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Summing up IRCC efforts to modernize immigration to Canada


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Posted on Nov 17, 2022 at 08:00 am EST

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) presented these IRCC Digital Modernization slides to immigration representatives, including the Bar Association of Canada Immigration Law Section at a meeting on October 12, 2022.

What follows is an overview designed to provide a look at the steps IRCC is taking to modernize application management systems.

Why Canada has prioritized improving its immigration systems

Canada recognizes that it is crucial to the country’s prosperity that they work to change the application management systems for Canada’s immigration programs. In a January 2022 press release, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said:

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

“I know that the processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many people. Helping customers get to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority. Immigration benefits all Canadians: it helps grow our economy and strengthens our communities across the country. Many people are choosing Canada as the place to visit and build their future, and to ensure we remain competitive, we have introduced concrete measures to ensure that those who want to come to Canada have the customer experience they deserve.”

The steps IRCC is taking to modernize immigration to Canada

Accordingly, Canada is taking the following steps to change application administration systems across Canadian immigration to meet the nation’s goals of faster processing times and more efficient communication for clients.

1. Financial Investment

  • In the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, Canada proposed $85 million in new funding to reduce application inventories
  • As part of the 2021 budget, Canada invested $428.9 million over 5 years, with $398.5 million in remaining payback “to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform that would gradually replace the Global Case Management System (GCMS).” inherited from IRCC”.

2. Expanding the use of advanced data analytics

  • Using data analytics regarding visitor visas has so far shown that routine files can be assessed 87% faster.

3. Allow more applicants to use the digital application portal

  • So far, specifically for spousal sponsorship applicants, application processing has reverted to the 12-month service standard for new applications.
  • IRCC began its transition to 100% digital applications for permanent residency programs in September 2022, with alternate formats still available for individuals who require accommodations

4. Introduction of the Permanent Residence Application Tracker

5. Online System for Receiving Permanent Resident Cards

  • Between June and December 2021, 225,000 permanent residents have already used this portal

6. Developments for Citizenship Applicants

These developments include:

  • online tests
  • An online application submission/tracking system
  • Virtual Citizenship Ceremonies
  • Allow interested candidates to self-administer their oath by signed certificate and then celebrate their citizenship

7. Update of existing procedures

IRCC is working for:

  • Update the online processing time tool and start posting forward-looking estimates of application processing times
  • Exempting certain applicants from requiring an immigration medical exam
  • Conducting more phone and video interviews for some programs, including expanding the availability of virtual interviews at our overseas offices and even at some visa application centers.


With a first phase beginning in December 2020, IRCC has established the following three-phase timeline for full implementation of its digital program modernization plan:

Phase 1: Stabilize (December 2020 to November 2021)

  • Focus: “Stabilize the GCMS until a new platform can be delivered in phase three”

Phase 2: Standardize (December 2021 to March 2023)

  • Focus: “Establish cloud foundations to support capabilities to be delivered in phase three”

Phase 3: Improvement (April 2023 to December 2026)

  • Focus: Offer a new digital operating platform and enable activities to ensure [IRCC] is ‘digital ready’

Expected results

In general, the above measures will decrease request processing times and provide a more efficient two-way communication capability for customers.

The following are more specific expected results and benefits that applicants will enjoy as a result of the improvements that Canada is working to achieve.

  • More flexibility with interviews/application processing
  • Improved application processing and support
  • Provide better estimates of expected request processing times
  • Reduced waiting times
  • Allow the hiring of additional staff for application processing
  • Assist officers in classifying and processing visitor visa applications submitted from outside of Canada
  • Help IRCC manage the growing volume of requests
  • Minimize COVID-19 related delays associated with processing paper applications
  • Provide customers with immediate confirmation of successful application submission
  • Provide easier access to application information and online status updates
  • Help applicants save time and money in the medical exam process
  • Allow applicants to plan their immigration journey through greater predictability

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