April 24, 2017 – A new parliamentary committee report has made 24 recommendations on how the Canada immigration system can improve.
Improvements in areas including the call centre, website, explaining why applications were rejected and simplification of forms are all covered in the document, presented by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
With Canada on track to welcome a modern-era record number of more than 300,000 immigrants in 2017, the report says modernization is needed to keep pace with Canada’s immigration rivals.
It calls for monitoring of best practices in Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and New Zealand, thought of among the world’s best immigration systems.
Several of the recommendations relate to the call centre, calling for the retraining of staff on how to communicate with non-English or French speakers.
It should be easier for applicants to request an interpreter, the report says, and a 15-minute standard for connection to an advisor should be established.
Call centre staff should also be given specialist training in areas ranging from temporary and permanent residence to refugee and citizenship cases.
Canada Immigration Website Changes
The report calls for a number of changes to the IRCC Canada immigration website.
This includes a more user-friendly website with more simple language and access to languages other than English or French. It also calls for virtual assistance to be implemented.
The ‘My Account’ section should be overhauled to allow better tracking of an application and the ability to print applications more easily.
A clear explanation of why a specific application is rejected should also be available, the report suggests.
Meanwhile, the immigration application forms need to be fully reviewed and simplified to meet the current need of the immigration system, and be easier for candidates to navigate.
The report also calls for the creation of a trusted employer program to allow fast track processing, although this is already set to happen under the Global Talent Stream due to be launched in June.
Number of Changes
The report comes as the federal government is in the midst of making a number of changes to the Canada immigration system.
Changes to the Canada Express Entry System were made in November, while more are expected in June as the IRCC looks for a system that gives Canada the immigrants its economy needs.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is also set for changes, the biggest of which is the Global Talent Stream, as already mentioned.
Under GTS, highly qualified applicants will be process in two weeks for Canada visas and work permits.
Canada is set to receive as many as 320,000 new immigrants in 2-17, according to the upper limit of federal targets.
The Canada immigration system is considered one of the most advanced in the world, but there is an understanding that constant review and modernization is required for it to stay there.
This latest report is designed to facilitate that.
Full List of Parliamentary Committee Recommendations
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada train all Call Centre agents on client service excellence and on how to communicate with people who may have limited English or French speaking abilities.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide a standard process to facilitate calls between a client and a Call Centre agent when an interpreter is used.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have a 15-minute standard for clients to be connected with an advisor or agent for all Call Centre operations.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada consider including specializations and subject-matter experts for Call Centre advisors and agents based on application type, including (1) temporary residence, (2) permanent residence, (3) refugees, including protected persons, (4) citizenship and (5) passports.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada consider, as part of the redesign of its website, using (1) client-centric design principles to produce digital channels for each business line, (2) plain language, (3) languages other than French and English, similar to what the Government of British Columbia is doing, and (4) virtual assistance.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada make improvements to “My Account” to allow clients to view and print applications before filing and during processing, and allow applicants to maintain a complete record of every application filed.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada improve the ability for applicants and their representatives to link paper applications with online accounts.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide alternative payment methods for individuals without access to online payment services and credit cards, such as returning to the previous policy of accepting proof of payment at a bank.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada contact clients via email or other channels when (1) processing exceeds times provided at the time of application (2) an incorrect payment is made (3) common or simple errors are made on the application.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada implement an online portal for clients and authorized representatives to track application progress, including but not limited to: (1) current status of the application, (2) any reasons for delays, (3) an estimated time for decision and (4) any missing information or complications with the application.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide more information and details to clients on the reasons for negative decisions.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada examine ways, in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, to increase the number of pre-arrival service sessions available, including attendance, in Foreign Service locations.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ensure Members of Parliament and Senators continue to have access to the Ministerial Enquiries Division.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada regularly review all application forms to (1) simplify the form, (2) improve the client experience, and (3) evaluate common patterns in mistakes and errors made on applications.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada establish a process for notifying applicants when forms are changed and establish a mechanism to ensure that completed applications submitted with once-current forms are not rejected due to form changes.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada consider establishing service standards and processing times for all business lines and publish the standards on the website.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada extend the validity period of work permits from six months to one year to take into account processing times at the department.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada offer automatic client service feedback forms for applications to the department.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada review key performance indicators for all client service channels and review best practices from other immigration systems around the world, such as those of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada create a “Reconsideration Committee” to deal with reconsideration requests within applicants’ 15-day deadline.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada conduct “client service and delivery” consultations with customer and client service experts, the private sector, former and current clients of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and all Canadians on how the department can better provide service.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada consult with refugees to determine their issues with client service and take steps to address them; the review would include (but would not be limited to) the website, Call Centre, languages used, access to technology and payments.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada work to better serve Canadian businesses and employers by studying the possible benefits of the department creating a trusted employer program to offer employers an expedited service for assessments (subject to a fee); that this study include input from Canadian businesses and employers; and that IRCC make its findings available to the Committee.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada conduct a cost‑benefit analysis on having regional immigration offices to deliver in‑person service similar to Passport Canada and Service Canada locations.
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