On September 1, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser introduced new online services across Canada’s immigration system, intended to improve client experience and reduce the backlogs.
The pandemic highlighted the need for a modernized immigration system. From the IRCC processing centre in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Fraser announced the latest updates on how digitization is affecting operations at Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Here are the new developments for newcomers and future citizens.
Certain in-Canada applicants exempt from medical exams
In an effort to reduce wait times, Fraser is exempting permanent and temporary residence applicants who are already in Canada from the immigration medical exam requirement. This measure only applies to people who meet certain criteria. The media release did not specify the criteria, nor when the measure would take effect. IRCC expects it to impact about 180,000 newcomers.
Canada had previously waived the medical exam requirement between June 2021 and March 2022.
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 September 23
IRCC will begin transitioning to 100% digital applications for most permanent residence programs on September 23. Alternative formats will be available for people who require accommodations.
The immigration department committed to making immigration applications digital this past January. IRCC previously told CIC News in an email it expected the online application portal to be fully implemented in the spring or summer of 2022.
More programs to have application status trackers
By spring 2023, seven more permanent residence and temporary residence programs will have application status trackers like the one launched in February for spousal, partner and dependent child sponsorship applicants. The citizenship application status tracker that launched for clients in May 2021 will be expanded to include access to representatives sometime this month.
Also, IRCC is improving its online processing times tool to provide more accurate information. Starting in the fall, IRCC will publish forward-looking estimates of how long it will take to process an application.
Modernizing Canadian citizenship
In August 2021, IRCC launched a tool that allows certain citizenship applications to be submitted online. The tool is open to allow groups of adults age 18 and older to apply together. IRCC intends to expand this tool to offer online applications for minors under the age of 18 by the end of the year.
So far this year, Canada has exceeded its citizenship goals for 2021-2022, admitting more than 217,000 new citizens. So far this fiscal year, from April 1 to July 31, 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
In 2021, IRCC set a historic record by admitting more than 405,000 new permanent residents to Canada. Our target for 2022 is to welcome 431,000 permanent residents, and we are well on our way to achieving it. As of August 22, we have welcomed over 300,000 permanent residents to Canada, surpassing the milestone earlier than in any previous year.
“Immigration is about people. It’s about starting a new job, reuniting a family and creating a new life in this beautiful country we call home,” Fraser said in the release. “As we look to strengthen our immigration system by updating our technology, people—our clients—must be at the centre of all that we do. By adding resources where they are needed, and leveraging technology to make processing faster and applying easier for our clients, we can give newcomers and new citizens the welcoming experience they deserve.”