Canada has launched a new application tracker for family sponsorship candidates to check the status of their immigration file as it works its way through the system as part of efforts to shorten processing times.
“Last week, I outlined our plan to modernize Canada’s immigration system and lower wait times for people coming to live, visit, work, or study,” tweeted Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on Tuesday.
“Today, we deliver on the promise to launch a new digital Permanent Residence Application Tracker for family class applications.”
For the initial launch, the tracker will be available for permanent residence applicants in the spouse, partner and dependent child categories.
In its bid to deal with delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and speed up the processing of applications, Ottawa has moved its immigration application processes online. The average processing time for spousal sponsorship applicants has already gone back to the service standard of 12 months for new applications.
Family Sponsorship Applicants Can Check Application Status
Applicants for permanent residence in the family sponsorship categories are now able to use this tracker to check the status of their applications.
“This new tool will allow people to easily check their application status online, and is available for spousal, partners or dependent children categories,” tweeted Fraser. “We’re also working to provide a similar tracker for other programs.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made over 500,000 decisions on permanent resident applications last year.
Immigration officials expect to have made 147,000 permanent residence final decisions in the first quarter of this year, double what was done in the same period in 2021.
“With new tools and investments, we’ll continue to reunite families and make Canada the destination of choice for people from around the world,” tweeted Fraser.
During the pandemic, the IRCC introduced online testing, developed an online application tracker and launched virtual citizenship ceremonies.
In the past few months, Canadian immigration officials have been hosting roughly 350 virtual ceremonies per month, and more than 170,000 new Canadians have been sworn in since April 1, 2020.
Canada Moves To Virtual Citizenship Ceremonies During COVID-19
“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals. Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority for me,” said Fraser last month.
Canada remains bullish on immigration. After boosting its immigration level to a record high of 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, Ottawa is hoping to welcome 411,000 new permanent residents this year.
“Immigration benefits all Canadians,” said Fraser. “It helps grow our economy and strengthens our communities across the country.”
In its budget last year, the federal government in Canada pledged to invest $428.9 million over five years, with $398.5 million in remaining amortization, to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform to replace the IRCC’s legacy Global Case Management System. The government is touting this as a “secure, stable and flexible platform” that will “help improve application processing and support for applicants.”
In its Economic and Fiscal Update 2021, Ottawa also proposed $85 million in new funding to cut its backlog of immigration applications.
IRCC Hires More Staff and Uses More Advances Data Analytics
That investment is for additional support staff to help the country bring immigration application processing times – and the time to approve study permits, work permits and permanent resident card renewals – back in line with its service standards by the end of this year. The IRCC has already hired an extra 500 employees to do that work.
Canada is also making more use of advanced data analytics to pre-sort visitor visa applications, cutting the time needed to process them by 87 per cent.
“An IRCC officer will always make the final decision, but this system will improve client service by helping IRCC manage the increasing volume of visitor visa applications,” states the immigration department’s website.
In the Twitterverse, the immigration minister’s latest pledge to speed up and track applications was met with cautious optimism and a bit of worry about the current delays.
“Good job, sir. Congratulations. But, sir, people like us waiting for 26 months since 2019 … what will happen to our files? How much longer will we have to wait? At least, clear the backlog,” wrote one Twitter user.