Processing family class applications: Admissibility
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
An officer must make a decision on all sponsorship applications as to whether the person being sponsored is a member of the family class. After determining that an applicant is a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class, the processing office conducts medical, criminal and security examinations to determine if the applicant and all family members, whether seeking permanent residence or not, are admissible. For information about determining admissibility, including for misrepresentation, see also ENF 2/OP 18.
Applicants are required to submit applications in accordance with document checklists and instructions in application guides. However, officers continue to have the discretion to request additional documentation from the sponsor or applicant at any time during application processing to be satisfied that the applicant meets the legislative and regulatory requirements.
Applicants must declare all family members when applying for permanent residence. They must also declare any changes in their family composition that occur at any time during the application process up to the point where they are granted permanent resident status. Permanent residents and foreign nationals who did not declare all family members on an application may be inadmissible for misrepresentation [A40].
On this page
- Examination requirements versus admissibility assessments
- If a family member was examined and found to be inadmissible
Examination requirements versus admissibility assessments
Note: These replace any previous instructions.
There are distinct and separate provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) concerning the examination of family members and admissibility of family members.
All family members of applicants in the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in-Canada class who are described as dependants in the Regulations, whether accompanying or not, must be examined.
The examination includes a medical examination as well as a determination if they are inadmissible for criminal or security reasons. An officer may be satisfied that a non-accompanying family member is not inadmissible for criminality or security reasons based on information presented by the applicant. However, medical admissibility can only be determined once the family member has a medical examination. The determination of whether an inadmissible family member renders a principal applicant inadmissible or not is a separate issue which is covered in If a family member was examined and found to be inadmissible.
Applicants and their family members are medically examined to determine whether they may be inadmissible on the grounds that they are likely to be a danger to public health or to public safety or that they have a condition that might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services [A38(1)].
Subsection R30(1) lists the foreign nationals who are exempt from medical examination. There are no exemptions from this requirement for members of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class or their family members, accompanying or not. The only mechanism in the legislation that would allow a non-accompanying family member, such as a child in the custody of an ex-spouse, to not be medically examined is a humanitarian and compassionate consideration.
Instructions on medical examinations can be found in Medical requirements, including how to interpret medical results to determine if the applicant is inadmissible on health grounds and what steps to take before informing applicants that their application has been refused for medical reasons.
Exceptions to medical inadmissibility
Members of the family class are medically inadmissible if they are likely to be a danger to public health or to public safety or if they have a condition that might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services [A38(1)].
However, there is an exception to this medical inadmissibility. The following individuals cannot be found inadmissible on grounds that they might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services [A38(2)(a), R24]:
- a sponsored spouse, common-law or conjugal partner
- a sponsored child or child to be adopted
- a dependent child of a sponsored spouse, common-law or conjugal partner
Medical examinations for spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children
Spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children do not have to complete medical examinations before they apply. Through the online account – or via email or regular mail for those without an account – IRCC will instruct applicants and family members (whether accompanying or not) to complete an immigration medical examination (IME). They will have 30 days to complete it from the time they are notified. Failure to comply may result in the refusal of the application on the basis that the officer is not satisfied that the applicant is not medically inadmissible.
When the requirement to have a family member medically examined cannot be met
Note: These replace any previous instructions.
If a family member is not medically examined, the applicant may be refused for failing to satisfy an officer that:
- they are not inadmissible [A11(1) or A21(1)]; and
- they and their family members, whether accompanying or not, are not inadmissible [R70(1)(e) and R72(1)(e)(i)].
An applicant is expected to make a reasonable effort to ensure a non-accompanying dependant is examined. If an officer is satisfied that the applicant made a reasonable effort, but the non-accompanying dependant was unwilling or unable to be examined, the officer may determine whether there are sufficient grounds to waive these requirements on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.
In such cases, the applicant should be advised that a non-accompanying dependent child who was not examined would not be eligible to be sponsored by the applicant in the future as a member of the family class because they would be deemed to be excluded [R117(9)(d)].
Criminal and security checks
Members of the family class and their accompanying family members must not be inadmissible to Canada for security, human or international rights violations, criminality or organized criminality (sections A34 to A37).
Generally, applicants and family members 18 years of age or over must provide police certificates, clearances or records of non-conviction for the current country of residence, if the applicant has resided there for 6 months or more, and the country where the applicant has spent most of their adult life since the age of 18. If they were under the age of 18 when they lived in these countries, this information is not necessary.
An officer may still request additional police certificates for any additional countries in which the applicant may have resided.
If there are exceptional circumstances or sufficient unfavourable information, an officer may request security screening of a dependent child under 18 years of age. In such cases, ask the child to complete a Schedule 1 – Background/Declaration form in addition to the IMM 5406 (Additional Dependants). Enter notes in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) explaining an underage screening request.
For more information:
- Security and Criminal Screening of Immigrants: IC 1
- Evaluating Inadmissibility: ENF 2/OP 18
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the National Security Screening Division of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) perform security screening and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducts screening for criminal records on behalf of IRCC. The IRCC office handling the clearances will request security screening from partners using GCMS. Security screening results are valid for 48 months. If the results expire, the office must submit a new request for screening to partners through GCMS.
If, upon review, an applicant has passed eligibility but appears to be inadmissible under section A34, A35 or A37, decision makers are to request a comprehensive screening from partner agencies in GCMS. If the screening activity returns concerns, decision makers should transfer the application to the Centre of Expertise in Security Cases (CESC) at the Humanitarian Migration Office in Montreal for assessment. The CESC will render the final decision on the admissibility assessment.
An application may still be accepted for processing if the following applies:
- An applicant is unable to obtain a police certificate due to country conditions (for instance, a conflict, war zone or natural disaster), and a detailed written explanation has been provided.
- A country requires a consent form from IRCC to issue a police certificate. If a consent form is required, the consent form must be submitted to IRCC in place of the police certificate.
When the requirement to provide police certificates cannot be met
If the applicant fails to comply with a request for police certificates, an officer may:
- determine that, based on all available information, they are satisfied that the applicant is not criminally inadmissible;
- determine that, based on all available information, they are not satisfied that the person is not criminally inadmissible; or
- send a procedural fairness letter requesting they submit, within an additional 30 days, any outstanding police certificates or proof of best efforts to obtain them.
Important: To keep consistency with the General processing measures: COVID-19 program delivery instructions, applicants who cannot provide a police certificate due to COVID-19 will not be refused for non-compliance. When clients provide reasons why they are unable to provide a police certificate, the application should be kept on hold until such time as the 90-day period for the applicant to respond has expired or new general processing measures are published.
As a best practice, “all available information” includes, but is not limited to:
- all information in GCMS, including information-sharing details;
- the applicant's complete personal history, including gaps in and unexplained periods of unemployment that may have resulted from periods of incarceration;
- open-source information;
- extreme country conditions (e.g. war, danger zones) causing delays or making it impossible to obtain a police certificate;
- "best efforts" documentation of any attempts made to fulfill the request, including:
- a receipt proving they requested a police certificate, and a letter from the applicant explaining the delay and attempts to obtain it as early as possible; or
- a letter from the department that issues police certificates explaining why there is a delay or why a police certificate cannot be issued
If a family member was examined and found to be inadmissible
Note: These replace any previous instructions.
In most cases, an applicant will be found inadmissible on the grounds of having an inadmissible family member if that person, whether accompanying or not has been determined to be inadmissible [A42(1)].
An accompanying family member who is inadmissible will make the applicant inadmissible. Even if the family member is non-accompanying, there are circumstances under which the applicant is still inadmissible [R23]. These circumstances include non-accompanying family members who are:
- spouses, except if they are separated (in law or fact)
- common-law partners
- dependent children, of whom the applicant or their accompanying family member has custody or the power to act on their behalf
- dependent grandchildren, of whom the applicant or their accompanying family member has custody or the power to act on their behalf
In order to not be rendered inadmissible by a non-accompanying dependent child, the applicant must satisfy an officer either that they do not have custody or that they do not have the power to act on behalf of the child. This includes situations where another individual has sole legal custody or guardianship of the child. Depending on the circumstances, a court order or written agreement may provide sufficient evidence that the applicant does not have (or never had) custody or legal authority to act on behalf of the child.
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