recommendations to improve Canadas immigration system

The CIMM shared recommendations to improve Canada’s immigration system

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) released a report that examines outcomes in the Canadian immigration system that may systematically and unjustifiably disadvantage certain applicants based on characteristics such as race and country of origin. As a result of their deliberations, the committee shared a list of recommendations for the Government of Canada.

The following list is organized largely by what types of outcomes immigration decisions may affect.

1. Differential Outcomes for Applicants

In this section, the Committee recommends to IRCC ensure fairness and impartiality in the Refugee Program of vulnerable populations in line with its international obligations. Some of the recommendations include to:

  • Implement a consistent approach to emergency responses.
  • Extend the special measures offered to Ukrainians.
  • Increase the total number of refugees welcomed to Canada when there is a crisis, and not renege on or delay welcoming others whose applications are already waiting.
  • Allocate more resources to process caregiver permanent resident applications from all streams expeditiously.
  • Fund settlement agencies to provide services to temporary foreign workers and in-land refugee claimants.
  • Bring back the visa office specific quarterly updates.
  • Record applicant interviews with officials to avoid misunderstandings.

Other recommendations for IRCC include:

  • Work with external stakeholders, including with faith community leaders, to establish best practices and new training and guidelines to assist visa officers in the recognition and understanding of different cultural norms of marriage.
  • Ensure the strict application of section 22(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that the intention to settle in Canada does not interfere with obtaining temporary resident visas.
  • Respect the 12-month processing standard for spousal sponsorship applications.

In addition, CIMM also recommends that the Government of Canada create an independent oversight body for the CBSA. It also asks that CBSA’s mandate includes addressing racism and complaints about racism.

2. Differential Outcomes in Immigration Infrastructure and Funding Decisions

This section mentions that the Government of Canada requires an independent assessment and oversight by IT security experts of:

“And study the cases of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which have both in the last two years suspended the use of algorithmic systems because these systems have discriminatory biases,” says the report.

It also suggests that IRCC:

  • Increase, for all visa offices, the ratio of funding to applications processed, hire more visa officers and open new visa offices in underserved regions if security conditions permit.
  • Review how it can expand its biometrics collection sites to offer applicants more options nearer to where they live.
  • Allow for approved candidates whose medical exams have expired due to long processing delays to
    arrive in Canada and direct them to take a second, in-country exam if deemed necessary.
  • Increase funding for ethnocultural community groups to support their work.
  • Ensure organizations serving racialized women, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officers assigned to manage their contracts, are not subject to discriminatory practices and biases by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials.

3. Differential Outcomes for Employees at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

The recommendations include that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada:

  • Broaden its quality assurance to examine the potential effect of systemic racism and individual bias on visa officer decisions and visa office refusal rates, and publish within a year and a half the aggregate findings of these reviews.
  • Implement mandatory and regular seminar-style anti-bias, anti-racism and cultural awareness training for all visa officers; discontinue the use of the autonomous, online format for training on these topics; and investigate Australian visa officer training as a possible education model.
  • Include a focus on visa officers in its strategies to increase representation at intermediate job levels,
    and remove discrimination and other barriers to the promotion of racialized Canadian candidates for all levels of foreign service positions as visa officers.
  • Consider diversity among locally engaged staff, and promote measures to increase representation among locally engaged staff from different ethnic and cultural groups.
  • Work with external experts and internal stakeholders to develop anti-racism training with a gender-based lens, and that this training be mandatory for all employees and contractors.
  • Improve the application forms and update their website with as much detail as possible. The website should include transparency in detailing the process, including but not limited to the criteria that will be used to assess the authenticity of marriages.

Please note that this is just a summary of CIMM’s recommendations. To read the entire report, please visit Promoting Fairness in Canadian Immigration Decisions.

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