Communicating with applicants and sponsors
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.
Traditional modes of communication such as postal delivery may be unreliable in places where refugee applicants live. Refugee applicants with no fixed address may have to depend on others to receive mail or telephone calls on their behalf. Whereas resettlement partners such as UNHCR and the IOM facilitate communications with government-assisted refugees (GARs), communicating with PSR applicants can be more challenging.
The following general guidance, templates and resources will help Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) communicate clearly and consistently while handling some of the challenges that accompany refugee resettlement processing.
General best practices and expectations
It is a best practice to involve sponsors when sending communications to PSR applicants. Sponsors usually maintain regular contact with the refugees they sponsor, and they are responsible for passing on information sent by the visa office. Copying the sponsor on all PSR case correspondence increases the likelihood that applicants will receive and comply with IRCC requests, including showing up for interviews. Sponsors also play an important role in ensuring that completed application forms, supporting documents, and case updates reach the visa office.
Visa offices are expected to be flexible and make reasonable efforts to contact clients. To increase the likelihood that refugee applicants receive information at each processing step so that they can in turn comply with requirements, visa offices are encouraged to explore communication options other than mail. These could include sending correspondence by e-mail to applicants and sponsors who have been authorized to receive information relevant to the case, or following up an interview convocation letter with a call or text message to a mobile phone.
Sending benchmark letters to private sponsors
E-mail is also an efficient means of sending the mandatory benchmark letters. IRCC is required to send two notifications to sponsors during the processing of each PSR case:
- the first sent by the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) when the application is received (the acknowledgement of receipt, AOR); and
- the second sent by the visa office when a selection decision is made (the refusal letter or confirmation of approval in principle).
As long as the authorization on the IMM 0008 Schedule 2 Part D has been signed (or there is an IMM 5476 “Use of Representative” or IMM 5475 “Authority to Release Personal Information” form on file in favour of the sponsor), copies of all letters including the AOR, document request, interview convocation (if feasible), status update, confirmation of approval and refusal can be sent to:
- the Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), constituent group, group of five, or community sponsor (wherever an e-mail address has been provided on the undertaking); and
- the refugee applicant(s).
Notification of a positive selection decision should likewise be e-mailed to the ROC-O and sponsors. Applicants, if not advised at interview that their application was approved in principle, can be advised by attaching a generic letter to the medical form which explains the decision, next steps, and includes a reminder to declare any changes to family composition.
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