On May 12, Canada's immigration minister attended the Citizenship and Immigration Standing Committee of the Canadian Parliament to answer questions. The main agenda was about the processing of applicants' paperwork waiting to be examined. Their main concern at the moment is improving immigration screening because the role of the Citizenship and Immigration Standing Committee is to monitor federal immigration policies and to make progressive policy proposals. According to their announcement, as of April 29, 2022, the number of applicants waiting for screening exceeded 2.1 million, and they wondered what the specific alternative of the immigration office, which promised to improve screening speed, was. In response, Immigration Minister Fraser responded, and judging from the content, it can be expected that there will be a change in the way immigration screening will be conducted in the future.
As has already been announced several times, the Canadian Immigration Service is trying to resume the Express Entry raffle in July and add speed to the selection of immigrants in all areas. The shortening of immigration screening period is news to be expected, as we are strongly determined to return immigration screening in all areas to standard processing time by the end of the year. In addition, at the request of the Citizenship and Immigration Standing Committee, we were able to hear about specific improvements, and the following improvements are noticeable.
First of all, the Immigration Department has hired a large number of new employees over the past year, rapidly increasing the number of people to be put into the screening process. More than 11,000 employees were previously deployed to the screening of overdue documents to conduct immigration screening, and we are trying to reduce the waiting documents by adding more people. There are objections that the change in screening speed was not faster than expected because it took time for newly deployed personnel to develop their expertise, but as their expertise gradually increases, we expect that the effect of recruiting judges will be greater.
We were able to hear more details about the efforts to modernize the immigration screening system. The existing immigration screening was a structure that had to be inspected by manpower, but the goal is to try to digitize and complete the screening in a short time. The immigration office says it has already spent $827 million to digitize the screening system, which could have resulted in 156,000 permanent residency applications in the first quarter.
In addition, they said they have reduced the screening period by investing additional budget in certain areas that need rapid processing, such as renewal of permanent residency. Assistant Immigration Secretary Daniel Mills says the renewal period for permanent residency as of the end of last year is now down by half to 65 days, compared to 120 days. Therefore, the effects of budget increase and manpower input are gradually being verified, and based on this, he expressed confidence that all immigration screening standards will be returned to the existing standard time by the end of the year.
The most impressive part was the announcement that there would be a change in the Express Entry screening system. No blueprint has been presented yet, but the immigration minister's interview showed that there will be further changes to the immigration system. I felt the need to pay more attention to changes in immigration selection in the future by saying that there would be additional changes to the immigration minister's Express Entry system and that would eventually mean shorter immigration screening periods.
It is not easy to fully understand what changes will be made at the moment. However, I think the experience of the Canadian Immigration Bureau, which slowed down due to special circumstances such as COVID-19, has become a kind of lesson. So we've made them consider another method of immigration screening, and I think they're probably taking strong measures to prevent the delay in immigration screening due to external factors from happening again. This raises a cautious expectation that it will soon bring about a renaissance that is more appropriate for immigration. To prepare for a better immigration strategy, it would be nice to be patient and watch the new Express Entry federal immigration changes that the Canadian Immigration Service is planning.