Improving the process for work permit applications

  • August 31, 2022

The processing of work permits at visa offices is cause of concern and the Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association has suggestions on how to make it better. The Section, in a letter to Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, urges him to take immediate steps to improve processing time and procedures for Global Skills Strategy (GSS) and Outside Canada Work Permit Applications. Those steps are summarized below.

As the Section notes, processing times that stretch over 12 months affect Canada’s reputation and are detrimental to our competitiveness. It is crucial to improve processing standards quickly.

The first issue reported by CBA Section members is the difficulty they have communicating with visa offices to update information and documents. It can often take weeks for updates to be processed. Worse, some are left unanswered. And because files are often transferred by IRCC within its own network without notice, “counsel often does not know which office to contact to follow up about a long pending file.” This causes undue delays and errors.

The Section recommends setting a reasonable service standard to respond to inquiries, keeping counsel or applicants properly informed. This includes being more transparent about the when applications are processed and where the files are to be transferred.

Another issue is the discrepancies between certain countries when it comes to processing times. “Faster visa offices take one to two months to process, while others may take over 12 months,” the letter says. Given that IRCC operates within a Global Case Management and a Centralized Network of resources, it would make sense to distribute the workload outside the regions where applications originate to reduce the disparity in processing times globally. Posted processing times on the IRCC website should be accurate to ensure transparency for employers who seek temporary foreign workers.

The letter concludes by urging IRCC “to prioritize the reduction of Work Permit processing times for visa offices and set service standards for communication messages with the visa offices and GSS processing teams. We stress that the lack of transparency and communication, and inequitable processing times undermine the principal objectives of IRPA and deserve immediate attention.”