Canadian Bar Association raises client issues with Citizenship Immigration Canada

Concerns with Citizenship Immigration Canada raised by the Canadian Bar Association on behalf of clients

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA), the largest professional association for lawyers in Canada, has requested an emergency meeting with officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as Citizenship Immigration Canada) to discuss technical and client service issues, particularly with respect to online services.

Citizenship Immigration Canada

Citizenship Immigration Canada is now known as IRCC –

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

In a letter sent to the Director General of IRCC’s Operational Management and Coordination, three principal areas of concern were outlined by the Chair of the CBA Immigration Law Section, Stéphane Duval. These related to:

  • webform inquiries not being reviewed and/or forwarded to the office handling the case;
  • requests for additional documents to be submitted mid-processing, yet ports for the documents to be uploaded not opening; and
  • Case Review taking 30 days or more to respond to enquiries.

Members of the CBA are currently compiling a list of related issues and examples to further illustrate the issues raised in the letter, which was publicized on February 10, 2016 in National magazine, the official periodical of the CBA.

‘These technical and client service issues have resulted in numerous cases being closed or refused due to “incomplete” applications or for a “failure to provide requested documents,” when documents have been provided via the webform or portal (and often via an additional back-up method, such as courier or email to the responsible office). The additional documents are simply not being properly reviewed, noted or matched up to the in-progress application,’ states the letter.

‘In the meantime, people are out of work, damages are accruing, and there is no simple or expeditious way to resolve issues that stem from inefficiencies and problems with IRCC’s tools and service options.’

An increasing amount of IRCC/ Citizenship Immigration Canada services have moved online over recent months and years. The most well-known example is the Express Entry immigration selection system, which was launched in January, 2015. In addition to Express Entry, however, many applications made under the various Provincial Nominee Programs — as well as numerous applications for temporary residence in Canada — are now processed either entirely or primarily through online services. Previously, the principal method of communication and submission of requested documents was via post (mail).

The concerns highlighted by the CBA may be of particular concern to applicants who have not retained legal counsel for the purposes of their application to immigrate to Canada.

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