Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) submitted an ATIP request (a legal recourse to request information from government organizations) that revealed that 779 inactive Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers were assigned (59,456) pending and reopened applications to be processed.
An inactive officer no longer has access to or uses the Global Case Management System (GCMS)-IRCC’s universal system for processing citizenship and immigration applications.
Cases were assigned to inactive officers in Canadian airports, border ports, and processing centers; as well as officers at consulates in India, the U.S., the Philippines, Brazil, and other countries.
In addition, the ATIP request also reveals the unique placeholder codes of the inactive immigration officers, their last GCMS login date, and how many applications they have been assigned.
It is only through these placeholder codes, which applicants can see in their GCMS notes, that IRCC officers can be identified publicly. GCMS notes can be requested by individuals under the ATIP to receive IRCC’s notes on their immigration application, including correspondence with and from IRCC, documents submitted by applicants, detailed notes from the officers reviewing the file, and other relevant details.
There is no clear explanation for why the IRCC has been assigning applications to inactive users; however, according to CBC, the IRCC was unable to remove these inactive users from the GCMS due to traceability concerns.
What Changes are in Store?
IRCC has taken steps to combat a huge backlog of application requests in response to increasing scrutiny and the need to welcome newcomers into Canada. 1,250 more employees have been hired, and the department has committed to using advanced data analytics to speed up application processing; as well as investing millions of dollars in a new digital system that will eventually replace the GCMS by 2023.
The backlog of applications has also decreased in recent months, standing at 2.2 million applicants as of December 9th, 2022.
Despite these strides, IRCC continues to strive for previous service standards, despite the large number of applications that are backlogged. The effect of this can be seen more dramatically in immigration streams with smaller targets—such as the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP), which operates on a lottery system with yearly selections.
In the past two years, the IRCC has been recycling applications submitted to its 2020 pool, which has disproportionately impacted the elderly.
Even though IRCC has made gains in 2022 (and continues to commit to more measures in the future), it is clear that it is not yet reaching the levels of application it had prior to the pandemic. In order to restore service standards and normal application processing, these shortcomings must be addressed.