Immigration Minister Sean Fraser launched new online services across Canada’s immigration system on September 1, with the goal of improving client experience and reducing backlogs.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of modernising the immigration system. Fraser provided the most recent updates on how digitization is affecting operations at Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada from the IRCC processing centre in New Waterford, Nova Scotia (IRCC).
Certain in-Canada applicants exempt from medical exams
Fraser is exempting permanent and temporary residence applicants who are already in Canada from the immigration medical exam requirement in an effort to reduce wait times. This metric only applies to people who meet certain requirements. The criteria were not specified in the media release, nor was it stated when the measure would go into effect. According to IRCC, it will affect approximately 180,000 newcomers.
The release says the measure is intended to further reduce wait times and build on the hiring of 1,250 new employees to help increase processing capacity.
Immigration applications going 100% digital on September 23
On September 23, IRCC will begin the transition to 100% digital applications for most permanent residence programmes. People who require accommodations will have access to alternative formats.
This past January, the immigration department committed to digitising immigration applications. IRCC previously stated in an email to CIC News that the online application portal would be fully operational in the spring or summer of 2022.
More programs to have application status trackers
Seven more permanent and temporary residence programmes will have application status trackers, similar to the one launched in February for spousal, partner, and dependent child sponsorship applicants, by spring 2023. The citizenship application status tracker, which was launched for clients in May 2021, will be expanded this month to include access to representatives.
IRCC is also working to improve its online processing times tool to provide more accurate data. Beginning in the fall, IRCC will publish forecasts of how long it will take to process an application.
Modernizing Canadian citizenship
The IRCC will launch a tool in August 2021 that will allow certain citizenship applications to be submitted online. The tool is open for groups of adults 18 and up 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.
This year, Canada has admitted more than 217,000 new citizens, exceeding its citizenship goals for 2021-2022. From April 1 to July 31, this fiscal year, Canada has welcomed more than 116,000 new citizens, compared to 35,000 in the same period in 2021.
More than 300,000 new permanent residents so far in 2022
IRCC set a new record in 2021 by admitting more than 405,000 new permanent residents to Canada. Our goal for 2022 is to welcome 431,000 permanent residents, and we are well on our way. Canada had welcomed over 300,000 permanent residents as of August 22, surpassing the milestone earlier than in any previous year.