Nearly 60,000 applications have been put in processing limbo due to mismanagement, according to a recent Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.
The ATIP request (a legal recourse to request information from government organizations)—submitted by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) revealed that 779 inactive Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers had been assigned (59,456) pending and re-opened applications for processing. Inactive officers are users that no longer use, nor have access to, the Global Case Management System (GCMS)—IRCC’s universal system for processing applications for citizenship and immigration services.
Active cases were assigned to inactive officers spanning Canadian airports, border ports, and processing centres; as well as officers in consulates in India, the U.S., the Philippines, Brazil, and more.
The ATIP request also revealed the unique placeholder codes of the inactive immigration officers, their last login date into GCMS, and the number of applications that had been assigned to them.
IRCC officers can only be identified publicly through these placeholder codes, which applicants can see on their GCMS notes. GCMS notes are requests that individuals can make under the ATIP to receive IRCC’s notes, on their immigration application; including correspondence to and from IRCC, documents received from the applicant, detailed notes from the officers reviewing the file, and other relevant information.
At this time, it is unclear why IRCC has been assigning applications to inactive users; however, according to CBC, IRCC was unable to remove these inactive users from the GCMS, as traceability would be lost.
In the wake of increasing scrutiny, and a continued need to welcome newcomers into Canada; IRCC has tried to take measures to combat a huge backlog of applications. The department has hired 1,250 more employees, and committed to using more advanced data analytics to hasten application processing speed; while investing millions of dollars to develop a new department-wide digital system that would eventually replace the GCMS by 2023.
Application backlogs have also decreased in recent months, standing at 2.2 million people applicants, as of December 9th 2022.
Despite these strides however, IRCC continues to aspire to previous service standards, as it grapples with a massive number of backlogged applications. The effect of this can be seen more dramatically in immigration streams with smaller targets—like the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP), which operates on a lottery system basis with yearly selections. The past two years has seen IRCC simply recycle applications submitted to its 2020 pool; a departure from prior used processes, which has disproportionate impacts on the elderly applicants to the PGP.
While the department has made gains in 2022 (and continues to commit to more measures in coming years), it is clear that IRCC has not yet reached its pre-pandemic application levels and must continue to address these shortcomings to reestablish service standards and normalcy to application processing.
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