Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Administration): SOR/2019-174
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 12
SOR/2019-174 June 3, 2019
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT
P.C. 2019-609 May 31, 2019
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 11(1.01) footnote a, section 14 footnote b, subsection 26(1) footnote c and section 186.3 footnote d of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act footnote e, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Administration).
Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Administration)
1 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations footnote 1 are amended by adding the following after section 9:
Use of Electronic Means
9.1 (1) Despite section 10, when an application, request or claim is made, a document or information is submitted electronically, or a signature by electronic means is provided, it must be made, submitted or provided using the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Supporting documents for electronic applications
(2) When an application, request or claim is made by electronic means, any required information, documents or evidence of payment required in these Regulations must be submitted by the same means.
Application by electronic means
9.2 The following applications must be made by the electronic means made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose:
- (a) an application for an extension of an authorization to remain in Canada as a temporary resident;
- (b) an application that is made in Canada for a work or study permit or for renewal of such a permit;
- (c) an application for the restoration of temporary resident status;
- (d) an application that is made pursuant to a youth mobility arrangement entered into by Canada.
Deemed receipt by the Minister
9.3 (1) Any application, request, claim, document or information sent by a foreign national, or an individual or an entity using electronic means is deemed to have been received by the Minister at the time and on the date indicated by the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Deemed receipt by recipient
(2) Any notice, request, decision, determination, document or information sent by the Minister using electronic means is deemed to have been received by the intended recipient at the time and on the date it was sent by the Minister as indicated by the electronic means that is used or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Exception — use of other means
9.4 Despite other provisions of these Regulations, the Minister may require a foreign national, or an individual or an entity to make an application, request or claim, submit any document or information or provide a signature by any other means made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose if the Minister determines that
- (a) the infrastructure in a country is inadequate or incompatible with the electronic means made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose; or
- (b) a natural disaster, political turmoil or other situation prevents or impedes the use of electronic means or makes using them unreliable.
9.5 A foreign national or an individual who, because of a disability is unable to meet a requirement to make an application, request or claim, submit any document or provide a signature or information using electronic means, may do so by any other means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Payment of fees
9.6 (1) Any fees to be paid or evidence of payment of fees referred to in these Regulations must be paid or provided by the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose except in the following circumstances:
- (a) if services for the collection of payment are provided by an entity under an agreement or arrangement with Canada for that purpose; or
- (b) if fees may be paid at a port of entry by other means.
Payment in exceptional circumstances
(2) Despite subsection (1), the required fees may be paid or evidence of payment provided by any other means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose if the Minister determines that
- (a) the infrastructure in a country is inadequate or incompatible with the electronic means made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose; or
- (b) a natural disaster, political turmoil or other situation prevents or impedes the use of electronic means or makes using them unreliable.
(3) Any fee paid by electronic means is deemed to be paid on the date and at the time recorded by the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
Exception — disability
(4) A foreign national or an individual who, because of a disability is unable to pay the required fees referred to in subsection (1) by electronic means, may do so by other means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
2 (1) Section 10 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Exception — adoption
(2.1) An application to sponsor and the accompanying application for permanent residence for a person described in paragraph 117(1)(b) involving an international adoption or another person referred to in paragraph 117(1)(g) can be submitted without the information referred to in paragraph 10(2)(a) concerning that person but that information must be provided before the application is approved.
(2) Subsection 10(4) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Application — sponsorship
(4) An application made by a foreign national as a member of the family class must be accompanied by a sponsorship application referred to in paragraph 130(1)(c).
3 Section 11 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Application — other means
11 If an application is not made by electronic means it must be submitted to the address specified by the Minister, including the address specified on the Department’s website for that purpose.
4 Sections 12.01 to 12.03 of the Regulations are replaced by the following:
Invitation — application for permanent residence
12.01 An application for permanent residence that is made in response to an invitation issued by the Minister under Division 0.1 of the Act must be made by the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
5 Subsections 12.04(1) to (3) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:
Electronic travel authorization — application by electronic means
12.04 (1) Despite section 10, an application for a travel authorization under subsection 11(1.01) of the Act must be made by the electronic system that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose.
6 Paragraph 12.04(4)(h) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (h) if the applicant is making the application by the electronic system referred to in subsection (1), the applicant’s e-mail address;
7 Paragraph 70(2)(b) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (b) the economic class, consisting of the federal skilled worker class, the Quebec skilled worker class, the provincial nominee class, the Canadian experience class, the federal skilled trades class, the Quebec investor class, the Quebec entrepreneur class, the start-up business class, the self-employed persons class and the Quebec self-employed persons class; and
8 Sections 85.1 to 85.6 of the Regulations are repealed.
9 (1) The portion of subsection 209.11(1) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
Foreign national — subparagraph 200(1)(c)(ii.1)
209.11 (1) An employer who has made an offer of employment to a foreign national referred to in subparagraph 200(1)(c)(ii.1) must, before the foreign national makes an application for a work permit in respect of that employment, provide the following information to the Minister using the electronic means that is made available or specified by the Minister for that purpose:
(2) Subsections 209.11(2) and (3) of the Regulations are repealed.
10 Subsection 209.994(2) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(2) Despite section 9.3(2) of these Regulations and section 3 of the Electronic Documents and Electronic Information Regulations, a notice of preliminary finding or a corrected or cancelled notice of preliminary finding is deemed to have been received 10 days after the day on which it is sent.
11 Subsection 209.996(6) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(6) Despite section 9.3(2) of these Regulations and section 3 of the Electronic Documents and Electronic Information Regulations, a notice of final determination is deemed to have been received 10 days after the day on which it is sent.
12 Subsection 295(2.1) of the Regulations is repealed.
13 Subsection 296(3) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Maximum fee — family
(3) The total amount of fees payable under subsection (1) by an applicant and their family members who apply together and at the same time must not exceed $500.
14 Subsection 299(3) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Maximum fee — group
(3) The total amount of fees payable under subsection (1) by a group of three or more persons consisting of performing artists and their staff who apply together and at the same time for a work permit is $465.
15 (1) Subsection 303.1(2) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Payment of fees
(2) The fee referred to in subsection (1) is payable before the foreign national to whom the offer of employment is made makes an application for a work permit or an application for renewal of the work permit.
(2) Subsections 303.1(3) and (4) of the Regulations are repealed.
Coming into Force
16 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
The temporary entry of foreign nationals to Canada brings billions of dollars to the Canadian economy, and enriches Canadian culture and communities. As reported in the 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, Canada is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students, foreign workers and tourists. Those who came to Canada temporarily in 2016–2017 contributed over $31 billion to the Canadian economy. Likewise, permanent immigration contributes to the sociocultural fabric of Canada, to family reunification, and to a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.
The number of temporary resident applications continues to rise on an annual basis, increasing by more than 70% between 2011 and 2017. Regarding permanent immigration, the 2019–2021 immigration levels plan seeks to welcome 330 800 new immigrants in 2019 (compared to 310 000 in 2018); 341 000 in 2020; and 350 000 in 2021.
As Canada seeks to attract more visitors and permanent residents, the Government of Canada — in particular, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) — must strive to continually modernize and improve operations in order to provide timely and efficient client service and to keep pace with international competition for international students and tourists.
More than ever, improving processes means leveraging technology. These regulatory amendments are about modernizing and standardizing tools and processes to support greater use of technology in the immigration system to help manage volumes, improve client service, and enhance consistency and efficiency in processing immigration applications. Specifically, the regulatory amendments described in this document seek to support greater technological use across temporary and permanent resident business lines while also streamlining the process for some family sponsorship applications in the permanent resident stream.
In order to live, work or study in Canada, a foreign national must make an application to the Government of Canada and, as applicable, pay associated application fees. The citizenship of the foreign national, and the purpose for which they are coming, will determine if the application must be submitted to IRCC prior to arrival in Canada or if the application can be made directly at a port of entry upon arrival. Foreign nationals who are eligible to apply for immigration services at a port of entry may apply in person, directly to the CBSA, upon arrival at the port of entry. Applicants must also pay any required application fees, the vast majority of which are paid electronically or through a visa application centre to IRCC, prior to arrival in Canada. However, the CBSA also collects fees for applications made at the port of entry as well as for the issuance of documents (e.g. work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit).
Most applications, including all permanent resident applications, are assessed by IRCC officers at visa offices abroad or at processing centres in Canada. Foreign nationals who have been issued the required temporary resident visa (TRV) or an electronic travel authorization (eTA), as applicable, are authorized to travel to Canada. Foreign nationals who are coming to work or study in Canada will have their eTA or TRV issued, as appropriate, with their study or work permit introduction letter. CBSA officers at ports of entry make the final decision on who may enter Canada. The CBSA verifies the admissibility of foreign nationals seeking entry to Canada and will assess and issue permits (including work permits, study permits and other documents), where applicable.
The administration and enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) are responsibilities shared between IRCC and the CBSA. IRCC is responsible for the administration of the IRPA in terms of selecting and welcoming foreign nationals as permanent and temporary residents by processing and rendering decisions on applications. IRCC receives and assesses applications in both paper and electronic formats. The CBSA’s responsibilities under the IRPA include determining the admissibility of foreign nationals and issuing permits at ports of entry; investigating and removing foreign nationals who are in Canada without status; and investigating and prosecuting offences under the IRPA. The CBSA uses various systems to process travellers arriving at Canadian ports of entry, such as CBSA’s Integrated Primary Inspection Line System (in air and land modes); Mobile Primary Inspection Line (MoP-IL); Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs); NEXUS kiosks; and IRCC’s Global Case Management System, which records the issuance of documents (e.g. visitor records, work permits, study permits, temporary resident permits, landing documents for permanent residents, and inadmissibility reports) to foreign nationals and Canadian permanent residents.
As part of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, a series of new provisions and consequential amendments were introduced to the IRPA (Part 4.1), setting out clear authorities for using electronic means to administer and enforce immigration programs. These legislative changes were developed to support the expanding use of electronic means and tools in the immigration system to manage the ever-increasing volume of immigration applications being processed, including from travellers requiring immigration services at ports of entry. While Part 4.1 of the IRPA provides broad authority for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (legal name for the Minister of IRCC) and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (responsible for the CBSA) [the ministers] to use electronic tools, specific details are left to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations).
These amendments to the Regulations have been recommended by both IRCC and the CBSA in order to deal with administrative processing issues within the immigration system (e.g. application processing). The amendments do not introduce or expand enforcement authorities, and are not expected to appreciably alter processes for clients. Rather, the amendments aim to provide clarity, specifications and certainty to clients, as well as to IRCC and CBSA officers regarding electronic processes that are already being used widely.
The amendments are designed to enhance the legal framework for the use of electronic tools within the immigration system, thereby improving certainty, consistency and predictability for IRCC, the CBSA, and their clients, while also boosting processing efficiency and service delivery. The amendments also target a more streamlined application process for family sponsorships, and provide IRCC with greater flexibility in where it accepts non-electronic applications in both temporary and permanent resident immigration programs. Finally, the amendments are intended to clarify and update the Regulations by repealing obsolete provisions and making non-substantive refinements to existing provisions.
The amendments add details regarding the use and application of technology in the administration and enforcement of the IRPA under Part 4.1. They also provide for simpler, more streamlined processes for certain applicants. Other amendments simply bring consistency and clarity to current practices and eliminate provisions that are no longer necessary.
Amendments related to electronic tools/means and systems
The following amendments support greater use of electronic tools and systems in both the temporary and permanent resident immigration streams:
- Use of electronic systems: The amendments prescribe that clients applying to come to or stay in Canada on a temporary or permanent basis use the electronic means or systems that are made available or specified administratively (e.g. on the website) by the ministers for that purpose. For example, to submit an electronic application (e-application), clients must use the e-application made available by IRCC. Since clients already use the electronic forms and systems made available to apply for immigration programs, these amendments will not require them to change their behaviour. They will simply ensure that clients do not use electronic systems that are not secure or may not be compatible with IRCC systems. These amendments will help ensure consistent service for all clients.
- Mandatory electronic payments (e-payments): The amendments require that any payment of fees related to immigration applications be made electronically, unless (a) other means are made available to facilitate payment by organizations under service contracts or arrangements with Canada, e.g. visa application centres; (b) alternative payment methods are made available by IRCC in countries where the infrastructure does not support the use of electronic means; or (c) clients apply for permits directly at a port of entry to the CBSA. Since the vast majority of clients already pay their application fees online, at a visa application centre, or at a port of entry, these amendments are not expected to result in a change for most clients. IRCC will continue to facilitate alternative methods of payment when warranted by country-specific conditions.
- Direction of the Minister/use of other means: The amendments prescribe the circumstances where the ministers may direct the use of alternative processes for making applications and payments, e.g. in cases of natural disasters or system issues or outages causing the electronic networks to be unavailable or unreliable. The amendments are meant to facilitate continuity for clients when the usual means of application are disrupted or unavailable, and to ensure that clients know what to do when these events occur. These amendments will also facilitate the use of paper forms when program changes need to be implemented but systems are not yet available, such as in the case of a pilot project, as well as in situations where a requirement to use e-applications could place an undue burden on clients (e.g. vulnerable clients facing barriers to Internet access).
- Date and time: The amendments provide details regarding the date and time when e-applications or other information are deemed to have been received by clients and by IRCC and the CBSA. This will help to establish a consistent and verifiable point of reference for the calculation of processing times and other time-sensitive requirements, such as deadlines for submitting additional information to support an immigration application. The amendments also provide similar details regarding the time and date when e-payments are deemed to have been received by IRCC and the CBSA, helping to ensure predictable service for clients and consistent administration of the immigration programs. These amendments do not introduce new authorities for officers; they simply provide clarity and certainty for the exercise of existing authorities in the context of electronic applications and systems. IRCC and the CBSA will continue to clearly communicate deadlines for sending additional information and other time-sensitive requirements to ensure applicants have a sufficient window of time to comply.
- General exception: The amendments provide a general exception to requirements to use electronic systems made available or specified by the Minister where a disability prevents a person from using those electronic means.
The following amendments apply only to certain temporary resident programs:
- E-applications: Subject to the exceptions in cases of disability or where systems are unavailable or unreliable, the amendments require that applications made under the International Experience Canada program be made using e-applications. In addition, the amendments prescribe that most temporary resident applications made from within Canada be made electronically, specifically
- applications for extensions of temporary resident status made from within Canada;
- applications for study or work permits made from within Canada;
- applications for renewals of study or work permits made from within Canada; and
- applications for restoration of status made from within Canada.
Since all overseas International Experience Canada applications, and the vast majority of temporary resident applications submitted from within Canada, are already submitted electronically (and since paper applications are typically printed from the IRCC website), these amendments will not represent a significant change for clients.
In addition to the technology-related amendments, the Regulations have been modified to reflect IRCC’s continuous collaboration with the CBSA to streamline processes and assist Canadian citizens and permanent residents wanting to sponsor members of their family, in support of the Government of Canada’s commitment to family reunification.
- Sponsorship applications: The amendments require that sponsorship applications accompany applications for permanent residence in the family class. The regulatory option for a family class sponsorship application to precede the related permanent resident application has therefore been removed. This is consistent with current practices, which will help reduce processing delays.
- International adoptions: The amendments allow the submission of sponsorship and permanent residence applications for intercountry adoption cases where a child has not yet been identified. In other words, an application can be submitted, and the approval process started, before certain required information is available, e.g. name, gender, date of birth (this information can be provided once known). This supports current practices, which allow IRCC to begin the sponsorship assessment before all required information is available.
- Non-electronic applications: Regulatory provisions concerning the place where applications must be submitted have been amended to provide IRCC more flexibility in determining where non-electronic applications may be submitted. Rather than specifying in the Regulations at which office applications should be submitted, these amendments allow IRCC to use administrative means (e.g. IRCC’s website) to indicate where non-electronic applications should be submitted based on expertise and processing capacity (i.e. based on where the Department can process them most effectively and efficiently). This is in line with IRCC’s current service delivery model in which applicants primarily use the website to obtain information about application requirements and procedures. IRCC will ensure clear communication in a timely fashion about where to submit applications, with grace periods to accommodate clients when application submission requirements change.
Regulatory provisions related to the transitional federal skilled workers class have been repealed as these provisions are no longer necessary. The transitional federal skilled workers class was put in place to accommodate certain applicants when the Immigration Act was replaced by the IRPA in 2001. No applications are currently pending or even possible under this class today.
Where necessary, consequential amendments to other provisions have been made to avoid duplication and ensure alignment with all of the changes outlined above. In addition, non-substantive amendments have been made for clarity to ensure that families making visa applications, and groups of performing artists making work permit applications, continue to benefit from existing group fee provisions when applications are made electronically.
Changes after prepublication
The proposed amendments that were prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, included a provision that would prescribe that temporary resident visa applications made from within Canada be made electronically. This proposed amendment has been removed due to concerns about potential ambiguity about the scope of its application.
A few other non-substantive changes were made to the Regulations after the prepublication, specifically
- Changes were made to clarify the “Direction of the Minister/use of other means” provision, which provides the Minister with the authority to require the use of alternate means in certain circumstances. Additional situations in which the Minister can exercise this authority have been added. For instance, it now provides the added flexibility to facilitate the use of paper forms for clients in vulnerable situations facing significant barriers to accessing online forms that are unrelated to disability. The provision may also facilitate the use of paper forms on an interim basis in cases where online processes cannot be updated quickly enough to accommodate unanticipated program changes.
- Consequential amendments related to the “Date and time” provisions, which were initially overlooked, have been included. Specifically, changes were made to ensure that two existing provisions, subsections 209.994(2) and 209.996(6) — which establish when notices of preliminary findings in the context of the employer compliance regime under the temporary foreign workers programs are deemed to have been received — are not impacted by the new “Date and time” provisions. These two provisions maintain their own receipt requirements of 10 days. As such, these provisions now include an introductory clause that reads, “Despite section 9.3(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.”
- Non-substantive changes were also made to improve consistency throughout the regulatory text. Some provisions were also reordered and renumbered for added clarity and consistency.
Gender-based analysis plus
From a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) perspective, technology-related amendments are expected to have minimal differential impacts on the basis of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion and/or disability. Although the requirement to use electronic means and systems could negatively impact persons who are unable to use or access electronic means as a result of a disability, an exception has been created to allow the use of alternative means for such persons, including the use of paper forms.
All applicants already need to visit the departmental website in some form or another to print an application in hard copy prior to physically submitting their paper application; therefore, they are accustomed to online methods as a first step to accessing immigration services. Rather than negatively impacting certain groups of applicants, the amendments are expected to simplify processes, as the need to print and mail applications will be reduced. These amendments will also help IRCC continue to meet its service standards for in-Canada processing, which would ensure that clients receive decisions on their applications within expected timelines.
A majority of in-Canada applicants already submit their applications online. IRCC statistics show that on average, in 2017, approximately 81% of applicants applying to renew their temporary resident visa from within Canada did so using e-applications (97 143 individuals out of a total of 119 886 applicants). From January to August 2018, the proportion increased to 91% (72 211 individuals out of 79 780). Given Canada’s high Internet availability and connectivity, issues of connectivity are not expected for prospective applicants, including vulnerable populations. However, should individuals be unable to access the Internet, they can get support from Service Canada’s network of offices across Canada. Moreover, the ministerial authority to prescribe circumstances where the Department may direct the use of alternative processes will facilitate the use of paper forms in cases where specific vulnerable groups may be facing barriers to electronic access.
The other provisions not related to technology are intended to increase application and processing flexibility and are expected to improve processes for all applicants, with no differential impacts expected between genders or for vulnerable groups. As such, the overall GBA+ impacts are expected to be neutral or positive.
Benefits of the amendments
Putting in place amendments to support the increased use of electronic tools and processes will bolster efficiency within IRCC, helping to maintain service standards as application volumes continue to rise and helping to ensure Canada remains a destination of choice for tourists and business travellers. Standardizing application processes, as well as adding clarity and enhancing the legal framework supporting the use of electronic systems, will also increase predictability and transparency, improve consistency for officers and clients, and boost processing efficiency.
By supporting the greater use of technology in the immigration system overall, these amendments will allow Canada to keep pace with like-minded countries, such as Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, which are continually introducing new electronic tools and processes to manage temporary and permanent immigration flows.
The provisions regarding the circumstances where the Minister may direct the use of alternative means for submitting applications, payments, documents or information will allow IRCC and the CBSA to react quickly to any eventuality affecting their electronic infrastructure. Specifically, these provisions will help to ensure continuity of service in situations where systems changes cannot be made quickly enough to adapt to rapid program changes (e.g. pilot projects implemented under short timelines), as well as in situations where a requirement to use e-applications could place an undue burden on clients (e.g. vulnerable clients facing barriers to Internet access). These same provisions will also allow the Departments to accept alternative submissions of applications, documents, and other information in the event of an emergency or disaster. These provisions will help to ensure that the Departments have the necessary flexibility to address any unforeseen or unmanageable events that may disrupt their processing networks, and to provide instructions to clients when these events occur.
The amendments related to sponsorship applications for internationally adopted children will support important client-focused practices, allowing IRCC to begin processing these cases before all of the information about the child is available and thereby reducing the time families need to wait before being able to bring their children to Canada. The amendments related to family sponsorships will ensure greater clarity and contribute to more effective and efficient processing of applications. The amendments related to where non-electronic applications may be submitted will provide greater flexibility to IRCC and clients, which will thereby contribute to more efficient processing of applications.
The remaining non-substantive amendments will ensure that the Regulations are clear, consistent and current.
Limited costs associated with the amendments
IRCC will incur minor costs to implement the changes, the majority of which will be incurred in the first two years. IRCC will require resources to work on specific one-time tasks. Namely, these resources will develop functional/program guidance through operational bulletins, program delivery instructions, frequently asked questions (FAQ) sheets, and other guidance documents, as well as develop communications materials (e.g. press releases and website updates), and ensure ongoing program monitoring and reporting.
Beyond the two-year implementation period, IRCC will incur very minor ongoing personnel costs for tasks such as participation in working groups centred on the design of electronic business processes. Resources for all incremental activities associated with these amendments will be drawn from existing departmental funds.
No new systems will be introduced as part of the implementation of these Regulations. The Regulations only codify the use of existing systems and do not incur new system-related costs.
CBSA is not expected to incur any costs as a result of the amendments.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to these amendments, as they are aimed at individual applicants and do not present a change in administrative costs to businesses.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to these amendments, as small businesses will not be impacted.
The amendments to support the increased use of electronic tools received support from witnesses when the enabling legislative provisions were discussed before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on May 28, 2015.
In developing these regulatory amendments, which have been included in IRCC’s Forward Regulatory Plan since spring 2016, IRCC worked closely with the CBSA to ensure that they would meet the needs of both organizations and their clients.
While IRCC conducts an engagement and consultation exercise annually for the development of the immigration levels plan, in 2016 this initiative was broadened to include a national conversation on immigration to Canada, including modernizing Canada’s immigration system. footnote 2 Many suggestions called on IRCC to improve processing efficiency by making greater use of technology, with stakeholders and the public being generally pleased that many application forms are now online. There was also consensus that broad improvements, such as streamlining processes and making better use of technology, will reduce processing times for all. While some felt that the IRCC website was outdated, it is expected that ongoing efforts to improve IRCC’s online presence will help to mitigate these concerns.
The results of the IRCC Client Service Evaluation Survey for the 2017 client cohort indicate broad support for electronic and online processes in applying for immigration programs. For example, clients indicated a high level of support for presenting applications, downloading forms, paying fees and accessing personal account information online through the IRCC website.
These amendments were prepublished for 30 days in the Canada Gazette, Part I, from January 24, 2019, to February 24, 2019. A web notice was also sent to key stakeholders to seek their expert views. IRCC received two submissions in response to the prepublication.
One submission was received from the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), which expressed general support for the amendments and acknowledged IRCC’s efforts to leverage technology to improve processing efficiency. Though the CBA did not request any specific changes to the regulatory amendments, they did convey that, while they “share with IRCC and CBSA the objective of expedient decision-making, administratively fair and judicious decision-making must always take priority.” The CBA also reminded the departments that “expediency at the expense of sound decision-making can also result in a log jam of judicial review applications in the federal courts.”
IRCC and the CBSA agree that efficiency cannot be achieved at the cost of procedural fairness. While these amendments do not pertain to automated decision-making, using technology in a manner that is responsible and fair to applicants will remain a key consideration as IRCC and the CBSA continue to modernize their respective processes.
With respect to the implementation of the “Date and time” provisions, the CBA highlighted the importance of clearly communicating deadlines and other time-sensitive requirements to clients. IRCC agrees with this point and will continue to ensure clear communication with clients in this regard. The CBA made additional recommendations regarding the implementation of these provisions; specifically, that mechanisms be put in place to ensure that data collected through electronic processing is sufficiently protected; that support be available for clients who encounter difficulties in using electronic application processes; and that applications be processed by officers with the necessary knowledge and expertise. IRCC agrees with these recommendations and will continue to protect data provided by applicants, provide support to clients encountering difficulties, and ensure that an appropriate level of expertise and knowledge is brought to bear in processing applications. The CBA also made operational recommendations for streamlining processes for family class applications. More details on the input provided by the CBA can be found in the article “Leveraging technology in immigration processing,” recently published in the CBA’s magazine: CBA National. IRCC will be engaging with the CBA Immigration Law Section on these matters.
Another submission was received from an individual member of a consultant group regarding the provision that would require temporary resident applications made from within Canada to be submitted electronically. This individual was seeking clarification on how the new amendments would affect current paper applications for TRVs submitted by international students within Canada for their dependent family members. The submission highlighted that IRCC’s online system only allows international students to submit TRV applications for dependent family members who hold valid study or work permits. However, since many international students have dependents who are minor children for example — and thus would not have a study or work permit — a requirement to submit TRV applications for their children online would be problematic. IRCC conducted further analysis into this issue and concluded that this proposed amendment could have resulted in unintended ambiguity. Therefore, in light of the question raised, this proposed amendment was removed. It will not be made at this time.
Assessment of modern treaty implications
Pursuant to the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implications, an assessment of modern treaties was undertaken. The assessment did not identify any modern treaty implications or obligations.
Regulatory amendments are required in order to prescribe the specific use of electronic means and processes within the immigration system.
As Canada seeks to attract more visitors and immigrants, IRCC and the CBSA must continually improve their operations to provide timely and efficient client service and to keep pace with international competitors for international students, foreign workers and tourists. Leveraging technology can significantly contribute to achieving these objectives.
While Part 4.1 of the IRPA provides broad authority for the Minister of IRCC and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to use electronic tools, additional details regarding the use of those systems are outlined in the Regulations. The regulatory amendments provide clarity and enhance the legal framework to ensure the consistent use of electronic means and tools. Amendments not related to electronic systems will improve processing in general, and for specific immigration streams.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The amendments will help IRCC and the CBSA to continue to meet service standards in temporary resident lines of business, while also making processes clearer and simpler for individuals applying under the temporary and permanent immigration programs. IRCC will continue to lead reporting on immigration program results, including service standards, through the parliamentary reporting process.
New requirements for how applications are submitted and payments are made, as well as new parameters regarding when e-applications, e-payments and other documents are deemed to have been received, will give IRCC and CBSA officers clarity in processing applications from clients who do not comply with the time allotted for submitting any necessary additional information. However, officers will continue to exercise their discretion and assess applications on a case-by-case basis, as they do in “non-electronic” processes. While these amendments require that most temporary resident applicants applying from within Canada do so electronically, a new provision exempts applicants from this requirement in cases where a disability prevents them from doing so.
The amendments mostly support existing electronic processes and are not expected to impact the process for most clients. However, as with current processes, applicants that do not meet all requirements may be asked for additional information and/or their applications may be refused.
These regulatory amendments do not entail the collection of new or additional personal information; however, such information collected by IRCC and the CBSA will continue to be protected and stored in accordance with Canadian law.
These Regulations come into force on the date on which they are registered.
Strategic Policy and Planning
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Program and Policy Management Division
Canada Border Services Agency