As Canada remains a destination of choice for people looking for a new place to study, work and build their lives, IRCC continue working towards streamlining the immigration application system by introducing new technological measures, designed to help expedite processing times and provide a user-friendly experience which every newcomer should expect.
To this effect, on September 1, 2022, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced IRCC's goals to continue implementing new online tools to make the application process more straightforward, while also guaranteeing that IRCC will continue to higher new internal staff, thereby, helping to overcome the backlog and improve the client experience; thereby, expanding on IRCC’s previous statement to help further reduce wait times, tackle backlogs and increase processing capacity.
So how will this affect you?
Permanent and Temporary Resident Applications
As committed in January 2022, the Minister announced that access to the online portal for applicants has been increased significantly, with hopes that the transition to 100% digital applications will be complete by September 23rd, 2022.
On this note, by spring 2023, IRCC are also looking to expand their Application Status Tracker for Permanent Residence and Temporary Residence applications to include 7 more programs. Alternate formats will continue to be made available where needed and for those who require alternative formats for accessibility issues.
The Minister has also announced that IRCC will now exempt Permanent and Temporary Residence applicants from the immigration medical examination requirement, if they are:
1) Already in Canada, and
2) Meet particular application requirements
This development will not only reduce backlog times, thereby, speeding up the processing of numerous applications, but will also save applicants money when it comes to their applications, and unnecessary requests.
To help ensure quicker processing, and therefore, help families reunite in a quicker manner, IRCC has now also started accepting telephone and video interviews with sponsors sponsoring applicants under the Spousal/Family Sponsorship streams.
By processing applicants in this manner, IRCC has not only overcome public health challenges while continuing to process applications but has also been able to reunite over 69,000 families in 2021 alone.
As such, although IRCC has now, once again, begun in-person interviews given that IRCC has reverted to pre-pandemic processing times, they will still provide flexibility and offer virtual interviews where possible, and where needed.
As with Permanent and Temporary Residency applications, due to the pandemic, IRCC has had to really modernize the way it interacted with its clients when it came to Citizenship applications. As such, since August 2021, IRCC has continued to increase online tools for Citizenship applicants, including but not limited to:
1) Online citizenship tests,
2) Virtual Ceremonies, and
3) The Citizenship Application Status Tracker, which launched in May 2021 for applicants directly,
with goals of permitting representatives at some point this month.
Through these new tools, applications 18 years old and up (or minors sponsored by adults) are now able to submit their applications online and participate in all other required steps via online methods as well. IRCC is hopeful that the option for online applications for minors under the age of 18 will be implemented by the end of the year.
IN CLOSING, since the commencement of 2022 alone, Canada has already welcomed over 250,000+ new citizens and permanent/temporary residents through their use of tools; a vast improvement compared to this time last year. As such, given IRCC’s goal to demolish current application backlogs through the use of online tools by the end of 2022, we would say that these developments have indicated that they are well on their way to achieving a more modernized immigration system.
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This update has been compiled with the latest available information for the general information of Border Law clients and other interested parties. This Update is not comprehensive and should not be relied upon without appropriate legal advice.