Thousands of immigration files assigned to inactive agents
Some agents or users who have been assigned cases in recent months have not logged into the system for several years.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has assigned tens of thousands of immigration application files to agents and users who are inactive or no longer operating in its system.
Some of them have not connected to the system for more than a decade, according to information obtained by CBC, the English network of Radio-Canada.
Data from IRCC's Global Case Management System (GCMS) – an internal system used around the world to process immigration and citizenship applications – shows that 59,456 immigration application files that are open, pending or reopened were assigned to 779 former employees or dormant users since last February.
The department told CBC that once the user becomes inactive, it means they are no longer no longer uses his system and his accesses are then no longer available.
The data also shows when each employee or user logged on to the ministry's system.
IRCC employees can be publicly identified by codes, which consist of a combination of letters and numbers, for example AB12345.
Thus, the oldest connection to the system dates back to October 6, 2006, with a request attributed to a code based in Montreal. In addition, 19 requests were traced to a code or an Edmonton employee who last logged into the system on May 9, 2007.
I'm horrified that their system can even do that, said Andrea Bote, who applied for permanent residence in Canada and whose file was directed to an inactive user.
“How can something like this be ignored for so long? That's a lot of files that end up between the cracks.
— Andrea Bote, Permanent Residency Applicant
Immigration lawyer Jean-Sébastien Boudreault is no longer surprised by these horror stories.
Before, we were able to speak to immigration officers, we were able to speak to managers, but now there are walls everywhere, it is difficult to speak to people, he said, Monday morning, at the program D'abord l'info, on ICI RDI.
Of course, procedures must be put in place, agrees Me Boudreault. But we have put so many procedures, put so much distance between the user, the immigrant, his representatives and the officials that we are no longer able to talk to anyone.
According to him, deadlines no longer make sense. For this reason, he advises immigration applicants to keep track of their case and act quickly when the deadlines posted on the IRCC website have passed.
Earlier this year, CBC shared the stories of several people whose cases became lost in limbo after being assigned to a single agent, known by the handle DM10032. For years, their demands went untouched.
After the report aired, applicants assigned to this agent – who had become inactive, the department confirmed – finally saw their files progress in the months that followed.
CBC filed an Access to Information request in January with IRCC to obtain all codes of inactive employees or users assigned to files.
October , the ministry finally sent the data which shows the list of hundreds of codes, a mixture of former employees and usernames that were no longer active in February 2022.
These codes are based around the world: at Canadian airports, port customs and visa application centers, embassies and consulates in the United States, the Philippines, India, Haiti, Poland , Brazil and Tunisia, to name a few.
Ottawa has the highest number of inactive codes. The federal capital was followed by Edmonton, Vancouver and Sydney in Nova Scotia.
Code SM10353 was the most problematic, with 9,540 immigration applications assigned to it. This former employee or user, based in Sydney, last logged in on March 23, 2021.
User ID is a unique identifier. Once it has been assigned, no other user can have the same, an IRCC spokesperson explained. If a user no longer needs to use the system, their code becomes inactive.
The ministry has indicated that it is unable to delete user accounts that are no longer function since it would cause a loss of traceability.
Why IRCC has assigned files to inactive users or what happens with requests related to these codes does not ;is unclear. The department did not provide a response on this matter to CBC.
The department clarified that the processing of applications may involve more than one officer and that files may be transferred from one center to another for the sake of efficiency.