Inland refugee claim processing procedures

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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The following are procedures for IRCC inland offices.

Initiating a claim

Effective September 13, 2022, a person, or their legal representative acting on their behalf, can initiate a claim for refugee protection inside Canada by using the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Portal to complete questions and submit documentation online, including the Basis of Claim (BOC) (PDF, 541 KB) Form.

If a person arrives at an inland office and indicates a need for refugee protection, they will be directed to view the Claiming refugee protection from inside Canada poster, which gives instructions on how to submit a refugee claim in Canada.

See the Intake instructions for additional information and details on requesting an exemption from the online process.

Data entry and completeness check

Paper-based claims

Paper-based applications are assigned to staff for manual data entry. When the client submits their completed application (including the Basis of Claim Form (PDF, 541 KB)) using the paper-based alternative process, office staff must verify that the application is complete (or nearly complete). Delegated IRCC staff will pull biographical data from the online application’s dashboard and perform an integrated search for each person listed in the forms. See GCMS Online Help, Overview: Search for more information on how to perform an integrated search.

A GCMS integrated name search must be performed using

  • name
  • gender
  • date of birth

If the claimant already exists in GCMS or the Field Operations Support System (FOSS), this allows staff to identify any known immigration history, including derogatory information on the claimant.

If the claimant is found only in FOSS, the officer promotes the person’s information from the FOSS database into GCMS, as per current instructions from GCMS Online Help.

If the claimant is not found in GCMS, staff must create them as a new client.

Once the claimant’s UCI has been identified or created in GCMS, a refugee claim application must be created. IRCC staff will enter biographical information, including aliases, into GCMS, and upload all documents submitted by the claimant from the online portal (Record of submission PDF, Basis of Claim Form, and identity documents) or via the paper-based process. These documents will be leveraged by other GCMS users (at the Immigration and Refugee Board [IRB], IRCC, and the Canada Border Services Agency [CBSA]), reducing the need for file transfers. For detailed information on scanning and saving, see the instructions for scanning and sharing documents.

If after completing a GCMS search, the client is found to be subject to a removal order, they cannot make a refugee claim. A letter will be uploaded into the IRCC Portal and the claim will be closed.

Note: The authorized representative must be added as a party to the application upon creation.

It is very important for families to be grouped together in GCMS, as this is what alerts the IRB to schedule the claimants together.

The Record of submission PDF provided by the claimant is not to be altered in any way. Any amendments are to be recorded, saved in GCMS notes and shared with the IRB. GCMS fields are to be updated, if applicable.

Duplicate claims

Claimants should only have one open REF-CLM application in GCMS. Processing staff are to follow the process below for duplicate claims where a client has an open REF-CLM application in GCMS that has been referred to the IRB, and has made a second claim via the IRCC Portal:

  1. Send the duplicate claim with the IRB letter (available in the T-drive) via the IRCC Portal to advise the client that they already have a claim in progress and their subsequent claim is being cancelled.
  2. Cancel the IRCC Portal claim.

Processing staff are to follow the process below for duplicate claims where a client has received a decision from the IRB on their claim, and has made a second claim via the IRCC Portal:

  1. Send the Multiple Claims letter (available in the T-drive) via the IRCC Portal to advise the client that they are ineligible to make a claim.
  2. Cancel the IRCC Portal claim.

Security screening

Paper-based claims

After data entry is complete, staff will submit security screening requests.

If the claimant is exempt from using the IRCC Portal, the Details of Military Service [IMM 5446] (PDF, 1.8 MB), Details of Police Service [IMM 0150] (PDF, 137 KB), and/or Details of Government Employment [IMM 0149] (PDF, 139 KB) forms should be submitted by the claimant at intake, if applicable.

See the Admissibility instructions for more information.

Document issuance

Acknowledgement of claim

Once the steps above are complete, the claimant will be issued an acknowledgement of claim (AOC) document. This document provides the claimant with proof that they have made a claim. It can be presented to medical professionals as proof of Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage until an eligibility decision is rendered and a Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD) is issued.

The client should also be provided with the Information pamphlet for refugee claimants (PDF, 74.7 KB).

Immigration medical examination (IME)

All refugee claimants in Canada must submit to an IME [R30(1)(e)].

Claimants must be provided with IME instructions. This allows claimants to schedule their IME with an IRCC panel physician. This form can be sent to the claimant via the document upload function in the IRCC Portal , or by mail or email if using the alternative process. If contacting the claimant by email, staff must only communicate with the email address provided in the IRCC Portal or the IMM 0008.


Claimants will be sent instructions for biometric collection and identity document submission. These instructions will inform clients to come into the office on a specific date and during a specified period of time with the required documents and 2 passport-sized photographs (if applicable), which are to be added to their file.

Biometrics and information sharing

As per section 12.2 of the Immigration Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), all refugee claimants aged 14 years or older should have their biometrics collected.

Biometrics and information sharing allow the Government of Canada to confirm a claimant’s identity and identify whether a claimant has an adverse Canadian or United States (U.S.) record. This helps maintain program integrity by searching against fingerprint records in the Canada and U.S. databases.

Manual biographic information sharing should occur for minors under 14 years of age only if their accompanying parents’ biometric information sharing reveals an ineligibility and the officer has a reasonable suspicion that sharing the child’s biographic information would reveal a similar ineligibility. This ineligibility can be confirmed by requesting copies of the parents’ asylum application from the partner country.

Fingerprinting and photographing vulnerable claimants and minors

All claimants 14 years of age and older must be photographed.

Vulnerable persons and minors may not be comfortable with the process of being fingerprinted and photographed. Religious and cultural sensitivities should be considered when taking photographs and accommodations made to the greatest extent possible.

Example: Women who cover their face or their head for religious or cultural reasons should be given the option of having their photograph taken by a female officer.

Explain the fingerprinting and photography procedures to children. Fingerprinting and photography of children should be done in the presence of their parents or legal guardians, when possible. A child who is not comfortable being photographed alone may be photographed with a parent or legal guardian.

See the following instructions for more information:

Document seizure

When documents are seized, staff will sign the Notice of Seizure of Travel and/or Identity Document(s) (BSF 698) form and provide the client with certified copies of the seized documents.

As part of the online application process, applicants have submitted an electronic copy of their identity documents. Officers will verify in GCMS that the documents submitted by the claimant match the documents seized. If the version submitted by the claimant is not clear or an error exists, officers must scan and upload a colour copy of the seized document into GCMS and print a certified copy for the claimant. Officers will then complete the necessary GCMS entries.


Once applications are ready for review, they will be assigned to triage staff. Assigned staff will conduct a GCMS case review, including reviewing the Client Application Summary PDF and biometric results and assessing the complexity of the case. If there are issues with biometrics (for example, if they are missing or poor quality), staff will decide if they will ask the client to return for biometrics collection. See Processing poor quality fingerprints for more information.


Claimants will be scheduled based on case complexity and language. IRCC staff will send an appointment letter electronically via the IRCC Portal to inform claimants of their appointment.

Claimants must be asked to bring their travel or identity documents, if they have not already been seized.


The interview serves several purposes:

  1. To ensure the individual understands that they are making a refugee claim and the impact that will have on any current status they may have.
  2. To ask the claimant whether they would like to modify or add to any of the information in the Client Application Summary (IRCC Portal). This will ensure that the claimant is given the opportunity to address any errors or issues with the information they provided.
  3. To gather any needed information about the claim and claimant; the interview is not adversarial and should be only for the purpose of information gathering and clarification.
  4. To conduct the Minister’s delegate review related to the section A44 report prepared with respect to the claimant.
  5. To counsel the applicant on the subsequent steps of the asylum process.

For more information on the interview process, refer to In-Canada claims for refugee protection: Interviews.

For more information when there is a case of possible interest for intervention, refer to Identifying cases for review and intervention.

Eligibility decisions

If eligible, the claim must be referred to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

It is expected that most eligibility decisions can be made on the day of the Minister’s delegate review.

The burden rests on a claimant to prove their claim is eligible [A100(1.1)].

If an officer suspects that a claim is not eligible, the claimant should be questioned about the facts supporting this suspicion. If the claimant maintains that their claim is eligible, and there are no contradicting facts, the claim should be found eligible and referred to the RPD. However, detailed notes should be entered about the officer’s concerns in the system.

A “Final” referral decision is then made on the application, which triggers the electronic referral to the RPD and creates the relevant documents:

  • Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD)
  • Confirmation of Referral

For groups, the Head of Family (HOF) must be referred first. A validation message will warn if this is not the case.

After the “Final” referral decision is set to “Referred,” staff must ensure that the transaction has gone to the RPD. This can be confirmed in the Ref Determination view.

The updated NOVA-GCMS interface allows for near real-time two-way connectivity between the GCMS and NOVA, including transmission of referral decisions.

Note: If a decision of “Referred” is recorded in error, it is important for staff to remove the decision and inform the impacted RPD office that the referral was made in error.

For more information on eligibility, refer to Eligibility for referral of in-Canada claims to the IRB.

Minister’s delegate review

Refugee claimants are generally considered to be inadmissible for non-compliance by virtue of the fact that they want to remain in Canada permanently, but do not have a permanent resident visa [A41(a) and A20(1)(a)]. All inadmissibilities should be considered, and multiple reports for the same individual may be prepared if multiple inadmissibilities exist. The section A44 inadmissibility report should be prepared in accordance with ENF 5 (PDF, 1.5 MB) guidance and procedures, even if it cannot yet be issued to the claimant (for example, because no interpreter is available). For more information on admissibility, see In-Canada refugee claims: admissibility.

After the A44 report is prepared, it must be referred for a Minister’s delegate review. The Minister’s delegate will determine if the report is well founded. If the Minister’s delegate is considering to issue a removal order, they will

  • conduct an interview with the claimant
  • discuss the allegation against them
  • make a decision
  • issue the appropriate removal order (if applicable)

If the allegation in the A44 report is not within the Minister’s delegate’s jurisdiction or if the report concerns an unaccompanied minor or a person unable to appreciate the nature of the proceedings, the Minister’s delegate must refer the report to the Immigration Division and suspend the claim.

Conditions may be imposed on the claimant.

Learn more

Document package

Once all documents are printed, finalized and given to the claimant, staff should ensure that the Application Status Reason in GCMS reads “Referred to IRB”. If it does not, it must be manually changed. Those whose claims are eligible must be given an IRB Claimant’s Kit, which is provided by the IRB, or referred to the IRB’s Claimant's Kit Web page Footnote 1 IRCC inland offices receive Claimant’s Kits absent a Basis of Claim (BOC) Form (as this will have already been submitted by the claimant). The kit contains a Notification of Client Contact Information form. The Notification of Client Contact Information form needs to be submitted to the RPD within 10 days. It only needs to be completed and submitted if the claimant was unable to list a permanent address on their other forms, or in the case of a change of address.

Electronic documents cannot be sent via Nova-GCMS Interface (NGI) until GCMS receives confirmation from the RPD that the claim has been received. If it takes more than 15 minutes to receive confirmation, the GCMS helpdesk should be contacted.

Table – Saving and attaching files to GCMS
Item Saved and attached to GCMS? Data loaded into GCMS?

Client Application Summary or Record of submission PDF

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Use of a Representative [IMM 5476] (if applicable)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


IMM 0008 (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence

Yes (2D barcode can be scanned to populate data)

Schedule 12 (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Schedule A (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence

Only if uploaded directly from a desktop

Details of Military Service form [IMM 5546] (PDF, 1,808 KB) (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal, if applicable)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Details of Police Service form [IMM 0150] (PDF, 137 KB) (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal, if applicable)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Details of Government Employment form [IMM 0149] (PDF, 139 KB) (only if claimant not using IRCC Portal, if applicable)

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Basis of Claim Form

Yes – Application Incoming Correspondence


Identity and travel documents

Yes – Client Screen Documents tab


Officer/interview notes (if applicable)



Note: It is acceptable to scan the IMM 0008, Schedule 12, Schedule A, Details of Military Service form, Details of Police Service form, Details of Government Employment form and other non BOC forms into GCMS as one attachment. The BOC and travel documents should be scanned individually.

Refugee claimants should be given the Information pamphlet for refugee claimants (PDF, 74.7 KB), which contains important information regarding IFHP coverage, work permits, etc.

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