Receiving applications

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.

Government-assisted refugee (GAR)

GAR referrals are usually submitted to the visa office by the UNHCR.

Privately sponsored refugees (PSR)

The intake and in-Canada processing of PSR sponsorship applications is centralized at the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O).

Staff at the ROC-O will confirm that the applications are complete. If any of the documents listed in R153(1)(b), 153(1.2) or 153(2) are missing from the application package, the application package will be returned in its entirety to the person or group that submitted it. A file will not be created.

Only complete applications will be reviewed by an officer at the ROC-O. Officers will make a decision on the sponsorship undertaking. A permanent resident application must be submitted together with a private sponsorship undertaking to the ROC-O. The application for permanent residence will be reviewed for completeness only.

Further, G5s and CSs are limited to sponsoring applicants who are recognized as refugees by either the UNHCR or a foreign state. In order for the application to be considered complete, proof of this recognition is required upon submission of the sponsorship undertaking.

If the sponsorship undertaking is approved, a file is created and all sponsors will receive an acknowledgment of receipt letter that includes the in-Canada and overseas file numbers. In the case of a G5, each member of the sponsorship group will be sent a copy of the acknowledgment letter.

If the completed application is refused, sponsors (SAHs and each member of a G5) will receive a refusal letter.

The ROC-O will scan the files (both approved and refused), save them in the Records, Document and Information Management System (RDIMS) and forward the approved file to the visa office.

Note: This does not apply to Quebec as the province of Quebec has its own process for sponsoring refugees.

When an application is received at a visa office

General file creation inside of GCMS

For full details on general file creation inside of GCMS please refer to the GCMS User Guide articles on prospective file creation and creation of a real permanent resident – refugee application , available at all visa offices on the T drive.

Record refugee citizenship in GCMS

There has been a tendency to record refugees as stateless when, in fact, the majority of refugees are not stateless. There are limited populations worldwide recognized as stateless. As well, children tend to be recorded as having the citizenship of the asylum country in which they were born, when in most cases the child has the same citizenship as the parent(s). Do not confuse the refugee’s country of asylum with their country of citizenship.

Determining country of citizenship

  • If the country of origin is known
    • Then the country of citizenship should be the applicant’s country of origin, unless de jure statelessness can be established
  • If the applicant is a known citizen of another country
    • Then the country of citizenship should be the country of citizenship
  • If the applicant meets the definition of de facto statelessness
    • Then the country of citizenship should be the applicant’s country of origin or country of citizenship

      Note: Individuals are not recorded as stateless if they meet this definition.
  • If the applicant meets the definition of de jure statelessness
    • Stateless
    • Prior to recording a refugee as stateless, refer to the following definitions:
      • Nationality/citizenship
      • De facto statelessness
      • De jure statelessness
      • Statelessness
      • Country of last permanent residence (CLPR)
  • Recording a child’s country of citizenship
    • Then the country of citizenship should be that of the parents, unless it is certain that another country (e.g. the country of asylum) has granted the child citizenship or that the child is de jure stateless.

For more details please consult the GCMS User Guide article To add citizenship information (IMM), available at all visa offices on the T drive.

Identify processing priorities

Priority should be given as follows, for both the GAR and PSR caseload:

  • Priority 1-Urgent processing (UNHCR “emergency” equivalent): Cases identified as being in need of urgent protection. In such cases the immediacy of the threat to the physical safety of the refugee often necessitates removal from the threatening conditions within 3-5 days. If processing will take longer, visa offices must confirm with UNHCR that the person’s safety will not be jeopardized in the interim. Full procedures for urgent processing.
  • Priority 2-Expedited processing (UNHCR “urgent” equivalent): Cases where the applicant is considered vulnerable. Cases identified as vulnerable should be processed within a 1-4 months time frame. Full procedures for expedited processing.
  • Priority 3-Regular processing: Cases for which there are no urgent protection needs and none of the applicants are facing a heightened risk to their physical safety. These cases should be processed in the order they are received.

Note: A principal applicant with urgent protection needs may have family members who have been separated and who are not in need of urgent protection. However, the family members may be considered vulnerable because there is a risk of retaliation by the agents who were initially responsible for the principal applicant’s urgent protection needs. In such circumstances, the family members would be eligible for expedited processing.

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