Canada will revamp how they process immigration applications as the government prepares for an immigration surge post-pandemic.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is expecting a substantial increase in immigration applications that will put a significant demand on their global operations and supporting branches.

Canada is still committed to processing newcomer and visitor applications.

As such, IRCC is in dire need to improve on the current processing system which includes old computer systems and paper applications.

IRCC is looking to act quickly to develop new digital systems and strategies that would help the rapid change it is expecting post-pandemic, according to a tender request posted on the Canadian government’s website. 

The tender request is to find a vendor that can help IRCC develop the way in which it processes immigration applications. 

Immigration to Canada has slowed significantly since restrictions on non-essential travel were put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  

Some exceptions to the travel restrictions included travel deemed essential, such as transportation of food and medical goods. In addition, some temporary foreign workers and international students could come to Canada. 

Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are exempt from travel restrictions are now able to obtain temporary resident visas (TRVs) or electronic travel authorizations (eTA). 

However, many people remain unable to come to Canada, including refugees and applicants who were approved for permanent residence after March 16, 2020. 

Since the travel restrictions were put in place, IRCC has carried out program-specific Express Entry draws to people who are more likely to already be in Canada. This include Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. 

IRCC has been alternating between PNP-only draws and CEC-only draws since the restrictions were put in place on March 18, 2020, holding thirteen draws so far. 

Many immigration related operations have been scaled down. This includes the collection of biometrics as well as in-person interviews. In addition, many private Visa Application Centres (VACs) remain closed, although some VACs are gradually resuming limited services.  

Citizenship ceremonies were also suspended. However, newcomers who had their ceremonies postponed will soon take their oath of citizenship online. 

In addition to slowed immigration operations, IRCC is also facing challenges while maintaining physical distancing protocols that make it difficult to process many applications. This is especially true for applications that require in-person interviews or documents that candidates have found difficult to obtain. 

The government had planned to welcome over a million new immigrants by the end of 2022. Although the immigration levels have slowed in 2020, Canada still views immigration as vital to its economy, according to immigration minister Marco Mendicino. 

So far this year, 46,000 individuals were invited to apply for permanent residence. Even with travel restrictions in place, this number exceeds the invitations issued at the same time last year. 

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