Immigration Minister Announces Major Improvements to the Immigration System

Canada’s Immigration Minister Announces Major Improvements to the Immigration System

Today, January 31, Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser made an important announcement on improving the immigration system. At the news conference on Parliament Hill, the Minister pointed out two major measures to get the immigration system back on track:

  1. An investment of $85 million to reduce the backlog in Canada’s immigration system.
  2. New functionalities to transform the immigration system into a modern and digital immigration platform.

Let’s take a look at these measures.

The $85 million to reduce backlogs

On December 14, 2021, the Minister of Finance proposed $85 million to reduce the backlog in Canada’s immigration system. This investment was included in the recent Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 to speed up the process of citizenship, reunite families, and welcome immigrants who can help address Canada’s labour shortages.

The Minister is now saying the budget will also support the return to processing standards for study permits, work permits, and permanent resident card renewals by the end of the year. A media release says Canada is also working to reduce processing times for visitor visas and proof of citizenship.

“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 for me.” – The Honourable Sean Fraser.

In the last months, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has:

  • hired approximately 500 new processing staff,
  • digitized applications, and
  • reallocated work among offices around the world.

In addition, IRCC plans to make 147,000 permanent residence final decisions in the first quarter of 2022. This is more than IRCC made in the same period last year.

<<Also Read: What to expect from Canadian immigration in 2022?>>

The transition to an online application process

According to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, IRCC has expanded the use of advanced data analytics to process TRV applications. The analytics system help to identify routine applications for streamlined processing, and sort and triage non-routine applications. IRCC also noticed that routine files can be assessed 87% faster using the system.

Even though this sounds great, there is not much public information on how exactly IRCC is using AI and advanced data analytics to deliver programs and services. This raises concerns on how technology could lead to errors and assumptions for immigrants’ applications.

Moreover, IRCC will be expanding the following functionalities to transform the immigration system into a modern, digital immigration platform:

  • IRCC expects to include more clients in summer 2022 for the digital application portal for permanent residence applicants.
  • In addition, IRCC has developed a portal to allow permanent residence applicants in Canada to finalize their process and receive their permanent residency cards without any in-person interaction. From June 2021 to December 2021, 225,000 permanent residents have used this portal.
  • For citizenship applicants, IRCC has introduced online testing, created an online application tracker, and launched virtual citizenship ceremonies. Canada has sworn in 170,000 new Canadians since April 1, 2020.
  • IRCC will also introduce a new Permanent Residence Application Tracker in February 2022 for spouses and dependents to allow clients easy access to their application information and status online.

Furthermore, IRCC is exploring more options for those who wish to self-administer their Oath by signed attestation, and celebrate their citizenship at a later date. This would shorten the waiting time for those at the final stage of their citizenship process.

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