During the COVID-19 pandemic, a backlog of permanent residents waiting to be tested is growing.
Minakshi thought her road to Canadian citizenship was coming to an end in March 2020, when Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada set a date for her citizenship test.
The world changed in front of her eyes on March 11, precisely a week before her scheduled citizenship test, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Except for a few “urgent” exams held virtually, the IRCC canceled all examinations, including hers.
“We got it, and we tried to help,” Minakshi said.
However, it took several months for the department to restart assessments, which were eventually moved online at the end of November.
Data obtained by media portrays that Minakshi is one of the hundreds of thousands of people stuck in a waiting pattern.
Employees at the IRCC agree in a series of internal emails that the backlog of permanent residents preparing to take a citizenship exam has grown from 87,000 in March 2020 to 102,000 at the start of this year.
At the end of January, 311,259 people were waiting to complete the entire citizenship application process, according to the data.
102,989 of them had been waiting for between 13 and 18 months, and 865 had been waiting for more than four years.
The statistics and internal department emails were released after the group filed an access to information lawsuit.
“Because of the situation we’re in, we all understand fair delays,” Umar said. “However, when it comes to a lack of accountability and unnecessary delays, that instills a great deal of deep sadness.”