Procedures for processing applications of separated minors


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

Cases involving separated minors should be expedited under the “vulnerable” processing guidelines. The preferred solution for most separated minor refugees is to reunite them with their immediate family. Reunification with immediate family relatives in Canada is desirable where there are none abroad. The officer should work closely with the UNHCR, and NHQ to determine whether resettlement is an appropriate solution for a separated minor refugee. In such cases the officer must ensure that long-term arrangements have been made for the care of the separated minor refugee in Canada. For this purpose, the IMM 5590 (Acknowledgment of Responsible Adult Form) must be signed by the prospective adult guardian at the time of the selection interview. By signing the form, the prospective adult guardian acknowledges having obtained information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) about the process for legal guardianship and the responsibilities it entails towards the child.

Where separated minors are without the protection of an adult guardian, officers must be alert to the risk to which the children may be exposed if there are delays in the finalization of the application for permanent residence. Officers should arrange for the expedited medical examination of children [under the age of 18 years] where the particular circumstances give rise to a heightened risk to their physical safety. Once the medical examination is completed, or where rapid medical clearance is not feasible and the child is at risk, officers should consider the option of early entry into Canada through the use of a temporary resident permit.

At the present time, there is a moratorium on resettling separated minors, with exceptions being made for minors that are de facto dependants, consanguineous minors, or separated minors in exceptional circumstances where resettlement to Canada is in their best interests.

Cases involving separated minors without a de facto family or blood relative in Canada are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and by program:

Government assisted refugee (GAR) and Joint assistance sponsorship (JAS)

For PSRs, a JAS can apply if, upon meeting the blood relative, the officer determines that the relative does not have the resources necessary to care for the minor without additional support.

Process abroad-Visa office

  1. Referrals from the UNHCR of separated minors with blood relatives in Canada shall include a best interests determination (BID) indicating that it is in the best interests of this minor to be united with the specified relative currently residing in Canada. Where possible, the visa office applies expedited processing when the principal applicant is under 18.
  2. The visa officer consults the minor about their prospective resettlement solution. The minor is given the opportunity to express their views regarding the arrangements being made for them. These views should be noted on the file.
  3. The visa office requests the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) to contact the local IRCC office to inform them that there is a consanguineous minor in process to be united with a relative in Canada. The local IRCC office will contact the relative in Canada to determine if they are able to provide care and support for the child without additional support. If not, the case can be referred for a JAS.
  4. The visa office flags, in the subject line, the PA file as having consanguineous minors (specifically a separated minor) when the destination matching request (DMR) is forwarded to the ROC-O or when submitting the request for a JAS to the ROC-O.

In-Canada process

Local IRCC office
  1. checks for contact information for the province where the relative and minor will reside.
  2. contacts the relative to confirm that they understand their responsibilities as guardian of the child once in Canada. It makes sure the relative understands that as guardian they will be responsible for the care and protection of the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority in the province in which they reside. It encourages them to secure legal guardianship, letting them know that the RAP officer (for GARs) will be in touch with information on how to initiate that process once the child arrives in Canada.
  3. where necessary, has the relative sign the Acknowledgement of Responsible Adult Form [IMM 5590] indicating that they understand their responsibilities as guardian of the minor at the time of the interview
  4. where necessary, has the relative sign the Immigration Loan/Contribution form [IMM 0500E].
  5. for JAS only, when approached by an interested sponsor, ensures that the sponsor understands their role in assisting the family to follow through with the guardianship process. It provides the sponsor with the guardianship information relevant to that province. It confirms the undertaking.
  6. if applicable, informs the RAP service provider or sponsor that a consanguineous minor will be arriving to be united with a relative in Canada. It provides the RAP service provider/sponsor with the necessary guardianship information for use during the orientation.
  7. informs the provincial director of child welfare that a separated minor will be resettled with a family member in their province.
  8. contacts the ROC-O and the visa office recommending that the case be converted to a JAS or informs the ROC-O and the visa office to proceed with the case.
NHQ/ROC-O – JAS only

The JAS case will be posted on the Web site with a recommended destination. The ROC-O indicates on the file, and forwards to the local IRCC office, that this is a situation of a consanguineous minor being united with a relative in Canada. The relative will rely on the sponsor for support to provide care for the minor and help in following through with the process to become a legal guardian.

Visa office

Once all the steps are complete, the visa office forwards the NAT to the ROC-O indicating in the subject line that the PA is a separated minor and whether or not an overnight stop is required.

Arrival of the minor

Local IRCC office/RAP SPO

The RAP officer will make arrangements with the relative to go over the details involving RAP and guardianship, if applicable.


Local IRCC office
  1. The local IRCC office will conduct a monitoring interview with 100% of the cases (as part of their regular monitoring requirements) 7 months after their arrival. This will include a reminder to the relative of the importance in following through with the guardianship process. Where necessary, the local IRCC office will re-supply the relative with the guardianship information.
  2. If there are any concerns regarding the safety of the child, the local IRCC office checks the Intranet for information on how to report abuse in that province.
  3. The Integration and Settlement Assistance plan (ISAP) worker should be made aware of the guardianship issues related to the family and should reinforce the importance of initiating the guardianship process.
  4. The local IRCC updates the ROC-O once the monitoring interview has been completed and the file is closed.

Making travel arrangements

Visa office

The visa office will confirm with the IOM that the minor, if under the age of 10, is not travelling alone for any portion of the trip. Once tentative arrangements are made, the visa office will forward the information to the local IRCC office.

Local IRCC office

  1. The local IRCC office will confirm with the relative that they can meet the minor at the POE or, if necessary, can meet the minor en route. If the relative is unable to meet the minor, they will be informed that this travel arrangement will be cancelled and alternate plans will be made to send the minor at a later date when the minor can be accompanied for the duration of the trip and received at the POE.
  2. If the arrangements meet the travel policy requirements, the local IRCC office will inform the visa office that all is confirmed and instruct them to proceed.
  3. If alternate arrangements have to be made, the local IRCC office will inform the IOM Ottawa office that alternate arrangements are necessary. The IOM Ottawa will work with the IOM overseas and the local IRCC office to finalize arrangements. When arrangements are finalized the local IRCC office will ensure that the visa office is informed.
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