Operational Bulletin 356 - October 19, 2012

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Regulatory Changes to the Refugee Resettlement Program

Starting April 1, 2017, the functions of the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W), the Centralized Processing Office in Vancouver (CPO-V) and the Matching Centre will merge into the newly created Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O). The program delivery instructions are currently being updated to reflect these changes.

Summary

Regulatory changes to Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program came into force on October 19, 2012.

Issue

This Operational Bulletin provides information on these changes and procedures for both in-Canada and visa offices.

Background

As part of Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program, Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs), Groups of Five (G5s) and Community Sponsors (CSs) in Canada may submit applications to sponsor refugees from abroad.

The regulatory changes require that a permanent resident application be submitted along with a sponsorship undertaking to the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg. The changes also define what constitutes a complete application and allows Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to return both applications (permanent resident and sponsorship undertaking) if information is missing.

Further, the regulatory amendment limits G5s and CSs to sponsoring applicants who are recognized as refugees by either the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a foreign state. In order for the application to be considered complete, proof of this recognition is required upon submission of the sponsorship undertaking.

Note: These regulatory changes do not apply to Quebec as the province of Quebec has its own process for sponsoring refugees.

Procedures – Centralized Processing Office Winnipeg (CPO-W)

Applications received at CPO-W on or before October 18, 2012 will be processed according to the legislation that was in place at the time it was received.

As of October 19, 2012, all private sponsorship undertakings and applications for permanent residence from SAHs, G5s and CSs received at CPO-W that are incomplete will be returned to the person or group that submitted it.

Staff at CPO-W will use the document checklist found in the application guide to confirm that the applications are complete. If any of the documents listed in R153(1)(b),153(1.2) or 153(2) are missing from the application package, the application package will be returned in its entirety to the person or group that submitted it. A file will not be created.

For G5 and CS sponsorship undertakings and applications, staff at CPO-W will not verify the authenticity of a UNHCR or foreign state refugee recognition document. They will only verify that a copy of a UNCHR Refugee Certificate – Mandate Letter of Protection or a foreign state recognition document was submitted with the application package.

If it is suspected that a UNHCR or foreign state refugee determination document may have elements of fraud, detailed case notes should be entered in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) so that visa officers may refer to them if or when the application is received at the visa office.

Note: Neither a “UNHCR Asylum Seeker Certificate” or a “UNHCR Registration Card” is considered as valid proof of refugee recognition as these documents do not prove that the holder has been recognized as a refugee.

Only complete applications will be reviewed by an officer at CPO-W. Officers will make a decision on the sponsorship undertaking. The application for permanent residence will be reviewed for completeness only.

If the sponsorship undertaking is approved, a file is created and all sponsors will receive an acknowledgment of receipt letter that includes the in-Canada and overseas file numbers. In the case of a G5, each member of the sponsorship group will be sent a copy of the acknowledgment letter.

If the completed application is refused, sponsors (SAHs and each member of a G5) will receive a refusal letter.

CPO-W will scan the files (both approved and refused), save them in the Records, Document and Information Management System (RDIMS) and forward the approved file to the visa office.

Procedures — Visa offices

Visa offices will proceed according to normal office procedures with respect to reviewing files and scheduling interviews. Applicants should be informed in the convocation letters that they must bring their original UNHCR or foreign state refugee recognition document to the interview.

If, at the interview, the officer determines that the UNHCR or state refugee recognition document is not authentic or is suspected to be fraudulent, the visa officer should consult the local anti-fraud officer for first level fraud and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Liaison Officer for second level fraud and continue with the assessment of the application.

That an applicant has a fraudulent UNCHR or state refugee recognition document or has failed to produce the original one is not in and of itself sufficient grounds to refuse the application. It is a factor to consider along with all others weighing in the decision.

If, after the interview, the officer decides to refuse the application, full and detailed reasons for the decision must be given for refusal.

If the officer decides to accept the application despite determining that the document is not authentic, full and detailed reasons must be given for approval.

The weight given to any factor in a case is determined by the decision-maker. The task is to weigh the facts in a fair and impartial manner, considering both positive and negative elements. Officers should explain in the decision why one factor was considered over another. Officers should focus on factors which are directly applicable to the formation of the decision or those that are particularly significant to support the decision.

Application guide and forms

A new sponsorship undertaking form (IMM 5373) and application guide have been created, consolidating the previous SAH, G5 and CS undertakings. Please read the guide carefully to become familiar with what is required in this new process. The document checklist will be particularly useful.

A consent form (IMM 5729) has been included in the new application package in order to allow for the disclosure and collection of personal information from both the sponsors and applicants. This required form must be signed by both parties and included in a submission using the new application package.

The old sponsorship undertaking forms will continue to be accepted until June 30, 2013, as long as they are complete, and submitted with the permanent resident application forms for the sponsored refugees (IMM 6000). For G5 and CS undertakings only, a copy of a UNCHR Refugee Certificate – Mandate Letter of Protection or a foreign state recognition document must be included in the application, even if the sponsor is using the old application forms. Parties using the old sponsorship undertaking forms are not required to submit the new consent form.

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