results of Canada’s six new permanent residence streams have been surprising for all the right reasons.
At 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today, Canada began to accept applications under a temporary public policy that will allow essential workers and international graduates to become permanent residents. The purpose of the streams is to provide immigration status to an additional 90,000 people already in Canada since they are less impacted by coronavirus disruptions than immigration candidates abroad.
While the streams have been celebrated for reasons such as the federal government trying to accommodate more essential workers, they have also been greeted with skepticism. There is strong demand for the streams which has created fears that the government’s website would crash and the quotas for the streams would be met within hours or even minutes.
Fortunately, such concerns are proving unfounded.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has understandably received criticism during the pandemic for, among other issues, slow application processing, unclear rules, and leaving Confirmation of Permanent Residence holders disappointed.
Their checkered history with operating rush-seating immigration programs is a major reason why some felt the launch of the streams today would be a disaster. Recent such efforts by IRCC have seen their website crash and quotas filled within minutes, leaving tens of thousands of potential applicants angry.
Today, however, appears to be different. While there have been hiccups, such as candidates experiencing technical difficulties getting their payments processed on the IRCC website, the intake process has been running smoothly for the most part.
CIC News has prepared a special FAQ on the immigration streams available here.
IRCC has a counter on its website that shows the number of application submissions in real-time. Candidates are able to submit their applications in an orderly fashion.
The other major surprise so far is that the caps have yet to fill.
The largest pool of candidates fall under the English-speaking international graduate stream. The cap for the stream is 40,000 applications. After 10,000 submissions were made in the first hour, submissions appear to be losing momentum, with just 5,000 in the following hour. If this downward trend continues, there is a possibility the cap will not be achieved today. The simple fact the stream has been open this long–several hours–is a shock given the sheer volume of students and Post-Graduation Work Permit holders in Canada.
Also surprising is the relatively low uptake of the essential worker streams. Just 200 English-speaking health care worker applications have been submitted through the first two hours. The cap for this stream is 20,000 applications. Meanwhile, under 2,0000 applications have been submitted under the English-speaking essential non-health care worker stream. The cap for this stream is 30,000 applications. It is safe to say neither stream appear likely to hit their quota today.
Less than 200 French-speakers have submitted applications thus far, but that is expected since such candidates are not subject to caps and have until November 5 to submit their applications.
So, what explains the surprises?
IRCC worked meticulously behind the scenes to ensure previous mistakes were not repeated. In their May 4 technical briefing with the Canadian Bar Association, among others, IRCC noted it had purchased additional server capacity and its portal for the streams can handle up to 500 clicks per second.
That quotas have yet to be met can be explained by several factors:
- Many candidates have yet to complete their English language test. Completing an IELTS General Training or CELPIP is a requirement, and many candidates will need several weeks, or months, before they will be able to take the tests and support their applications.
- The streams launched during work hours. A requirement of the streams is to be currently employed. Many will not be able to submit their applications until later today.
- Candidates need more time to collect their documents. They were given just three weeks advanced notice of the streams launching, and IRCC only published the application guide yesterday at 3:45 p.m. EST. For example, graduates who just completed their studies in recent days or weeks may need more time to get their transcripts.
- There are not as many candidates that are currently eligible for the streams as was originally thought. Reasons candidates may not yet be eligible include not currently being employed or not yet having the 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience needed to apply under the essential worker streams.
Whatever the reasons could be, these pleasant surprises are certainly a relief to IRCC and many individuals who wish to apply to the streams, but were unable to do so beginning at 12 p.m. today.
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