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New Digital Platform Promised for Canadian Immigration in 2023

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Following a pledge from the federal government to speed up the processing of immigration applications, Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to modernize Canada’s immigration system. The recent federal budget earmarked $428.9 million over the next five years to create and implement the new platform, which will over time replace the current system for case management. The platform is set to be launched in 2023 and according to Alexander Cohen, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, it will be one of many changes within governmental departments to increase efficiency and make the process simpler for applicants. Paper-based applications will be phased out but will likely still be available if requested.

These changes may be what is needed to address both an increasing number of applications and an increasing gap between the number of received and finalized applications. Robert Falconer, a researcher from The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, notes that the number of permanent residency applications received was 34 per cent higher than the number of finalized applications last year. That number was 21 per cent in 2019 and is likely to keep increasing beyond 2021 unless the issue is addressed.

Currently Canada’s immigration department Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made an online application portal available to a random group of applicants across seven immigration programs. The final goal is to digitize as many applications as possible. At this time around 120 separate immigration programs are active in Canada, and Falconer points out that almost half of them have paper-based applications. Delays related to COVID-19 affected these programs, as paper-based applications are often transported to different locations via courier or secure mail while being processed. Falconer also recommended working on the integration of the federal and provincial immigration systems, as each province and territory has their own unique system.

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