Canada will soon start expediting the processing of certain tourist visas through its immigration system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced as part of its of the strategic immigration report titled “An Immigration System for Canada’s Future.”
“We are … committed to ensuring priority visa processing [for] those from all over the world attending major conferences and events in Canada that are registered with IRCC”, said the immigration department, as part of the action plan outlined in the report.
The action plan presented was presented alongside findings and other content gathered by the federal government, led by IRCC, after consultation with a wide range of stakeholders in Canada.
This comes as Canada is looking to better tailor its national immigration system to meet the country’s changing economic and demographic needs. Divided into several groups, one of IRCC’s stated goals is, through this new immigration strategy, to continue efforts to reduce wait times and improve service standards for newcomers to Canada.
Within this part of the government’s action plan, which falls under the larger goal of creating “a more welcoming experience for newcomers”, Canada has indicated an intention to expedite the processing of certain visitor visas, with a particular focus on applications made by newcomers seeking entry into this country “for tourism, major conferences and events.”
What other steps has Canada taken to aid visitor visa applicants?
This is not the first step Canada has taken to improve services for tourist visa applicants around the world. In June this year, IRCC added 13 more countries to its list of “partially visa-exempt countries,” bringing the total number of countries on the list to 67.
This means taking into account June 6, 2023, “there are 67 countries travelers can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) instead of a [visitor] visa.”
The advantage of this, for the benefit of qualified visitors who want to come to Canada temporarily, is that “most eTA applications” are approved much faster than visitor visas, often “within within minutes” according to IRCC.
Visitor visa applications are on the rise in Canada
While public attention on immigration has focused on the permanent residence and entry of long-term newcomers to Canada, IRCC also notes that people entering the country temporarily – including visa applicants from visitors – is not a consideration of the Department of Immigration. In fact, at the end of 2022, IRCC made it clear that Canada was processing a much higher number of visitor visas across the country than before.
In a press release on December 19 of last year, the Department of Immigration said it was working to “reduce the backlog and process visitor visas more quickly” in response to increased demand to visit Canada.
Monthly, IRCC says, “Canada is now processing more tourist visa applications than it did [before the COVID-19 pandemic].”
Specifically, the Department of Immigration noted that IRCC processed more than 260,000 visitor visas in November 2022 alone.
This number is notable because IRCC also noted that “the monthly average of visitors processed] in 2019 was approximately 180,000 requests”.
In light of these numbers, Canada’s decision to prioritize tourist visas through this new strategy will be beneficial for many newly qualified people who want to visit Canada in the future.