Within 25 hours of launching the temporary residence to permanent residence (TR to PR) program, Canada reached its intake cap of 40,000 international student graduates. An internal memo reveals that the immigration department actually got significantly more applications than planned.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received 7,307 additional applications to the International Graduate stream of the TR to PR pathways, according to a briefing obtained by CIC News through an access to information request.
The TR to PR pathways are six special immigration programs created to allow essential workers, French speakers, and international student graduates in Canada to apply for Canadian immigration. These one-time programs were opened on May 6, and will close on November 5 or until intake caps are reached.
The additional applications for the international graduate program were accepted due to a technical error with the electronic system. Applications were counted at the time of submission using a live counter that displayed the number of applications received on the government’s website. However, some applications that were submitted simultaneously were only counted as one application. In other words, if two applicants hit “Submit” at the same time, the system sometimes counted it as one application.
IRCC is also expecting a smaller number of additional applications from people who required accommodations to apply, such as people with disabilities.
Following the error, the immigration department requested Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino approve a temporary public policy to allow for the applications to be processed. Otherwise, as per the current policy, they would need to be returned to the applicants along with the fees. Also, the briefing states it would likely be perceived as unfair since IRCC sent them confirmation that their applications had been received within the intake cap.
Mendicino approved the policy on June 28, allowing for the 7,307 applications to be processed. It does not mean the stream will be reopened, rather that the department will not penalize applicants for an error in its own system.
However, since IRCC had not planned to process the extra volume, some resources will have to be diverted from other lines of business. No further details were included in the memo. CIC News has reached out to IRCC media relations for more information.
The department does not anticipate that the other TR to PR streams will also have an excess of applications. The live counter is now being monitored, and applications that are submitted simultaneously are being manually synced to the database.
The government is anticipating a mixed response from the public. While some may respond positively to the fact that applicants will not be denied this chance at permanent residency, others may consider it unfair or beyond the scope of the policy’s original intention.
The new pathways got lots of media coverage. While some outlets said the rollout went relatively smoothly given the scope of the project, others had concerns about the technical issues with the electronic payment system, and the speed at which the intake cap was reached.
Furthermore, some international student graduate applicants had concerns that since they could not edit their submission after applying, they may be disqualified if they made an error. An IRCC spokesperson previously told CIC News that immigration officers will contact applicants directly to request missing or incomplete documents from TR to PR applicants.
“Incomplete applications will be assessed based on the information provided,” IRCC said in an email. “If documents or information are missing or incomplete, the processing officer, at the time of review, will contact clients directly to request them. We will not however, accept unsolicited documentation. Applicants are requested to not send documentation to the department unless specifically requested by a processing officer.”
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