Canada remains the destination of choice worldwide for those who want to work, study, and settle there. And IRCC is working towards a modernized and digitalized immigration system in order to speed up processing and provide newcomers with the experience they expect and deserve.
On Sep1, 2022, the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, visited an IRCC application processing centre in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, to announce new online services across our immigration system, helping to improve client experience and reduce the backlogs. The key highlights/announcements were: -
Waiting time reduction - To further reduce wait times and address backlogs, the minister will exempt permanent and temporary residence applicants who are already in Canada from the immigration medical examination requirement, thus helping over 180,000 clients save time and money while reducing wait times.
The hiring of 1,250 new employees to tackle the backlogs and increase processing capacity.
During the pandemic, IRCC began conducting telephone and video interviews with sponsors and applicants to expedite the processing of family reunification applications.
Because of service modernization and additional support, IRCC has now returned to the pre-pandemic service standard of 12 months for all new spousal sponsorship applications.
With the ease of restrictions globally, in-person interviews at Canadian and international offices have been resumed.
Where possible, virtual interviews for spousal sponsorship clients will continue. In addition, efforts are being made to expand the availability of virtual interviews at overseas offices, including through a pilot project that allows spousal sponsorship and other clients to participate in virtual interviews at some visa application centres rather than travelling to a visa office.
Expansion of online applications for Permanent Residence - IRCC is also taking measures to modernize how the services are delivered to applicants for permanent residence programs.
Transition to 100% digital applications for most of the PR programs, with alternative formats available for those who need accommodation.
Also as committed in January 2022, access to the online application portal for clients has now been expanded to the majority of permanent residence applicants.
Providing better information to clients - By Spring 2023, 7 more PR and TR programs will be added to the application status tracker system launched in February 2022, which allows PR applicants, sponsors, and their representatives in the spouse, partner, and dependent child categories to check their application status online more easily.
The citizenship application status tracker for clients launched in May 2021 will be expanded to include access to representatives this month.
To help clients make more confident plans, IRCC is making additional improvements to its online processing times tool to provide more accurate information. Beginning this fall, IRCC will publish forward-looking estimates of how long it will take to process an application, providing applicants with greater predictability.
Modernizing the citizenship program - Since the outbreak of the pandemic, IRCC has also shifted its focus to providing more online services for citizenship applicants, such as virtual ceremonies and online citizenship tests. In August 2021, a new tool was launched that allows most citizenship applications to be submitted online. The tool is available to applicants aged 18 and up, and it has recently been expanded to allow groups of adults to apply together. By the end of the year, IRCC plans to expand this tool to include online applications for minors under the age of 18.
“Immigration is about people. It’s about starting a new job, reuniting a family and creating a new life in this beautiful country we call home. As we look to strengthen our immigration system by updating our technology, people—our clients—must be at the center of all that we do. By adding resources where they are needed, and leveraging technology to make processing faster and applying easier for our clients, we can give newcomers and new citizens the welcoming experience they deserve.”
– The Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship