CIMM - Processing, Volumes and Backlogs - Nov 25, 2020
- The global pandemic has had significant impacts on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) operations, both domestically and internationally, as well as service providers that are integral to the delivery of our programs. To minimize the impact on clients, IRCC has adopted innovative procedures and practices to continue our operations, including making strides in processing more application virtually, while emphasizing safety and security.
- Although public-facing service providers such as visa application centres around the world have had to temporarily close, IRCC has been working closely with these service providers to gradually reopen their doors while respecting public health measures and local conditions.
- We are managing application inventory by prioritizing applications from vulnerable people, people seeking to reunite with their family, and people who perform or support essential services. Here are a few things we have achieved:
- The weekly production rate of processing permanent resident applications has almost tripled the last few months with over 7,200 final decisions being made the week of October 24 compared to 2,700 for the week of August 22.
- To date, IRCC has processed nearly 79% of our current application targets for final decisions in 2020 (258,500).
- IRCC has also introduced a number of measures to facilitate clients, including extending submission deadlines for clients who are unable to provide required documents due to the effects of COVID-19 restrictions. Such measures have impacted our operations, including overall processing times for applications as the department is allowing more time to clients to submit the required documentation.
- IRCC established processing priorities by type of application/business line which enabled us to shift resources while adapting to new operational environments.
- For example, at the onset of the pandemic, IRCC’s operations focused on critical services while transitioning our processing capacity to work remotely. Our critical services include:
- Temporary residence including in-Canada extensions, seasonal agricultural workers, essential and vulnerable workers
- Permanent residence including spousal (in-Canada and those who are travel ban exempt), Express Entry (Canada Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program), permanent resident travel document and humanitarian and compassionate
- Refugee/asylum including asylum claims received by email, privately sponsored refugees and Urgent Protection Program
- Citizenship including urgent proofs of citizenship and the implementation of virtual ceremonies
- Passport including urgent travel documents
- Over the spring and summer months, IRCC equipped its officers with the tools to support remote processing where possible, partially reinstating our operational capacity both in Canada and abroad.
- As of October 2020, 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 reintegration efforts in all lines of business by gradually increasing access to worksites for employees whose work cannot be done remotely, and to support file distribution to remote workers. We are also offering limited in-person services for citizenship, permanent residence, and asylum lines of business (as of October 2020).
- We rely on the agility of our workforce as we continue to, at reduced capacity, accept new applications, manage existing application inventories, as well as implement new processes such as the issuance of written authorization (travel restriction exemption letters) and two-stage processing for study permit applicants.
- We have implemented adaptive measures to extend submission deadlines for clients who face delays due to COVID-19 restrictions. In other words, no application in progress will be closed or refused as a result of ongoing service disruptions related to COVID-19.
- While an important step to support our clients, this measure will further extend our processing times and has already led to increased inventories, as applications with missing documents remain open. In spite of these challenges, the department will continue its work to adapt and explore options to digitize its operations in an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our operations.
Supporting family reunification
- While the Government has taken measures to close the border to the non-essential movement of persons in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians and Canadian residents, exceptions have been in place since March.
- Clients who may be allowed to travel to Canada through existing border-related exemptions include immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, such as spouses, common-law partners, dependent children or parents or step-parents. Extended family members, including grandparents, are also allowed to travel to Canada provided they receive authorization from IRCC.
- The Department has also introduced a pilot to digitize spousal applications which will facilitate the review of these applications, allowing officers in Canada and abroad to process them remotely.
- IRCC has also increased the number of decision-makers on spousal applications in Canada by 66%, to process spousal applications more quickly and reduce couples’ wait times, between June and September.
- With these initiatives, IRCC aims to accelerate, prioritize and finalize approximately 6,000 spousal applications each month from October until December 2020. Combined with processing from January to September, this rate will lead to about 49,000 decisions by the end of this year.
- Since March 13, 2020, offices in Canada and migration offices located outside of Canada have been affected to varying degrees by the global pandemic. Most have undergone an interruption in service, which has limited IRCC’s capacity to conduct in-person services such as client interviews, biometrics collection, validation of supporting documents and identity to support the finalization of applications.
- Capacity for immigration medical exams was limited due to the closure of missions and reduced capacity of some panel physician clinics. However, currently over 95% of panel physicians globally are open to receive clients.
- International travel restrictions, border closures and inability on the part of clients to obtain documentation due to the effects of COVID‑19 has created additional barriers within the processing continuum and hindered IRCC’s ability to finalize applications.
- The unpredictable nature of the status of public health measures and regional variants (i.e. loosening and re-imposition of restrictions due to additional waves of COVID-19 infections) has also impacted our operations.
- Processing challenges for applications outside of Canada include access to paper files; however, we’ve introduced Ministerial Instructions which require online applications for temporary resident visas, work permits and study permits until Jan 31, 2021 (exceptions for those with disabilities who cannot do so).
- IRCC continues to depend on service providers to support program and service delivery to many clients (biometric enrollment, security screening partners, and visa applications centres). As with any other large scale response, efforts continue to be aligned at all levels of government in Canada and abroad.
Innovation during COVID
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is innovating and evolving how we do business. We’ve revisited some policies and have implemented ways to adapt to the current situation and create flexibility to respond to the circumstances.
- Thanks to live, video-conferenced virtual citizenship ceremonies using the commonly-used conferencing platform, over 42,000 clients became new citizens between April 1, 2020, and October 31, 2020.
- The use of foil-less visa travel for temporary workers is now available for some clients who are not able to have a physical visa issued into their passport.
- A public policy has been implemented to enable officers to grant permanent resident status to approved in-Canada applicants without requiring those individuals to be present for an in-person interview at an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada office.
- Digitization projects are helping us upload thousands of paper files to the Global Case Management System for remote processing across the network.
- Virtual interviews were implemented in key areas for permanent resident applications, such as the in-Canada Spouse and Common-Law Partner stream.
- IRCC has implemented E-Post connect for some business processes, which is a secure, confidential and timely messaging system used to communicate and exchange forms and documents.
- To provide an example on the usage of E-post, since July 2020, we have received over 8,200 in-Canada asylum claimant forms digitally via e-post.
- In addition, we have also developed an alternative approach to allow clients to travel to Canada using their expired Confirmation of Permanent Residence document along with an authorization letter from IRCC. The letter advises that the Confirmation’s validity has been extended in the Global Case Management System but not reprinted.
Volumes and inventories
- At the outset of the pandemic COVID-19 severely hindered service delivery for the permanent resident program, and international travel restrictions continue to impact IRCC’s ability to finalize applications and land clients. This will continue to effect processing times which are expected to increase for all lines of business.
- IRCC continues to accept and process permanent resident and temporary resident applications, though we recognize that service disruptions and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have an impact on inventories and processing times.
- As of the end of October, there were 447,540 persons in the processing inventory: 105,560 in the Family Class, 199,240 in the Economic Class, 115,180 in the Asylum and Refugees Class, and 27,560 in the Humanitarian & Compassionate and Other categories.
- Currently there are 36.3K clients in the landing inventory, with 3.4K residing in Canada. Only about 51% of all approved overseas clients (16.8K) have a valid permanent resident visa to travel and/or are eligible to land (exempt from border restrictions).
- Since COVID, inventory levels have increased. Processing times have also increased and are expected to increase further depending on how long it takes production to fully return to “business as usual”.
- Shortfalls from 2020 levels are planned to be made up across the recently tabled Multi-Year Levels Plan 2021-2023.
- Study permit application inventory has increased from 35K to 118.7K (239% increase) between April 1, 2020, and Oct 30, 2020.
- Work permit application inventory has increased from 35K to 55K (57% increase) between April 1, 2020, and Oct 30, 2020.
Visa Application Centres
Visa application centres are private companies that have formal contracts with the Government of Canada. They:
- securely send applications and passport to the visa office
- are official locations to give biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) outside Canada
- are located around the world
- speak local languages
Clients may go to a visa application centre that isn’t in their country of residence, and can either call, email, or visit the centre in person.
All visa application centres also:
- accept applications for study permits, work permits, temporary resident visas, and travel documents for permanent residents
- help applicants complete their application
- securely return passport and decision documents
- provide access to a computer to apply online
- provide application photograph and photocopy services
- give updates via text message
- accept payment of application fee
- use courier service to return applications
IRCC migration offices are located in Canadian embassies, high commissions and consulates. They process applications for:
- permanent immigration
- visitor visas (temporary resident visas)
- study permits
- work permits
- refugee resettlement
- travel documents for permanent residents abroad
They also conduct interviews when needed.
Migration offices also engage in migration diplomacy: building and managing relationships in the international sphere to advance and protect Canada’s migration-related objectives and to advocate for Canada’s position on issues of strategic importance.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: