On April 1, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched an online portal enabling previous paper-based permanent residence applications to be submitted online. This new portal is available for applicants in a limited number of economic permanent resident programs.
These programs include:
- Non-Express Entry (base) Provincial Nominee Program;
- Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot;
- Agri-Food Pilot;
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot;
- Quebec Selected Investor Program;
- Quebec Entrepreneur Program;
- Quebec Self-Employed Persons Program.
It is unclear at present, whether this system will be extended to other paper- based applications like the Quebec Skilled worker program or even the Federal self-employed stream and although IRCC have updated the operating manuals for all the above programs, the IRCC website still refers to mail in instructions for paper-based submissions. We can expect further clarification on this shortly.
Why is digital the way to go?
There are many advantages to IRCC pursuing a digital platform for all its applications irrespective of the program. In addition to the positive environmental factors moving away from a paper-based system has, there are also massive procedural advantages to having a digital application forum.
Application completeness- Having a digital application platform presents the applicant with a clear breakdown of all the documents they need to submit, in which order. This leaves less room for incomplete applications.
Processing times- Processing times for paper-based submissions far exceed the processing times for digitally submitted applications. Take for instance enhanced provincial nominee programs (PNP). A PNP applicant submitted through the Express Entry system can expect a processing time of around 6 months whereas a base PNP applicant, that is a paper-based submission can expect to wait 20 months to see their file processed.
Is the future of Canadian Immigration Digital?
The introduction of the Express Entry system in 2015 was IRCCs first great step into the world of digital processing and has since then added a small number of programs (till now exclusively temporary in nature) to the type of application that can be processed online. This new announcement shows that IRCC are investing both time and effort into developing a more user friendly application experience for all.