CBC News previously reported that the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has assigned tens of thousands of applications to former immigration officers or dormant employee ID codes that are inactive and are no longer working within their system. According to the dataset received by the CBC, 59’456 applications were assigned to 779 inactive codes.
What are “inactive” codes?
Immigration officers become inactive once they are no longer using the system and they no longer have access. The dataset received by the CBC listed the inactive IRCC employees by their unique public code which is a mix of letters of numbers (i.e., AB12345) and their last login date, as well as how many cases they have been assigned.
As of February 2022, some of the oldest inactive codes which have on-going applications last logged into their accounts in 2006. Some of these immigration applications are now stuck in limbo as their applications are left largely left untouched for years. The applications assigned to inactive employee codes are a mix of former employees and computer placeholders. These employee codes are based around the world at Canadian airports, border ports, and processing centers. The cities with the highest number of inactive employee codes were Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Sydney, Nova Scotia. One inactive employee code, SM10353, based in Sydney, Nova Scotia has 9’540 applications assigned to it with their last login on March 23, 2021. It is unclear if they are a former employee or placeholder for processing. The employee code is a unique ID and no other user can have the same one.
What is going on?
According to Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, the process of assigning thousands of applications to former employees and placeholder codes is an ordinary part of the IRCC’s triage strategy as these employee codes are used to hold onto applications that have similarities. The Minister continued to state that the files all go into the department’s global system and the processing of applications may involve more than one officer. Applications can also be shifted to different processing centers for efficiency.
The IRCC is said to have started repurposing former employee ID codes in 2016 as they are unable to delete them. They use the former codes within its Global Case Management System (GCMS) as placeholders for applications. GCMS is the IRCC internal system that processes citizenship and immigration applications.
In these cases, placeholders are bins that hold applications in a queue while waiting for the next stage of processing. The IRCC also uses terms like “catchment area”, “group reference number” and “batch code”. These “bins” are similar to a mailbox at a physical office building and allow immigration officers to go in and pull applications depending on their classification.
When your file is assigned to these “bins”, it means that it is waiting for an immigration officer to work on it. It is also used as a “waiting area” if an immigration officer is waiting on another processing center/officier to complete a specific component of processing or when an application is being finalized. The length of time an application spends in these “bins” depends on the type of application. It can range from a few hours to a few months.
When an immigration officer leaves the IRCC, the cases they were assigned should be reassigned to another immigration officer with a similar specialty. There are frequent checks to make sure that those inactive codes are not assigned any open applications.
According to the CBC of the 779 inactive employee ID codes, the vast majority have been repurposed into holding “bins”. In addition, of the 59’456 applications assigned to these codes, 25’951 applications were received from these “bins”. The IRCC also clarified that applications are constantly moving in and out of these “bins” so the numbers change constantly and the number of applications in these “bins” may not be the same applications previously listed in the CBC dataset.
Unfortunately, the current system is confusing for those who have applications in processing because it is difficult to tell whether their applications are in these “bins” or actually stuck in limbo.