Canada's Conservative government says it will not accept more than its previously announced commitment of 10,000 Syrian refugees but will accelerate processing their applications to issue thousands more visas before the end of this year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government announced Saturday that Canada will bring in these refugees by Sept. 2016, 15 months ahead of schedule, by processing them without the previously required document by the UNCR to designate them as refugees.

Canada's government has endured criticism for taking in just 2,500 refugees since Jan. 2014. More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since the conflict began in 2011.

The Harper government announced in January it would accept 10,000 over three years and promised in August to accept an additional 10,000 over four years.