Canada to expedite some visitor visas going forward

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: November 11, 2023

Canada will soon begin expediting the processing of certain visitor visas through its immigration system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced as part of its strategic immigration report called “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 presented action plan was delivered alongside findings and other content collated by the federal government, led by IRCC, following consultations with various Canadian stakeholders. This comes as Canada looks to better adjust the national immigration system to meet the country's changing economic and demographic needs.

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Broken down into several groups, one of IRCC’s stated goals is to, through this new immigration strategy, further work at reducing wait times and improving 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 service for visitor visa applicants from around the world.

In June this year, IRCC added 13 additional countries to its “partial visa exempt countries” list, bringing the total number of countries on that list to 67. What this means is that, as of June 6, 2023, “travellers from 67 countries can apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) instead of a [visitor] visa.”

The advantage of doing so, to the benefit of eligible visitors looking to come to Canada temporarily, is that “most eTA applications” are approved much faster than visitor visas, often “within minutes” according to IRCC.

Visitor visa applications are on the rise in Canada

While most of the public focus regarding immigration is centred on permanent residence and the entry of long-term newcomers to Canada, IRCC also notes that temporary residents entering this country – including visitor visa applicants – are not an afterthought of the immigration department.

In fact, toward the end of 2022, IRCC made it clear that Canada is processing a significantly higher number of visitor visas across the country than in the past. In a news release from December 19 last year, the immigration department noted that they are working to “reduce backlogs and process visitor visas more quickly” in response to increased global desire to visit Canada.

On a month-by-month basis, said IRCC, “Canada is now processing more visitor visa applications than it did [before the COVID-19] pandemic.” Specifically, the immigration department 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 visitor visas processed] in 2019 was about 180,000 applications.”

In light of these numbers, Canada’s move to prioritize visitor visas through this new strategy will benefit many eligible newcomers looking to visit Canada in the future.

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