Ottawa: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has taken great strides towards improving its clients’ service experience. A reduction in backlogs and processing times is a cornerstone of that work.
On Monday, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, highlighted some of the substantial improvements that IRCC has made over the past year.
IRCC has been able to reduce backlogs significantly and make family reunification a priority, thanks to a historic multi-year immigration levels plan. For example, the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) inventory was reduced from a high of 62,000 in May 2014, to less than 12,000 by April 2018. We are on track to meet our 2017 commitment to process at least 80% of the remaining LCP backlog by the end of 2018, and are processing new LCP permanent residence applications within 12 months.
IRCC also recently began using an improved method to estimate processing times for some new permanent residence applications.
In addition, we reduced the spousal sponsorship inventory from a high of 75,000 to 15,000 as of December 31, 2017, and are processing new spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months. To help spouses further, we extended the Open Work Permit Pilot for spousal sponsorship applicants and simplified the guides and checklists.
We also made changes to the Citizenship Act that give more flexibility to citizenship applicants to meet the requirements for Canadian citizenship and encourage more immigrants to take the path to citizenship.
This year we also helped workers and students. In June we celebrated the successful first year of the Global Skills Strategy, which has supported Canada’s economy and benefited 10,000 highly skilled workers and more than 100 employers. We also launched the Student Direct Stream to help students from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam get their study permits faster.
Other substantial improvements include:
- We partnered on new initiatives to better support Francophone immigration, such as the creation of a new Francophone Immigration Policy hub to support the Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration Outside of Quebec. We also improved Francophone immigration services at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
- We changed our medical inadmissibility policy to ensure that our immigration policies better reflect the importance that the Government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- IRCC increased its presence in China, with 7 new visa application centres.
- To continue supporting clients applying from overseas, we plan to add additional visa applications centres internationally in 2018 and 2019.
- We changed the definition of the age of dependants from “under 19” to “under 22”, to enable more families stay together in Canada.
- We invested in an innovative pilot project to employ up to 1,300 newcomers in sustainable, long-term jobs in the hotel industry.
- We continue to meet the 6-month processing time for Express Entry applications in the Federal Skilled Worker Program and Canadian Experience Class.
In the next 12 months, IRCC is planning improvements to offer clients more self-service options online. New initiatives will be implemented, such as expansion of online applications and adding new functionalities to clients’ online accounts. We will continue to improve how we communicate anticipated processing times, so they make more sense to clients.
As we consider these improvements, we continue to actively listen to our clients and are approaching these changes with their comments and concerns in mind.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said: “IRCC has made great progress in the past few years with these larger initiatives that will positively impact many of our clients. But what we’ve learned in speaking to our clients is that sometimes even tiny interventions in the journey can have a big impact. We are committed to improving our programs and are rethinking the way we provide services. We know that we can do things better and we are committed to doing that”.