The Inefficiency of Requiring Perfection

by Ronalee Carey Law

July 2023

Last month, my office received a package from IRCC. In it were four applications. We had been hired by a Canadian citizen to obtain citizenship certificates for her children born in the USA. On one application, we failed to check the box indicating the child’s gender. In her review, the client also didn’t notice the unchecked box. All four applications were sent back to us because of the missing checkmark so that we could place a checkmark in the box, place all four applications back in a courier envelope, and return them to IRCC.


What a colossal waste of time and money on everyone’s part.


The IRCC officer could have checked the box themselves – the child’s US passport was provided, which indicates their gender.


The IRCC officer could have sent me an email asking for an updated form. I could have had it back to them within hours.


The IRCC officer could have accepted the three perfectly prepared applications for processing and only returned the one with the missing checkmark.


 Instead, I had to explain to my clients why two months of processing time were wasted because IRCC couldn’t implement any of these solutions to the problem of a missing checkmark.

 Working as a representative for clients in a system that demands 100% perfection is incredibly stressful. People hire me in the hopes that their applications will be processed quickly. But I, my staff, and my clients who must do the final review of their applications are all human. Sometimes we miss a checkmark.

 I don’t see how the policy of returning applications for simple administrative errors is efficient. An IRCC officer dedicated time to reviewing the applications, providing a letter explaining why they were being returned, and packaging them to send back to my office. Sending me an email asking for a new form would have taken a fraction of the time.

 The issue, in this case, was compounded by the fact that authorized representatives are still unable to submit citizenship applications electronically. Though unrepresented individuals have access to an online portal, lawyers are not permitted to use this portal to submit applications on their clients’ behalf. When an electronic application is ‘returned,’ it is easily resubmitted by uploading a new document or otherwise electronically addressing the issue. IRCC has not given a timeline for when a portal will be available for lawyers.