ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 265 - January 21, 2011

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Interim Procedures for E-Mail Communication with Clients


This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides interim instructions regarding e-mail communication with applicants.


The Federal Court recently rendered a series of decisions with respect to e-mail communication between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and applicants during the application process.

The cases before the Federal Court all relate to the refusal of applications by CIC based on the applicant’s failure to comply with CIC’s e-mail request for additional documentation. Specifically, applicants in these cases claimed they did not receive the e-mail(s) from CIC requesting additional information on their applications and were, therefore, unable to comply with the request.

Using e-mail to communicate with applicants is fast, cost efficient, available 24/7, and is increasingly the communication channel of choice for applicants. Using technology to communicate with clients is also a key component of CIC’s modernization agenda for client service.

The underlying principle of these instructions is that when communicating using e-mail, the same protocol and precautions should be taken as when communicating via regular mail.


Officers are to continue communicating with applicants by e-mail, providing that CIC has the applicant’s consent to communicate via e-mail. Consent is given by an applicant when:

  • A completed application form includes an e-mail address.
  • An applicant supplies a signed Use of Representative Form (IMM 5476) that includes the representative’s e-mail address and also includes the Representative’s e-mail address under the “mailing address” section on the application form.
  • An applicant initiates e-mail communication with CIC, supplying an e-mail address.

Officers should follow the Scenario-based instructions outlined below to ensure that CIC effectively communicates with applicants via e-mail.

  • Scenario 1: Request for additional documentation / information
  • Scenario 2: File transfer
Scenario 1, Request for additional documentation / information
Step Action
1 Applicant chooses e-mail as a method of communication with CIC.
2 Based on the CIC Protocol on E-mail Communications with Clients, it is now open to CIC to communicate with the client via e-mail.
3 To reduce the possibility of undeliverable messages, officers should ensure that the e-mail address inserted in the recipient’s line is identical to the one provided by the applicant or representative. This practice prevents CIC e-mails from being rejected.
4 CIC sends an e-mail to the applicant requesting additional documentation within a reasonable period of time. If no response has been received from the applicant within the requested time period, officers will record the following notes in the appropriate processing system:

“An e-mail was sent to the applicant requesting additional documentation. The applicant was also advised that failure to provide the requested documentation may result in a refusal of the application. The applicant failed to comply with the request.”
5 Officers are encouraged to document all their activities in the appropriate processing system. Case notes include:

(1) the e-mail address to which the request was sent
(2) the date on which the request was sent
(3) the timeframe given to comply
6 It is recommended that e-mails to applicants requesting additional documentation or information be sent from an organizational mailbox.

Mailboxes should be monitored for undelivered messages. If an undelivered message is received, officers should:

(1) verify the e-mail address
(2) re-send the e-mail to the correct address and consider using other means of communication
Scenario 2, File Transfer
Step Action
1 Applicant chooses e-mail as a way of communication with CIC.
2 Based on the CIC Protocol on E-mail Communications with Clients, it is now open to CIC to communicate with the client via e-mail.
3 Officers should notify the applicant by e-mail with a copy to the new CIC office that the application will be transferred to a different office for processing.

Requests for re-consideration:

  • An officer may refuse an application for non-compliance if the applicant fails to comply with the request for additional documentation or information. In cases where applicants request re-consideration of their application stating that they did not receive an e-mail instructing them to provide additional information or documentation; officers should consider all the circumstances of the case and use their judgement in determining whether to re-open the application.
  • Given the uniqueness of each country and the variety of issues that could affect applicants’ communication with CIC; officers are encouraged to set a reasonable time limit for receipt of the documentation considering the local communication arrangements.

Please see OP 1 – Section 8 – Procedural fairness and the CIC Protocol on E-mail Communications with Clients.

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