(Ottawa) The federal government wants to create a new digital platform to help it process immigration applications faster. The current epidemic has highlighted the need to switch to a new system.
In the recently introduced 2021 budget, it plans to spend approximately 429 million over the next five years to create this platform, which will gradually replace the management system currently in place.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendesino said this new system will be part of a larger shift to new digital platforms for the entire administration and government.
« [Cette nouvelle] The platform will ensure that our immigration system can efficiently handle the growing number of requests, says Alexander Cohen. This will reduce the use of paper orders. It will be simpler and easier for the candidates. ”
According to University of Calgary researcher Robert Falconer, the rate of processing permanent residence applications has decreased over the past six years. Analysis of government data indicates that the number of permanent residence applications received was 34% higher than the number of applications reviewed last year.
Falconer notes that this number stood at 21% in 2019.
Mr. Cohen reports that the number of applications has increased significantly in recent years.
“There are more requests than ever before. We will process as many requests as there are places to plan [d’immigration]. »
Cohen adds that the ministry has launched a portal that allows some permanent residency applicants to apply digitally. This portal will eventually expand to include all permanent residency programs, but is currently available for random selection of applicants across seven programs.
Falconer said there are about 120 immigration programs in Canada and nearly half of them require applicants to complete paper applications.
He says the COVID-19 restrictions may have made it difficult for immigration officials to process requests written on paper forms.
Falconer says the government recently created several new programs under the category of economic immigration, including one allowing Hong Kong residents to come to Canada and another to allow all temporary residents, including international students, to apply for permanent residency status.
Using economic immigration as a catch-all when there are already a lot of paper applicants can lead to more stress, confusion, and complexity for immigration personnel. Each new public policy will have specific requirements. The more requirements we have, the slower the processing of each order.
Robert Falconer, Researcher at the University of Calgary
Mr. Falconer recommends improving integration between the federal and provincial immigration system as a priority.
Each county has its own application process. For example, the system in Alberta was paper based only. But two years ago, I decided to incorporate it into the federal government. ”
According to him, nearly half of all immigrants who arrive in the country under economic class programs pass through provincial programs.
“The most important issue is the harmonization of regional and federal governments on the issue of immigration,” he argues.
Andrew Griffiths, former director of citizenship and multiculturalism at the Immigration Department, said he tried to simplify the process by allowing more documents to be transferred over the Internet.
“These changes are not that easy to implement overnight,” he asserts.
Griffiths thinks the federal government’s pledge to spend nearly half a billion dollars putting in place a new immigration handling system will be interesting to watch as implementing large IT projects presents challenges to the government.
He said the administration has to find ways to get rid of any duplication and overlap that might exist in the current immigration system.
Do we need all of these steps? Can any of these steps be automated? Can we use [l’intelligence artificielle] To make decisions? ”
Cohen replies that the Immigration Department launched two pilot projects in 2018 to use computer analytics to help immigration officers sort some visa applications online.
“This technology analyzes data and identifies patterns in applications to help identify common and complex cases,” he says. The goal is to help officers identify common and direct requests for in-depth but faster processing, and sort more complex cases for further review. ”
Cohen says all decisions are made by the visa officer in all cases, and the department’s AI tools are not used to make decisions.
“We are always looking to leverage technology to improve the process for Canadians and those who want to come here.”
This story was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook Stock Exchange and The Canadian Press for News.
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