Wait times for asylum claims at 21 months despite infusion of federal cash

OTTAWA — The arms-length agency that processes refugee claims says asylum seekers who cross into Canada today will have to wait almost two years before learning if their claim is accepted.

The Immigration and Refugee Board says wait times are around 21 months, but could have climbed even higher without a cash infusion from the federal government.

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The Liberals set aside $74 million this year to address a major backlog of asylum claims at the board.

The board has hired more than 60 new staff to adjudicate refugee claims, many of which are coming from an influx of tens of thousands of "irregular" border crossers who have crossed from the United States through non-official entry points.

The board is warning wait times could grow as it deals with a projected 60,000 new claims this fiscal year, which ends in March 2019.

The Canadian Council for Refugees says successful asylum seekers are waiting an additional two-and-a-half years to become permanent residents — a situation the group calls a serious concern that should be addressed.

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