BlogPROCESSING ALERT:  IRCC moves to go fully digital!

7 September 2022

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In an effort to both modernize and expedite the processing of immigration applications, Canada’s department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is transitioning to online processing of most permanent resident applications. On September 1, 2022, IRCC Minister Sean Fraser announced that starting from September 23, 2022, permanent residence applications will be going digital with a staggered implementation schedule. This announcement has both positive and negative implications.

IRCC has been moving towards a digital implementation process for many years starting with inland temporary applications for students, workers and visitors extending their status from within Canada. More recently they have introduced portals for making a broader range of applications including Express Entry applications for permanent residence which encompasses Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Trades (FST) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applications. Building upon their experience with the digital platform, they are now moving forward to being fully online for permanent residence processing.

However, the news is not all positive. The introduction of the online portals has been fraught with difficulty for many, many months. The portals are frequently not operating properly such that applications can not be submitted. This has serious consequences for applicants facing deadlines for submitting their applications. Immigration professionals, who submit immigration applications for a living, are often stymied as to how to deal with the challenges of the IRCC on line portal system. Good luck to the neophyte applicants submitting their own applications. Also consider the challenges for those who are not computer proficient. IRCC recognizes that not everyone globally is able to either access a digital platform or has the technological infrastructure to be able to submit an online application and has made provisions for people to contact them to request an alternate format. The Minister’s announcement does not provide any information as to how to pursue such a request.

Another issue for consideration is how to maintain a copy of the application and documentation that is submitted. Frequently, in their zeal to have their application uploaded as quickly as possible, individuals hit the “SEND” button without thinking about how to maintain a copy, or “proof”, of what has been submitted. This can have serious consequences when there is a dispute as to the outcome of an application. Savvy applicants will be sure to save a screen shot of everything that is ultimately uploaded in support of their application.

The Minister’s announcement provides a 5-week schedule to integrate virtually all PR applications to an on-line process. (For a list of the full schedule please see this link:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2022/08/transitioning-to-online-applications-for-permanent-residence.html#shr-pg0).

While the goal of being more efficient and expedient is laudable, recent experience suggests that IRCC’s online processing system is not all that it should be. Applicants would be wise to proceed with caution and to give themselves additional time to submit their applications when things don’t work as they should. Minister Fraser, please take note!

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