New system will bring immigrant families to Canada faster: Fraser

Spouses, children and parents of recent immigrants will be able to reunite with loved ones in Canada more quickly as the government switches to a new system for approving family reunification applications, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Friday.

Family members seeking permanent residence status in Canada can apply for a temporary visitor visa to join their sponsor while they wait for their application to be approved.

However, those types of visas are often denied due to concerns that applicants are unlikely to leave once it expires.

The new system uses advanced analytics to identify people who have a permanent residence application in the system and approve their visa to visit Canada more quickly.

The minister says he expects the response time to now be as short as 30 days.

“This means family members will be able to travel to Canada faster and be with their loved ones sooner than ever before,” Fraser said at a news conference in Vancouver on Friday.

The new system will analyze the person’s application and determine the probability that they will be granted permanent residence. Those with a high probability will be placed in a category that expedites their temporary visa.

So far, the approval rate for applications under the new system is over 98 percent, he said.

The announcement follows new instructions issued to immigration personnel in April for dealing with applications from people who want to come to Canada while applying for permanent residence. The new instructions reinforced the idea that the two applications are complementary, not contradictory.

“It’s a change for sure,” immigration lawyer Will Tao said after the minister’s announcement on Friday. “I think it’s a good move, in many ways”

However, the increased use of advanced analytics has raised some concern about the types of historical data being used to inform machine-based decision-making, and whether it could discriminate or disadvantage some families based on their place of origin. or other features. saying.

“I think it’s something that needs to be drilled down a little bit more on this idea that it applies the same to everyone, because I think in immigration we know that’s not the case, historically and data-wise,” Tao said.

“There are always discrepancies.”

Fraser said at the news conference that he wanted to “put to rest” any fears about discriminatory results and that the department has seen “massive improvements” in approval rates.

“It’s led to better results across the board, regardless of who gets to apply,” he said.

Decisions are always made by department staff, Fraser said, and it’s not possible for an artificial intelligence system to give or withhold final approval.

Fraser also announced Friday that spouses and dependent children on a temporary visa will receive open work permits, regardless of whether they apply before or after arriving in Canada.

That means spouses won’t have to wait to start working after they arrive in Canada.

“We know it’s critical that they be able to support themselves and their families as soon as possible,” Fraser said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2023.

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