CIMM – Status of Operations, Programs and Services – February 15 & 17, 2022
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) operations continue to be affected by pandemic-related challenges such as employees working remotely and travel restrictions both in Canada and abroad.
Within Canada, all lines of business are operational, and all IRCC offices and service providers are open, but limited to up to 30% in-person capacity for both employees and clients. The vast majority of staff are, however, currently working remotely given the current context.
Overseas, as of January 7, 2022, 98% of our missions are open. Also, 96% of our visa application centres (VACs) are open and offering biometrics collection, and 98% of panel physicians’ clinics are open to the public and offering Immigration Medical Exams (IMEs). IRCC’s operations continue to adapt as conditions evolve with Omicron.
Despite these challenges, IRCC continues to make great strides, including making close to 507,000 final decisions for permanent resident (PR) applications in 2021, thanks to a combination of remote and on-site delivery and processing innovations. The Department is working diligently to work through the inventory of applications and reduce processing times.
IRCC has modernized significantly over the last few years to offer digital intake in many lines of business, and is digitizing paper inventories, allowing our workforce to work remotely. Also IRCC continues to expand the use of innovative tools such as advanced analytics to support application processing.
Canada needs immigration to drive our economy, help address labour shortages and keep our communities thriving. IRCC must keep improving our operations and services so Canada can attract more immigrants and visitors and remain globally competitive.
Status of IRCC offices and service providers in Canada
Clients can also now access many services and information remotely through the IRCC website, web forms, and tools such as MyAccount and the Citizenship Status Tracker Application.
Of more than 500 service providers under the Settlement Program, critical in-person services for vulnerable newcomer populations continue to remain open (e.g. setting up medical appointments, supports to address mental health or gender-based violence), with other services being delivered remotely.
Status of IRCC offices and service providers abroad
Most IRCC offices and service providers abroad are open, but with limited in-person capacity due to local restrictions. The vast majority of staff are currently working remotely and the in-office activities are mostly functions and tasks that cannot be performed virtually.
Visa application centres (VACs): As of January 7, 2022, 155 of 162 (96%) are open to the public offering biometrics collection, among other services. Seven VACs are closed to the public, of which one is offering back-office work (i.e. passport submission and/or return).
Over 90% of the VAC network has been open to the public for biometrics collection since December 2020. As VACs reopen, IRCC closely monitors client behaviour, inventory backlogs, VAC capacities, and local restrictions to ensure resumption of good quality and prompt client service.
Immigration Medical Exams (IMEs): The vast majority of panel physicians’ clinics are now open to the public (566 out of 577 or 98%) offering IMEs.
Office closures and restrictions are assessed regularly. IRCC continues to follow public health guidance and our top priority continues to be the health and safety of Canadians, employees and our clients.
IRCC has modernized its operations in the last 22 months to ensure that the majority of the work could be done remotely by employees, and that clients could access services without having to come physically to one of our offices, when possible.
The pandemic presented challenges to receive and process applications submitted by mail, conduct in-person services such as client interviews, biometrics collection, validation of supporting documents and identity to support the finalization of applications. Some of those services cannot be done remotely, and those services have resumed in respect of federal and local heath directives. IRCC is also monitoring clients’ behavior as business resumes.
IRCC has equipped its officers with the tools to support remote processing where possible, reinstating most of our operational capacity both in Canada and abroad.
Our business resumption strategy ensures engagement with clients, employees, unions, the Occupational Health and Safety Committee, service provider organizations and other stakeholders such as Global Affairs Canada that is responsible for safety in the workplace at Canadian diplomatic missions abroad.
Our pandemic response includes a cross-Canada monitoring system that captures pandemic conditions and their impact in different regions and offices.
The Department has established a protocol for responding to in-office cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of employees and clients.
No known cases of COVID-19 have been caused through transmission at an IRCC office.