If you have called the IRCC call centre any time in the last few years, chances are very good that you were unable to get through at all, waited on hold for up to an hour, or your call has been abruptly ended after you were already on hold for who knows how long.
Failure of Service
The Auditor General of Canada examined the IRCC call centre and released a report exposing these gaping holes in customer service of IRCC to its clients. The report outlined the following failures:
- 16 million people attempted to call the IRCC call centre in the period covered in the report
- 7 million calls were redirected to an automated system or disconnected
- 1 million callers hung up while on hold or stuck in the maze-like system of automated redirects
The IRCC call centre has been a source of frustration for Canadian immigration and citizenship applicants for years.
However, we didn’t know how good we had it until around 4 years ago, the Call Centre Modernization project initiated by the government department Shared Services Canada undertook to “improve” the IRCC call centre.
Prior to these “improvements,” callers could actually get through to an agent and wait times were an average of 20-ish minutes, instead of the 40 – 60 minutes you have to wait on average now. No automated system hung up on callers and eventually you got to talk to someone.
It appears that these basic service standards are a thing of the past.
Of the 400 call centres in Canada serving various government agencies, only have have received any actual upgrades and there is NO PLAN to upgrade the other half.
Beware of Bad Information
The quality of information disseminated by the call centre also appears to have gotten worse. We frequently hear clients advise us that they were given instructions or information by the IRCC call centre which we have to advise them is either not accurate or not in their best interest.
Remember that IRCC call centre agents, while hardworking and doing their best to assist you, are not IRCC or CBSA officers, do not know the law, and cannot take into account all of the variables effecting your situation.
The best they can do is give you general information, which you could have found on the website without having to wait an hour. In situations like this, the best case scenario is that you are inconvenienced, having wasted an hour of your time. The worst case scenario is that someone could be given misinformation that could cause them to miss a deadline or take incorrect action, negatively impacting their immigration application or even their status in Canada. Maybe for their next set of “improvements,” IRCC can change their phone number from1-888-242-2100 to 1-888-4NO-HELP.
When you need to know something right away about your immigration application, it is always a good idea to contact a reputable professional who will:
- Answer the phone
- Not hang up
- Answer your questions with information based on current laws and policy
- Make recommendations that are in your personal best interest