Immigration Section recommends improvements to IRCC case processing

  • January 25, 2021

Months-long delays in the processing of immigration claims, and the IRCC Case Processing Centres’ habit of returning those claims unprocessed for petty or erroneous reasons, is more than a source of frustration of applicants and their lawyers, it can also have detrimental effects on an individual’s eligibility for a program, or ability to work in Canada.

In a submission to the IRCC, the CBA’s Immigration Law Section details a number of cases where applicants and their representatives were kept waiting for months for even an acknowledgement of receipt of the application, only to have it returned because minor information was missing – in one case, for lack of a postal code identified in a country that does not have postal codes.

Most of the applications in question were under the Family Class and Spouse in Canada Class, and some were applications for permanent residence under economic classes, the Section said.

“The lack of communication from CPCs or updates on the status of applications from IRCC has been stressful for applicants and their lawyers,” the Section said.

“The return of unprocessed applications after delays causes serious harm that in many cases cannot be remedied,” it added, noting that applicants may lose their status and implied authorization to work, access to vital social services, or the ability to sponsor their children who turned 22 years old and no longer meet the statutory definition of dependent children.

The Section notes, however, that reasons for this situation are avoidable and under IRCC’s control. It makes a number of recommendations for improving service, including:

  • Offering ongoing education to staff responsible for assessing the completeness of applications about the policy that applications with missing information should not be immediately rejected;
  • Giving applicants time to supply the missing information;
  • Informing applicants (or their authorized representatives) within 30 days of receipt of the application that documents or information is missing, and of the deadline to send them;
  • Allocating sufficient resources to promptly screen applications;
  • Offering refresher training to CPC processing staff on the importance of carefully screening for completeness;
  • Being fair and flexible in determining whether the absence of certain details or documents renders them incomplete – for example, an omitted postal code or unchecked box where the answer is obvious does not impede the assessment of an application for eligibility, credibility or admissibility;
  • Taking additional steps to remedy cases where applications were returned in error.