Canada is Using Automation Tools to Fast-Track Work Permit Extension and PGWP Applications

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is set to expand the use of proven automation technologies to process work permit extensions and post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) in a more efficient way.

The tools are set to process applications under both categories according to their complexity and enable quicker decisions for some applicants.

“Automated tools are part of IRCC’s commitment to using technology responsibly to build a stronger immigration system for the benefit of all of our clients,” reads the Government of Canada website.

“Our tools are reviewed routinely to make sure they work as intended and that the results are consistent with applications that receive a full human review. Only an IRCC officer can refuse an application; the automated tools do not refuse or recommend refusing applications.”

The Triage Function

The tools’ triage function becomes responsible for most clerical and repetitive tasks that pertain to sorting applications using rules that are developed by IRCC officials and based on the legislative and regulatory criteria for the program. Files are directed to the correct officers for further processing based on office capabilities and officer expertise.


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This function allows immigration officers to focus on assessing applications and making their final decisions on the same.

The Eligibility Function

Routine applications are assessed for streamlined processing using this tool, which accelerates IRCC’s work.

The eligibility function gauges whether an application is a routine case during the review stage, and can determine whether an applicant is eligible for a work permit extension or PGWP using criteria set by IRCC officials.

Subsequently, the file is sent to an officer to determine if the applicant remains admissible to the country and to make the final decision on the application.

Applications without automatic eligibility approval may still be manually approved after an officer reviews their case.

In what it claims to be its commitment to “responsibly developing and deploying data-driven technologies in line with privacy requirements and human rights protection” – along with its furtherance of Canada’s Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision-Making – an algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) has been developed to assess the tools used for work permit extensions and PGWP issuances.

The AIA categorized systems’ impact levels as moderate, and many measures are emplaced to mitigate possible risks.

These include a review for potential discriminatory impacts, privacy and security elements built into the design of the tools, and the officers’ ability to overturn the tools’ decision.


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Extending a Canada work permit

Work permit holders whose permit is about to expire or in need of change need to apply to extend it or change the conditions on it.

This needs to be done at least 30 days before the current permit expires, and legally allows you, as a work-permit holder, to stay in Canada while your application is being processed.

To maintain status, it is important to note that the application needs to be received by IRCC before the current permit expires. The Department determines the date and time an application is received via two ways:

  1. If you apply online: You must submit your application before midnight UTC on the day your work permit expires.
  2. If you apply on paper: IRCC stamps paper applications the day they receive them at the case processing centre.
    • If IRCC receives an application after your work permit expires, they will count back seven days and use that as the day the permit was received.
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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.