People who are looking for a new location to work, study and start their lives continue to choose Canada as their destination. To further speed up processing and give newcomers the experience they expect and deserve, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is working to modernize and digitize the immigration system.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser, visited an IRCC application processing facility in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, today to introduce new online services for our immigration system that will enhance client satisfaction and decrease backlogs.
Decreasing waiting times
The Minister will exempt permanent and temporary residence applicants who are already in Canada and meet certain requirements from the immigration medical examination required in order to further decrease wait times and build on the hiring of 1,250 new employees to address the backlogs and increase processing capacity. By assisting them in saving time and money on the medical examination procedure and shortening wait periods on their applications, this process will be simplified in the upcoming weeks, having an impact on roughly 180,000 clients.
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During the epidemic, IRCC started conducting telephone and video interviews with sponsors and applicants to swiftly complete family reunification applications. Despite difficulties with public health, the department was able to accept more than 69,000 wives, partners, and kids in 2021 by making a swift change. We have now restored the pre-pandemic service norm of 12 months for all new spousal sponsorship applications by updating our services and adding support where necessary.
IRCC has restarted in-person interviews at its Canadian and foreign offices as limitations are being loosened globally. The department will keep providing virtual interviews to customers in order to give spousal sponsorship clients more freedom. We are also working to increase the availability of virtual interviews at our overseas offices. For example, as part of a pilot project, some visa application centers are allowing clients who are applying under spousal sponsorship and other circumstances to participate in virtual interviews rather than visiting a visa office.
Expanding the number of permanent residency applications online
Additionally, IRCC is modernizing the way we provide services to participants in our permanent residence programs. The Minister declared today that the majority of applicants for permanent residence now have access to the online application platform, as promised in January 2022. The majority of IRCC's permanent residence programs will start accepting only digital applications on September 23; additional forms will be made available for those who need accommodations.
Giving Clients Better Information
The IRCC also introduced a new application status tracker in February 2022 that made it simpler for applicants for permanent residence, sponsors, and their representatives in the spouse, partner, and dependent child categories to check the status of their applications online. This application progress tracker will now feature 7 additional temporary and permanent residence programs by the spring of 2023. In May 2021, we also launched a citizenship application status tracker for customers; this month, it will be enhanced to include access to representatives.
IRCC is continuing to make changes to our online processing times tool to provide more precise information so that clients may make their plans with greater assurance. To provide predictability for applicants, the IRCC will start publishing estimates of how long it will take to process an application this fall.
Bringing the citizenship program up to date
Since the start of the epidemic, IRCC has also changed course to provide citizenship applicants with more online service choices, such as virtual ceremonies and online citizenship tests. In August 2021, we introduced a new technology that enables the majority of citizenship applications to be submitted online. The application process now allows groups of adults to apply together and is open to applicants who are at least 18 years old. By the end of the year, IRCC plans to expand this capability to include online applications for children under the age of 18.
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In order for Canada to continue benefiting from everything that immigrants have to give to communities around the country, IRCC keeps raising the bar for processing. We will continue to look for methods to streamline and digitize our immigration process in order to provide clients with the services they demand and strengthen Canada's position as a top travel destination worldwide.
Immigration is a human issue. It's about establishing a new life in this wonderful nation we call home, getting a new career, and bringing a family back together. People, or more specifically, our clients, must be at the center of all we do as we aim to better our immigration system by modernizing our technology. We can provide newcomers and citizens with the warm welcome they deserve by allocating resources where they are required and utilizing technology to speed up processing and make applying simpler for our clients.
– Most Honorable Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Sean Fraser
- By allowing more than 405,000 new permanent residents into Canada in 2021, IRCC broke all previous records. Our goal is to welcome 431,000 permanent residents by 2022, and we are on the right path to do so. By August 22, we had welcomed almost 300,000 permanent residents, breaking the last record earlier than before.
- In addition, Canada gained more than 217,000 new citizens in 2021–2022, exceeding its citizenship targets for that year. Over 116,000 new citizens have entered Canada so far this fiscal year (from April 1 to July 31), compared to 35,000 over the same period last fiscal year.
- On November 26, 2020, Canada introduced online citizenship testing, making it one of the pioneering nations in the world. We are able to invite roughly 5,000 applicants every week to finish the test, and by July 31, 2022, over 406,000 people will have taken the virtual citizenship test.
- On April 1, 2020, IRCC began providing online citizenship ceremonies, and by July 31, 2022, more than 394,000 people had taken the Oath of Citizenship in nearly 15,000 online ceremonies.
- The Minister introduced the Permanent Atlantic Immigration Program application process in March 2022. Candidates may apply for permanent residence under the new permanent program if they have a valid business endorsement from Atlantic Canada. This innovative program is assisting the Atlantic Provinces in luring more highly qualified immigrants to support our economic recovery and spur additional expansion in the area.
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