What is the Canadian Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?

Updated: Jun 08, 2023 | Tags: IRCC, Canada eTA


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is a department of the Canadian federal government that plays a pivotal role in the nation's social and economic fabric. The department has a broad scope, encompassing everything from processing immigration applications to establishing immigration policies and regulations.

History of IRCC

Formed in 1994 as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the department was renamed IRCC in 2015 to underscore its expanded role of addressing refugee matters. Over the years, IRCC has worked on the principles of upholding Canada's humanitarian tradition, promoting the benefits of immigration, and protecting refugees and vulnerable individuals.


The IRCC's mandate spans several areas, but its key responsibilities revolve around immigration, refugees, and citizenship. It develops immigration and citizenship policies, handles immigration and refugee applications, and provides newcomers with resources to integrate into Canadian society. The IRCC also grants citizenship, issues travel documents (like passports), and works closely with provinces and territories on immigration matters.

Funding and Control

The IRCC is funded by the Canadian federal government, with its budget determined as part of the country's annual budgetary process. As a federal government department, it operates under the political executive control of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. The Minister is responsible for ensuring the department fulfills its mandate and is held accountable to the Parliament of Canada.

Processing of Visa and eTA Applications

One of the IRCC's significant roles is processing visa and Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) applications. When processing visas, it assesses the applicant's admissibility based on health, security, and other relevant factors. The type of visa - such as visitor visa, student visa, or work permit - also determines the processing parameters.

The eTA application process, on the other hand, is a simpler, more streamlined process. Most visa-exempt foreign nationals need an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada. This digital document is electronically linked to an individual's passport and is valid for up to five years. Most applications are approved within minutes following a light-touch pre-travel screening.

Other Relevant Information

Beyond its main roles, the IRCC also contributes to international policy-making, often working with other nations and international bodies to address global migration and refugee challenges. Furthermore, it also plays a key role in fostering multiculturalism and diversity within Canada, ensuring the cultural, social, and economic benefits of immigration are maximized.

The IRCC has been instrumental in several humanitarian efforts. Notably, in 2015-2016, the department expedited the processing of Syrian refugee applications, resulting in the resettlement of thousands of Syrian refugees in Canada.


In conclusion, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is an integral part of Canada's government machinery, upholding the nation's values of diversity and inclusivity. It is continually working to improve its programs and services, making them more efficient, and enhancing the overall immigration experience. By balancing the need for border security with the economic necessity for skilled labor and the humanitarian call to shelter refugees, the IRCC continues to shape Canada's diverse and multicultural identity.