A Look at Recent Parliamentary Recommendations to Improve Canada’s Immigration System
Although considered one of the best in the world, Canada’s immigration system still has room for improvement. To fully meet the needs of applicants and improve their experience with the system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must continue to review and update its system, especially with how it communicates with applicants. IRCC should make its system more inclusive of all applicants and their diverse social and economic needs. An immigration lawyer in Canada can help those who need assistance with the immigration application process.
The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recently released a report with recommendations to improve the Canadian immigration system. Canada needs to modernize its system to meet the various demands of all immigrants, including the more than 300,000 immigrants expected to settle in Canada this year. To do so, Canada should look at the world’s best immigration systems, analyze key service performance indicators, and consider the standing committee’s recommendations.
Here are a few key recommendations the committee made, along with ideas for implementation:
Improve Call Centre Communication
The standing committee’s report recommends retraining staff to communicate better with non-English or French speakers. It also recommends having an interpreter available upon request. Staff should also receive specialist training for various immigration cases, such as: temporary residence, permanent residence, citizenship, refugees, and passports.
Need For a More User-Friendly Website
The report recommends that the IRCC website be accessible in additional languages other than English and French, use plain language, and offer virtual assistance. The ‘My Account’ section of the website should also be updated to make it easier to track and print applications, maintain a complete record of applications, and to link paper applications with applicants’ online accounts.
Improve Client Experience
Removing language barriers and financial barriers is essential for being more inclusive in the immigration process. Another recommendation is to allow alternative forms of payment for applications (i.e. applicants could pay at a bank if they can’t pay online with a credit card since not all applicants will have credit cards).
Periodic review and revision are necessary for application forms. This keeps them easy to understand and navigate, ensures they’re up to date with the current immigration system, and helps evaluate and correct common errors found on applications. If an application is rejected, it’s important to provide applicants rational, transparent, and justifiable reasons for the negative decision.
IRCC should also contact applicants through e-mail and other channels when: the application has common errors on it; payment was made incorrectly; and when processing times extend beyond the original estimate given to applicants at the time of application.
Other important recommendations include:
- Increase pre-arrival service sessions;
- Establish service standards and processing times, and publish these on the IRCC website;
- Include automatic client service feedback forms for applications
- Consult with current and past clients, service experts, and Canadians on how to improve client services;
- Establish a “Reconsideration Committee” to handle reconsideration requests within 15 days of an applicant’s negative decision; and
- Consider the cost-benefit analysis of regional immigration offices for in-person services.
These recommendations can make the immigration system more inclusive to the diverse needs of applicants. Improvements to communication, (online, by phone, and in person) will make the immigration process easier and reduce stress and uncertainty. This is especially true for those facing language barriers.