Humanitarian and Compassionate: Guidelines for note-taking

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

General guidelines for note-taking

Case notes must reflect that the totality of the evidence has been considered.

GCMS notes should represent a complete record of all action taken in the case. To the greatest extent possible, there should be no information that appears onlyon the paper file. Any notes that appear in GCMS should be accurate and consistent with what appears in the paper file and should not undermine or contradict the written decision.

You may use point form in most cases but sometimes it will be necessary to prepare more detailed notes.  Some examples of situations that may require more complete notes are as follows:

  • strong reactions by the applicant at the interview
  • interference from others present at the interview
  • issues that are crucial to the decision and considered particularly important.

General guideline for note-taking during case assessment and decision-making

Be clear and concise
  • use common language and avoid jargon
  • use complete words
  • avoid extraneous comments
Be objective
  • record the facts.
  • do not record opinions or interpretations of the facts.
Organize notes with explanatory headings so readers can follow the case history
  • examples of explanatory headings include:
    • paper file review
    • representation
    • interview
    • pending or outstanding information
    • decision
Record notes at the first available opportunity
  • record notes after any interaction with the client (whether by phone or in person) to make sure that they are clear and accurate
  • when required, revisions should be done as soon as possible
Record the interview
  • specify the start and finish times
  • indicate who was present
  • if an interpreter was used, include the name of the interpreter and their relationship to the applicant, language of interpretation and instructions given to the interpreter
  • make it clear who said what
  • point out the tone of the interview (e.g. was the applicant angry or upset?)
  • if the interviewing officer left the office during the interview, record this and provide an explanation
Notes should include
  • a summary of correspondence and communication;
  • the contents of all non-routine correspondence and/or the form numbers of routine correspondence sent
  • the date the note is added to file and the note-taker’s initials
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