Summarizing IRCC’s efforts to modernize immigration to Canada IRCC recently showcased its plans for updating application management systems to help with processing times and client communication. Find a recap of IRCC’s plans below.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) presented these IRCC Digital Modernization slides to immigration representatives including the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section in a meeting on October 12, 2022.
What follows is an overview designed to provide a look into the steps IRCC is taking to modernize application management systems.
Why Canada has prioritized improving its immigration systems
Canada recognizes that is it crucial for the country’s prosperity that they work to alter the application management systems for Canada’s immigration programs. In a January 2022 press release, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said:
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“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals. Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority. Immigration benefits all Canadians—it helps grow our economy and strengthens our communities across the country. Many people are choosing Canada as the place to visit and build their future, and to ensure that we stay competitive, we have introduced concrete measures to make sure those who want to come to Canada have the client experience they deserve.”
The steps IRCC is taking to modernize immigration to Canada
Accordingly, Canada is taking the following strides to change the application management systems throughout Canadian immigration to meet the nation’s goals related to better processing times and more efficient communication for clients.
1. Financial Investment
- In the Economic and Fiscal Update 2021, Canada proposed $85 million in new funding to reduce application inventories
- As part of the 2021 budget, Canada invested $428.9 million over 5 years, with $398.5 million in remaining amortization “to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform that would gradually replace IRCC’s legacy Global Case Management System (GCMS)”
2. Expanding Use of Advanced Data Analytics
- The use of data analytics with respect to visitor visas has thus far shown that routine files can be assessed 87% faster
3. Allowing More Applicants to Use Digital Application Portal
- Thus far, specific to spousal sponsorship applicants, application processing has returned to the service standard of 12 months for new applications
- IRCC began its transition to 100% digital applications for permanent residence programs in September 2022, with alternative formats still available for people who require accommodations
4. Introduction of the Permanent Residence Application Tracker
5. Online System for Receipt of Permanent Residency Cards
- Between June and December 2021, 225,000 permanent residents used this portal already
6. Developments for Citizenship Applicants
These developments include:
- Online testing
- An online application tracker/submission system
- Virtual citizenship ceremonies
- Allowing interested candidates to self-administer their Oath by signed attestation and celebrate their citizenship afterwards
7. Updating Existing Procedures
IRCC is working to:
- Update the online processing times tool and begin publishing forward-looking estimates of application processing times
- Make certain applicants exempt from requiring a medical examination for immigration
- Conduct more telephone and video interviews for some programs, including expanding the availability of virtual interviews at our overseas offices and even some visa application centres
With a first phase that began in December 2020, IRCC has laid out the following three-phase timeline for the full implementation of its digital program modernization plan:
Phase 1: Stabilize (December 2020 to November 2021)
- Focus: “Stabilizing the GCMS until a new platform can be delivered in phase three”
Phase 2: Standardize (December 2021 to March 2023)
- Focus: “Establishing foundational cloud elements to support capabilities that will be delivered in phase three”
Phase 3: Enhance (April 2023 to December 2026)
- Focus: Deliver a new digital operating platform and enable activities to ensure [IRCC] is ‘digital ready’
Generally, the above measures will decrease application processing times and provide more efficient two-way communication ability for clients.
The following are more specific expected outcomes and benefits that applicants will enjoy thanks to the improvements Canada is working to make.
- More flexibility with application interviews/processing
- Improved application processing and support
- Provide better estimates of expected application processing times
- Shortened waiting times
- Allow for the hiring of additional application processing staff
- Help officers sort and process visitor visa applications submitted from outside Canada
- Help IRCC manage the increasing volume of applications
- Minimize COVID-19-related delays associated with processing paper applications
- Provide clients with immediate confirmation of successful application submission
- Provide easier access to application information and status updates online
- Help applicants save both time and money on the medical examination process
- Allowing applicants to plan their immigration journey via increased predictability
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