Canada immigration system may become world-class with a digital revolution.

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Canada may learn a lot about digital immigration from how other nations have implemented it. Modernization might create a more effective and equitable system.

In order for Canada to fulfil its ambitious immigration objective of 1.2 million new residents between 2021 and 2023, it will need an immigration system that is digitally enabled, effective, strategic, and fair.

That is something that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are doing very effectively. One of the first government agencies to collaborate with CDS and demonstrate an interest in digital transformation was this one. The COVID outbreak served as a motivator for accelerating progress and clearing backlogs as well as adapting to the new entrance and travel regulations.

IRCC has been named a winner of the Canadian digital government community awards 2022 in recognition of the department's ongoing efforts both internally and with partners like the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), including excellence in innovation for its online citizenship test, excellence in open government for its digital application status trackers, and excellence in product management for its permanent residence digital intake portal.

The pace has slowed down, though, due to persistent travel and border restrictions as well as other global worries. To guarantee that those goals can be achieved in the face of these new realities, the federal government is investing hundreds of millions in the modernization of IRCC's IT infrastructure.

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Modernizing their immigration procedures has been successful in Finland, the US, and Australia. Canada might take inspiration from their example.

Australia: For a lot of years, Australia has maintained a goal yearly intake of more than 160,000 immigrants. It started a modernisation programme ten years ago. The idea of the "seamless traveller" was developed in response to the rise in online visa and citizenship applications, longer processing times, resource constraints, and security risks.

Officials discovered that operational efficiencies couldn't be attained simply by digitising procedures. To enable the workforce, new procedures have to be simple and human-centred. Australia unveiled its reusable permissions capability in October 2020. This platform offers standardised procedures, approvals, and decision-making for agencies that issue licences, registrations, accreditations, permits, and visas.

By digitising the incoming passenger cards already in use, the Australian Department of Home Affairs expedited border crossing procedures. In order to enhance the national COVID response and shorten processing times, this involved gathering more health-related declarations and passenger contact information.

Success in Canada depends on three factors: people, processes, and policies.

People

It's crucial to start with the end user's experience. In order to implement new technologies that can achieve these objectives, existing procedures must be changed to become user-centric digital experiences from the perspective of the applicants.

When considering a world-class immigration system from the viewpoint of those desiring to immigrate to Canada, a system must be quick and effective, with timely information, and each stage of the process must be well planned. It should be simple to use, have simple, accessible services and procedures, and be able to comprehend and meet the demands of the applicant. Additionally, the procedures must be fair and open so that applicants may track the status of their files as they go through the system.

The appropriate stakeholder groups must also be mentioned. The nations with the highest success placed high importance on coordination.

In order to process cases more quickly and maybe correct any biases, relevant instances should be grouped and classified, such as different categories pertaining to families. In response, the government can develop digital systems that include factors like diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others.

Process

The government must completely embrace digital culture, tools, and capabilities in order to accomplish a user-first vision. It's no longer merely a test of your IT skills. For a workforce that can easily adopt new strategies and share information, every directorate and organisation must become a digital organisation. Building the appropriate digital culture and capabilities in the end-to-end company will be crucial as workforces grow more hybrid in character.

Policy

Technology fixes and the finest possible digital experience are useless without supportive legislation, despite our best efforts. Given the disruptive and transformational character of the digital transition, a flexible policy is essential to gather information from conflicting objectives and adapt to them.

We need to discover a quicker approach to altering policy in Canada. For instance, to actively engage citizen users, the government's open innovation team in the U.K. adopts a "policy at pace" methodology.

Canada has a solid foundation and a strong commitment to improving how it administers immigration and provides new immigrants with user-centric digital experiences as they move through each stage of the immigration process. We can create a really contemporary, cutting-edge, and top-notch immigration system by taking into account lessons from throughout the world.

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