VANCOUVER -- Frustration has been growing among people living in Canada who are trying to get permanent resident status and citizenship. However, the federal government has taken notice and the processing times for applications appear to be speeding up. 

The pandemic had slowed things down and created a backlog. Yet despite that, the federal government opened the door for more applications.

On April 14, it announced a new pathway for 90,000 more immigrants currently living in Canada to get permanent residency. This applied to essential workers and international graduates.

“Canada’s path to prosperity lies through immigration,” said Marco Mendicino, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Canada's declining birthrate makes immigration essential for the economy.

“In the midst of the pandemic, newcomers are stepping up,” Mendicino added.

“It’s great news. I’m really happy for this,” said Kaveh Matinkhoo, a chemistry PhD and researcher at UBC.

Matinkhoo certainly fits the bill for the new program. He was part of a team at UBC that successfully synthesized a toxin from the fatal death cap mushroom that could be used to cure cancer. However, he felt left out because he had already applied for permanent residency under a different program, the Canadian Experience Class Express Entry. That was in October 2019, and this month, he was still waiting for his permanent resident card.

“(I'm) frustrated that I’ve been in the system and I applied through the old way before the pandemic,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of other people are in my situation now.”

Matinkhoo, originally from Iran, has lived in Canada for nearly nine years and has been granted a post-graduate work permit that is valid until October of this year. He says he submitted his security check long ago.

CTV News Vancouver asked the immigration minister to explain what is being done to speed things up.

“The way that we are making strides towards getting back to pre-COVID processing times is by adding people,” Mendicino said.

The government has hired 62 new workers for the case processing centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Mendicino also says the ministry is improving technology by committing to modernizing the department’s processing systems. In addition, his department told CTV News that as of February of this year, it has processed more permanent residents than at the same time last year.

Three days after McLaughlin On Your Side contacted the ministry, Matinkhoo received a call from IRCC letting him know his application is now in the final stages.

“I want to be able to continue living here permanently without worrying about applying for a visa or work permit or whether I can continue to live here,” he said. “Just put my energy into working here and helping this society," he said. 

“It sounds like the wheels are moving now, and I hope to have my PR approved in the next few days!” 

Matinkhoo got his letter of approval for permanent residency just two days after receiving the call from the IRCC. 

The timing could have been a coincidence and actually demonstrates how processing times are accelerating. CTV News had spoken to another individual who had been waiting for the their PR card renewal application that was supposed to take three months to process. That individual got their renewal card in the mail last week, within two months, and CTV never gave IRCC their name.  

“Once again, I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me,” Matinkhoo said.  

And he wants to thank IRCC for taking notice and making the changes to its systems.