Assessment of an application for permanent residence

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.

Once it has been determined that the sponsor is eligible and meets all requirements, process the application by:

On this page

How to assess an application

Declaration and examination of family members

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), all family members must be declared – there are no exceptions.

With few exceptions, all dependants must be examined as part of the process for acquiring permanent residence.

Both the principal applicant and the principal applicant's dependants, whether accompanying or not, must meet the requirements of the legislation.

An applicant is expected to make reasonable efforts to ensure that their non-accompanying dependent child is examined. If the dependent child is not examined, an officer may consider requesting the following supporting documentation:

  • custodial papers granting custody to the other parent
  • a letter from the custodial parent (or from the child, if they are 18 years of age or older) explaining why the dependent child cannot be examined

Where an officer is satisfied that the applicant has tried but failed to have the non-accompanying child comply, the officer may determine whether there are sufficient grounds to waive the examination requirements on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds and have them sign a statutory declaration that does both of the following:

  • explains why the non-accompanying dependent child is not being examined
  • acknowledges that the applicant understands they will be ineligible to sponsor the dependent child under the family class in the future

See also

What to do if additional information is required

When additional information is required, send a letter to the applicant requesting that they submit documents or information within an established timeline.

If applicants do not respond within this timeline, the officer can continue processing the application in the absence of that information. If an officer decides that the application should be refused on the basis that the applicant did not provide the additional information requested, they must ensure they follow procedural fairness guidelines.

When to interview applicants

Interview applicants and their family members only when it is essential to ensure a thorough assessment of an application. Interviews may be required to:

  • confirm applicants' identities
  • confirm an applicant’s relationship to the sponsor or to other family members
  • clarify any questions about applicants' admissibility
  • resolve any uncertainties concerning information or documents submitted in the application

Interviews should focus on information essential to making a decision on the application. Ask applicants to bring documents that may be necessary or useful to help resolve any specific issues of concern.

If a relationship of convenience or a forced marriage is suspected, officers may wish to interview applicants and/or the sponsor separately, when appropriate and possible.

See Interviews and interpreters for more information.

Establishing identity and relationship

Family class applicants may establish their identity by providing a passport, travel document or identity document. A foreign national must be in possession of one of the travel documents identified in R50(1) in order to become a permanent resident.

Applicants may establish their relationship to the sponsor by providing a birth certificate, a baptismal record or a marriage certificate. Dependants may provide similar documents to establish their relationship to the principal applicant and/or the sponsor.

In the absence or unreliability of such documents, other types of official records may be acceptable, including but not limited to:

  • voter's registration lists
  • military records
  • expired passports
  • income tax forms
  • school records
  • household registries
  • hospital records
  • old immigration records
  • notarized letters from reliable bank officers, religious leaders, police authorities or civic and other government officials

See also Passport requirements for the Spouse or common-law partner in Canada class.

If a document does not definitively establish identity or relationship on its own, consider all the documents and compare them for consistency, reliability and relevance. Closely examine documents issued to replace lost or stolen documents or identity cards, or relationship documents that post-date the submission of the application. Unless they pre-date a person’s interest in immigration to Canada, statutory declarations may be self-serving.

It may help to compare documents with those provided by other members of the same family or against information in immigration files for the same family.

When in doubt, consult:

  • an applicant’s previous temporary or permanent resident application
  • IRCC’s online Country Information Library
  • a visa office likely to have knowledge of document fraud in a specific country of citizenship or residence
  • officials of the agency issuing the document

An applicant or dependant must make every reasonable attempt to provide documentary evidence to confirm a relationship. If they are unable to do so, an officer can counsel them that they have the option to undergo DNA testing at their expense.

Passport requirements for the Spouse or common-law partner in Canada class

Clients who are under a removal order or face enforcement proceedings for failure to enter Canada with a valid passport or required travel document are eligible for consideration under the spousal public policy, and can become members of the class, if they meet the remaining criteria under R124.

However, the spousal public policy does not include an exemption from the passport requirement. Clients cannot be granted permanent residence under R72 if they do not obtain a valid passport or travel document by the time IRCC is ready to grant permanent residence. Give clients the opportunity to obtain a passport or travel document before refusing the application for permanent residence on those grounds.

Normally, IRCC should accept only valid passports to grant permanent residence [R72]. However, officers may use their judgment to accept passports that have expired during processing when there are no concerns about identity. However, if there is evidence of misrepresentation under IRPA, officers may choose to refuse the application.

Under the public policy, applicants are excluded from being granted permanent residence when all of the following apply:

  • they used a fraudulent or improperly obtained passport, travel document or visa to gain entry into Canada
  • the fraudulent or improperly obtained document was not surrendered or seized upon arrival
  • the applicant subsequently used these fraudulent or improperly obtained documents to acquire temporary or permanent resident status
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