CIMM - Status of Operations, Programs and Services - June 2, 2021
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to maintain our operations and deliver our services through a combination of remote and on-site delivery.
Our reintegration and resumption strategy has proven successful to ensure that our worksites remain safe for our employees and clients. It has also allowed us to take necessary steps to focus on priorities and improve client services in the current context.
We continue to follow public health guidance and our top priority continues to be the health and safety of Canadians, employees and our clients.
Status of IRCC offices and service providers
Since March 13, 2020, offices in Canada and migration offices located outside of Canada have been affected to varying degrees by the global pandemic.
Over the past year, all offices experienced service interruptions at different times, which has limited the Department’s capacity to receive and process applications received by mail, conduct in-person services such as client interviews, biometrics collection, validation of supporting documents and identity to support the finalization of applications.
Although nearly all IRCC offices and service providers in Canada are open, some are operating at lower capacity.
Client service remains our departmental focus. Priority is therefore being placed on critical in-person services such as biometrics collection and eligibility interviews to support the asylum intake process. Permanent Resident (PR) Card pick-up, however, has been paused until offices are removed from critical status.
Although lockdowns have affected some of the more than 500 service providers under the Settlement Program, critical in-person services for vulnerable newcomer populations remain open (e.g. setting up medical appointments, supports to address mental health or gender-based violence), with other services being delivered remotely.
The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa is also under lockdown, with no on-site capacity, however, nearly all functions are being performed remotely.
Some 97% of IRCC offices in embassies and consulates remain open. As of May 4, 2021, of the 59 IRCC offices, only two are closed. These are in Bangalore and Chandigarh, India, due to health restrictions, given the seriousness of the pandemic in the country.
Our network of overseas Visa Application Centres (VAC) consists of 164 locations in 108 countries. As of May 4, 2021, 12 were fully open and 124 were offering partial services (reduced hours and/or limited services). Five are offering back-office services (i.e. passport submission and/or return), and 23 are closed, including the 10 VACs in India. Those numbers fluctuate frequently due to changes in local COVID-19 restrictions.
The Department has equipped its officers with the tools to support remote processing where possible, reinstating most of our operational capacity both in Canada and abroad.
While continuing to follow guidelines and recommendations set by the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial and local public health authorities, the Department has moved forward with business resumption efforts in all lines of business.
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.
Guidelines incorporate direction from Canadian public health authorities, in addition to local health requirements which vary widely.
Our resurgence readiness protocol includes a 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.
If pressed: No known cases of COVID-19 have been caused through transmission at an IRCC office.
Although significant progress has been made, business resumption to pre- COVID-19 levels has not yet been achieved, which has has impacts on processing times (see “Note #5: Impacts on Processing”).
Bringing processing times within service standards will take time as IRCC and clients in Canada and abroad continue to face pandemic-related challenges in supporting the processing of applications. The Department will continue to closely monitor and report publicly on service standard adherence.
If Pressed: Processing times are measured from the time we receive the application to the time that we finalize it. Given that borders have been closed since March 2020, we have not been able to finalize a large number of files. Meeting processing time standards will largely depend on how quickly we can finalize these files.
Business resumption plans will continue to be impacted by uncertainties and challenges such as:
Lockdowns impacting processing capacity in Canada and overseas and slowing office reintegration;
Travel restrictions, testing requirements, quarantine and other restrictions; and,
Despite these challenges, the Department is pursuing a wide of array of strategies and innovative approaches across all lines of business to resume activities and achieve targets.
For example, the Department has created a virtual processing office to support permanent residence processing capacity, provide surge capacity to mitigate disruptions to processing for offices outside of Canada and act as an incubator/test site for innovation.
In addition, on May 6, 2021, the Department launched a new pathway to permanent residency for over 90,000 essential temporary resident workers and international graduates already in Canada. This pathway leverages a new digital portal that allows clients to apply online and for applications to be processed remotely.
Acknowledgement of receipt
IRCC has been working diligently to get the inventory of paper applications out of the mailroom into the system. The Department is currently working towards sending an acknowledgement of receipt (AoR) to clients who have applied for permanent residency or citizenship, to inform them that their application has been received. A modified AoR is sent to applicants when their application has been partially entered into the system, and an official AoR is sent to applicants when their application is fully entered into the departmental system.
The Department is working towards ensuring that clients under these paper lines of business will receive a modified AoR or an official AoR within 10 weeks of submission. By June 30, 2021, it is expected that 90%* of permanent residence and citizenship lines of business will receive an acknowledgment within 10 weeks of submission.