Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revealed its immigration strategy named “An Immigration System for Canada’s Future”. This strategy aims to provide efficient, user-friendly services both domestically and internationally.

A key element of this strategy is the development of a new, advanced operating platform, Digital Platform Modernization (DPM). DPM is designed to enhance efficiency, meeting the high demand for working, studying, visiting, and living in Canada. It will introduce a unified online window for immigration programs, increase automation, and offer digital self-service options. DPM is intended to streamline IRCC’s operations, accelerate processing, uphold program integrity, and make the immigration process more transparent and people-centric.

The implementation of DPM will occur over multiple years and phases. The project will incrementally replace the outdated Global Case Management System (GCMS), which currently manages electronic data processing for applications within Canada and abroad. The rollout of DPM will involve three overlapping phases:

  1. Stabilizing GCMS and reducing accumulated technical debt.
  2. Standardizing IT operations and further reducing technical debt, setting the stage for digital transformation.
  3. Transforming IRCC’s operational model with the introduction of the new digital platform, including new processes and policies, scheduled to run until December 2026.

DPM aims to reduce application processing times, enhance tools for officers, align with the government’s immigration and diversity goals, and adapt to changing client needs, positioning Canada as a competitive destination for global talent.

A key point of interest for immigration lawyers is that the new system promises to include all the officer’s notes on an application, which will greatly reduce the need to file Access to Information requests to obtain copies of refusal reasons or other data held by IRCC or the CBSA. The default inclusion of the reasons was confirmed by an IRCC official at a recent meeting with the Law Society of Ontario.

The DPM initiative is a part of IRCC’s broader goal to create a welcoming experience for newcomers. This includes reducing wait times, improving service standards, removing barriers to immigration, strengthening partnerships with employers and educational institutions, addressing fraud, enhancing protections for students and workers, improving communications, and adopting a people-focused approach. Digital and virtual technologies will be utilized to make application processes more user-friendly.

To tackle wait times and backlogs, IRCC has invested in operational processing capacity, including technological upgrades and hiring over 1,200 officers in 2022-2023. This will enable more effective global processing and better alignment of application intake with admission capacities.

For student and worker protection, IRCC will introduce Letter of Acceptance (LOA) verification and a Recognized Institutions Framework to ensure the integrity of international student programs and prevent fraud. Additionally, the Recognized Employer Pilot will reward compliant employers in sectors with labor shortages.

An advisory body, comprising individuals with immigration experience, will be established to guide policy and service delivery, ensuring a more human-centric approach. Finally, IRCC plans to release a new Citizenship guide that acknowledges the historical challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples, advancing reconciliation as Canada welcomes new arrivals.

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