Making CIC Better
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was created in 1994 with the purpose of connecting immigration services with citizenship registration, promoting the unique ideals all Canadians share and helping build a stronger country. Since then, it has been facilitating the arrival of thousands of people every year and their integration into Canada while protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians. As well as, maintaining Canada’s humanitarian tradition by protecting refugees and people in need of protection. For that, their employees work with people from diverse cultures, striving to serve them fairly, efficiently and with integrity. Through one of the best immigration and refugee system in the world, CIC has professionally processed thousands applications for temporary and permanent residency, assisted newcomers settle and integrate in Canada and also become Canadian citizens. However, there is always room for improvement.
First of all, the activities performed by CIC in a daily basis should be described for a better analysis on what should be improved. CIC screens and approves for admission permanent Canadian residents and temporary Canadian residents such as foreign students, visitors and temporary workers; resettles, protects and provides a safe haven for refugees; helps newcomers adapt to Canadian society and become Canadian citizens; manages access to Canada to protect the security and health of Canadians and the integrity of Canadian laws; and helps Canadians and newcomers to participate fully in the economic, political and cultural life of the country. All these tasks are possible to be carried out due to partnership with several departments and agencies.
It should also be noted that over 4,000 employees work for CIC in 46 points of service in Canada and 90 points of service in 76 countries. Together they are responsible for immigration, settlement, resettlement, citizenship and multiculturalism programs and services. CIC also makes refugee and immigration policy; determines the eligibility of people to claim refugee protection; decides refugee claims made by people abroad; select immigrants; issue visitor visas, student visas, travel documents, work permits or Minister’s permits; determine residency obligations; do pre-removal risk assessments (PRRA); decides applications to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds; issue security certificates; and grant Canadian citizenship.
CIC should modernise its processing network. Reducing paper and bureaucracy, money and time could be saved. All types of applications could be processed electronically, including payment and processing of files. These days, electronic application is available for some specific programs such as work permit, an off-campus work permit, a post-graduate work permit, a study permit and an extension to stay in Canada as a visitor. However, it could be extended to applications for permanent residency as well. Definitely, computerising the system, the CIC website would be able to facilitate the process of all kinds of application; as a result the processing time would be significantly reduced.
Another aspect that should be considered to make CIC better is concerning its employees. CIC should expand its personnel. More qualified staff is required to analyse and decide thousands of applications waiting for a decision. Hiring more employees to work on the backlog would reduce the number of applications waiting for decision. Moreover, it would deliver fast decisions in general, diminishing the processing time. This way, it would not be necessary refund fees and return stale applications from nearly 280,000 applicants, who applied under the dated criteria in existence before February 27, 2008, to eliminate the backlog in the main federal economic immigration program to solve a problem. Furthermore, this solution may affect Canada’s reputation abroad. People may not trust the process of immigration in Canada anymore and opt to immigrate to other countries that may make a good use of their skills and talents.
On the other hand, CIC employees should be hired after taking an immigration intensive program able to qualify them for the respective position. Moreover, it is important to keep CIC staff up-to-dated. Decision makers must be aware of constant changes in the immigration policy. Providing a practice management education to its staff, CIC may raise the level of education of those who deal with applications and have contact with public in general. As a result, decisions made in immigration process will be fairer and in accordance with the current immigration policy.
Canada Board Services Agency (CBSA) could provide an entry – exit check to control who enters and who exits the country. This way CIC could verify those who stay in Canada and for how long time. Consequently, CIC would be able to track easily permanent residents to verify if they have been complying with their residency obligations to keep their permanent resident status. Besides, temporary residents could be quickly identified when they overstayed the maximum period allowed to them. All these measures should be implemented to protect the security and health of Canadians and the integrity of Canadian laws.
Adhering to changes introduced by Australia in immigration program, CIC could begin pre-screening immigrants like dentists, nurses or engineers, ensuring that their professional credential met Canadian standards. Through pre-screening, the process of credential recognition could be speeded up. Consequently, immigrants could be able to get jobs in their fields as soon as they land in Canada, avoiding submitting to survival jobs. Furthermore, these immigrants would help Canada fills regional needs of these professionals. On the other hand, it would be an intelligent approach to select potential immigrants to prevent from future radical decision of wiping out backlog. Applicants should not be disregarded when they have invested time, money and energy, hoping to use their skills and qualifications in a country that has encouraged them to immigrate.
To conclude, as mentioned above, CIC performs several activities from assisting prospective immigrants to move and settle permanently in Canada to become Canadian citizens later, as well as creating refugee and immigration policies and sheltering refugees in need of protection. Seeking a functioning immigration system in Canada, CIC could change some rules as referred at the beginning to optimize its services. Following this way, CIC could avoid making errors committed in the past and could improve an immigrant’s labour market success.
Paula De Cassia Pimpão