This article was authored by the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association Board of Directors (2023/2024).
The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) takes this opportunity to comment on some of the immigration, refugee and citizenship components of Budget 2023.
CILA is pleased with the Government of Canada’s commitment to a stronger immigration system. A meaningful commitment to strengthen Canada’s immigration infrastructure to foster economic growth must be made in tandem with the adoption of advanced and tested technologies to buttress the intake and processing of millions of applications each year. To attract immigrants to this country, Canada must focus on the user experience and the platforms to ensure that applicants can submit applications reliably and with ease. Moreover, live client support and in person services must be offered to compliment the use of technologies. IRCC clients need more avenues to contact and interact with the Department and to receive meaningful replies to their inquiries and correspondence.
Investments to increase processing capacity of citizenship application is a welcome development for permanent residents – especially for applicants’ whose applications have been impacted by the ongoing delays brought on by the covid pandemic. CILA believes it is imperative that IRCC ensures that all eligible applicants can file their citizenship applications electronically online and directly through representation by lawyers.
While modernizing the intake and processing of citizenship application is needed, the tradition of welcoming Canadians to our nation through formal citizenship ceremonies should be preserved for those who choose to celebrate their journey to becoming Canadian. CILA believes maintaining the option to participate in formal in-person citizenship ceremonies is one that should be maintained. Attending one’s citizenship ceremony is a deeply personal choice and one that should not be forfeited solely to achieve government efficiencies and reduce operating costs. CILA continues to await an earlier commitment to eliminate citizenship application processing fees.
The expansion of the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system will help reduce the need to process temporary visa applications, thereby helping to reduce processing delays for intending visitors and other temporary residents. IRCC’s intention to shift resources to higher-risk travellers is one that should be commended.
CILA applauds the commitment to continue funding of legal aid programs for immigration and refugee matters across Canada. Access to legal aid varies amongst the provinces and territories and is not necessarily available provincially, despite federal funding. CILA recommends that IRCC consider public funding of legal support and/or advisory services by immigration lawyers through either the Immigration and Refugee Board or through Department of Justice.
CILA was established in 2021 with the goal of advancing the perspectives of the Canadian immigration lawyers and the clients we serve. We seek to improve fairness and transparency in the delivery of immigration programs. CILA has close to 500 members nationally.