Growth of Newfoundland immigration rate creates longer wait times for application processing
Newfoundland and Labrador once had the fewest number of immigrants in all of Canada. But now, as immigration interest is starting to soar, the province is struggling to keep up, resulting in backlogs and wait times nearly double the standard.
Atlantic Canada has historically remained the least diverse region in all of Canada due to low levels of immigration. Only 2.4 per cent of the population in Newfoundland and Labrador were born outside of Canada, while 22 per cent of all Canadians were born in a different country.
However, according to CBC, Newfoundland and Labrador has experienced a recent surge in immigration. In fact, this past year, there has been a 50 per cent increase in immigration applications compared to last year.
As a result, immigrants looking to settle in the province through two key programs are facing lengthy delays in having their applications processed.
Applications to the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) should be assessed within 25 business days, but instead, the processing time has been around two and a half months.
Meanwhile, the number of applications in both the NLPNP and Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) tripled compared to the year prior.
CBC reported that in May 2018, there were 49 NLPNP applications in the queue, and by May 2019, that number had grown to 88.
In the AIPP queue, there was just one application in May 2018, but that number increased significantly to 68 by this year.
The number of immigrants settling in Newfoundland and Labrador under these programs doesn’t include applications such as federal economic, family sponsorship, or refugee applications.
The surge in immigration is far from over, as the province is now expecting to exceed its target of 1,700 newcomers by 2022, three years earlier than expected. A new target figure will be revealed soon, in hopes of gaining even more newcomers to help address certain demographic challenges in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the meantime, the province is working to address issues with the immigration process in order to shorten wait times and ease backlogs.
Davis added that some of the backlog has already been cleared after the province managed to process a record number of applications in June.
Also helping to speed up the process is the return of one of the province’s five immigration officers that handle applications from parental leave.