Earlier this month the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) began a study on IRCC’s application processing times and backlogs.
The purpose of CIMM is to provide oversight of the immigration system and release studies that contain recommendations for improvement. CIMM invited me to Ottawa to participate in this study, which I did on May 5th. I would like to use this article as an opportunity to elaborate on my recommendations.
The backlog has doubled since the start of the pandemic to 2.1 million people. This includes applicants for permanent residence, temporary residence, and citizenship. Needless to say, the backlog is hurting Canada’s economy, keeping families apart, and undermining Canada’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.
There is no doubt the pandemic has been a major contributor to the backlog. At the start of the pandemic, Canadian government employees needed to work remotely which limited their ability to process applications. However, the pandemic is not the only reason for the backlog, and at the very least, the pandemic cannot explain why Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has delivered such poor customer service for over two years now.
The following are six steps I feel can help improve the state of Canadian immigration operations.
1) Treat applicants with greater respect
The first step Canada needs to take to avoid backlogs from getting out of control again in the future is by treating all of its immigration applicants with far more respect. When we discuss backlogs, we often think about the number of files in the queue, and sometimes we forget about the number of human lives that are being negatively affected.
Taking a more human-centric approach to our immigration system is a necessary step towards progress. There is no justification for IRCC going months or even years on end without responding to enquiries from its clients. The lack of urgency to provide updates also explains why there has been a lack of urgency to process applications.
For some reason, we do not see immigration applicants as worthy enough of getting quality customer service, even though IRCC has a legal mandate to process applications. It is only fair that applicants get quality service given they are required to pay IRCC a fee for their papers to be processed. Imagine how upset you would be if you paid a postal company to deliver a parcel, only to discover they have yet to ship it and are not responding to any of your calls or emails.
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Source: CIC News, Kareem El-Assal, 20 mai 2022