Procedure: One-year window of opportunity provision – Government assisted and privately sponsored refugees

These instructions apply only to the OYW provision process for permanent residents who arrive under the government‑assisted and privately sponsored refugee streams.

Every effort should be made to ensure that families are not separated or, if separation is unavoidable, that reunification is facilitated to the greatest extent possible.

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Clients

Under the OYW Program, non-accompanying family members may be eligible to be processed as dependants of the permanent resident who arrived in Canada as a refugee within the past year. All family members must have been declared on the permanent resident’s application to be eligible for OYW processing.

OYW applications may involve the following 3 types of clients:

Permanent resident in Canada:
The permanent resident in Canada is the person who has already arrived in Canada and is now submitting an application for their family member abroad to join them in Canada.
Principal applicant:
The principal applicant is the family member abroad of the permanent resident in Canada who is applying for permanent residence, under the OYW Program.
Dependant of the principal applicant:
The dependant of the principal applicant is a person who, in respect to the principal applicant, meets the definition of family member set out in subsection 1(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

Learn more definitions from the resettlement glossary.

About the provision

Under the OYW Program, family members derive their status from the permanent resident in Canada, so the principal applicant and dependants do not need to meet the definition of Convention refugee [A96] or country of asylum class [R147] in their own right. They are processed in the government-assisted refugee or privately sponsored refugee category, depending on the category in which the permanent resident was processed before arriving in Canada.

OYW applicants are not found to be refugees in their own right, and permanent resident visas are issued instead, based on the OYW applicant’s relationship with the permanent resident in Canada who was determined to be a refugee.

Forms

The permanent resident in Canada must submit the complete OYW application package to the ROC-O within 1 year of arriving in Canada as a permanent resident.

The IMM 5578 guide provides instructions on how to submit an application and lists the required forms. The application is considered submitted only once a complete OYW application package has been sent to the ROC-O by mail or email.

Coding and systems

The special program code “OYW” must be entered into the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to ensure that the Confirmation of Permanent Residence is correctly coded.

Eligibility

Eligibility of the permanent resident in Canada

The permanent resident in Canada must have been authorized to enter Canada as a member of either of the following:

  • Convention refugees abroad class
  • Country of asylum class

The permanent resident must submit the application to the ROC-O within 1 year of arriving in Canada as a permanent resident.

The principal applicant must reside in a province other than Quebec. Learn more about the OYW process for Quebec.

Eligibility of the principal applicant

Sections R141 and R142 set out the requirements for the OYW Program. To be accepted, the following requirements must be met:

The principal applicant must have been included on the application of the permanent resident in Canada or declared before their departure for Canada – Paragraph R141(1)(a)

This means that the permanent resident in Canada must have, at some point during their application, told IRCC about their relationship with the principal applicant. For example, this may have been done on any of the forms, on the refugee referral form from the UNHCR or during the interview.

Note: Declaring the principal applicant at the port of entry (POE), when the permanent resident arrives in Canada, does not satisfy the requirements of the OYW Program, as the principal applicant must have been declared before the permanent resident’s departure for Canada. However, the principal applicant may be eligible under the family class.

An OYW application must be submitted to IRCC within 1 year of refugee status being conferred on the permanent resident in Canada – Paragraph R141(1)(b)

Paragraph A95(1)(a) clarifies that refugee status is conferred on a person when they become a permanent resident, under a visa issued for protection reasons. This means that refugee status is conferred on a person at the POE, when they arrive in Canada.

Applications must be submitted to the ROC-O within 1 year of refugee status being conferred on the permanent resident in Canada.

Note: If an IRCC office abroad receives an OYW application, they should date‑stamp the application and return it to the applicant with instructions to submit the same application to the ROC-O. The ROC-O should honour the IRCC office abroad’s date‑stamp as the received date.

The family member is not inadmissible – Paragraph R141(1)(c)

If the principal applicant is found to be inadmissible on an OYW application, the permanent resident in Canada is not inadmissible under section A42 because they are a protected person. The family member remains inadmissible to Canada, and their application and the application of any dependants should be refused. However, this finding has no bearing on the status of the permanent resident in Canada.

The principal applicant must be the subject of a sponsorship undertaking, and the officer must be satisfied that there are adequate financial arrangements for resettlement from the sponsor in place – Paragraph R141(1)(d) (only for privately sponsored refugees)

For cases where a dependant was declared but was not included on the undertaking, the ROC-O should request that the dependant be added to the undertaking. If the sponsor refuses to add the dependant or does not meet the criteria outlined in section R154, the application may be refused, under paragraph R141(1)(d), as the principal applicant is not named on an undertaking. No procedural fairness letter (PFL) should be sent to the permanent resident in Canada or principal applicant to find a replacement sponsor. The permanent resident in Canada may still be eligible to sponsor their dependant under the family class.

For cases where a dependant was not declared, and the Migration Program manager abroad has used their delegated authority under section A25 to overcome paragraph R141(1)(a), migration offices should notify the ROC-O, which should contact the sponsor to add them to the undertaking. If the sponsor refuses to add the dependant, the application may be refused, under paragraph R141(1)(d), as the principal applicant is not named on an undertaking. No PFL should be sent to the permanent resident in Canada or principal applicant to find a replacement sponsor. The permanent resident in Canada may still be eligible to sponsor their dependant under the family class.

For cases where the sponsor is in default, officers should verify the financial situation of the permanent resident in Canada to ensure that adequate financial arrangements for resettlement are in place. The ROC-O should send a PFL to the sponsor to inquire about how the sponsor will be able to provide adequate financial arrangements, given that they are in default. If the officer is not satisfied that the necessary arrangements are in place, the application may be refused, under paragraph R141(1)(d). While the sponsor is in default, the undertaking is still valid, and the principal applicant and dependants are still considered to be named on an undertaking. However, the officer must be satisfied that adequate financial arrangements are in place.

This applies only to Quebec cases Paragraph R141(1)(e)

Learn more about the OYW process for Quebec.

The principal applicant must have met the definition of family member, as defined in subsection R1(3), during the application of the permanent resident in Canada – Section R142

The principal applicant must have been the spouse, common-law partner, child or grandchild of the permanent resident in Canada during the application of the permanent resident in Canada.

For grandchildren, officers must consider subsection R70(5): “if a permanent resident visa is not issued to a child as an accompanying family member … a permanent resident visa shall not be issued to [the grandchild]”.

Children born or adopted after the permanent resident in Canada becomes a permanent resident do not meet section R142 or paragraph R141(1)(a), so they are not eligible in their own right to apply under the OYW category. However, they may be included as a dependant on the application of an eligible family member. If there is no eligible family member applying under the OYW category, the child may be eligible to be sponsored under the family class. Learn more at Family class: Dependent children.

Example: A permanent resident in Canada, declared to be married with no children, arrives in Canada and submits an application for their spouse under the OYW category and now declares that the spouse has given birth. In this case, the child is not eligible under the OYW category in their own right, as they do not meet section R142 or paragraph R141(1)(a). However, they are eligible as the dependant of the spouse and, therefore, can be included as a dependant of the spouse on the OYW application if the spouse is eligible and not inadmissible. As the spouse was declared on the application of the permanent resident in Canada, the spouse should have declared their dependant. If they failed to declare their dependant, credibility issues may be raised regarding the bona fides of the relationship.

The principal applicant must continue to meet the definition of family member, as defined in subsection R1(3), during the application of the permanent resident in Canada and until the OYW application is finalized – Section R142

Spouses and common-law partners

The relationship must have met the IRPA requirements during the processing of the application of the permanent resident in Canada and continue to meet the requirements until the OYW application is finalized. This means that the permanent resident in Canada and principal applicant must have been married or lived together for at least 1 year before the departure of the permanent resident to Canada. In addition, it must have been a bona fide relationship at the time of that application and must continue to be a bona fide relationship until a decision is rendered on the OYW application.

Children

Children must meet the definition of a dependent child during the processing of the application of the permanent resident in Canada and continue to meet the definition, with the exception of age, until a decision is rendered on the OYW application. Subsection R25.1(8) states that the age of a child is “locked in” at the received date of the application of the permanent resident in Canada. If a child met the age requirement for dependency on the lock-in date but now would no longer meet it because they are older, the child still meets the requirement. For example, a child was 18 years old at the lock-in date of the application of the permanent resident in Canada. The OYW application is submitted, and the child is now 24 years old and is not married or in a common-law relationship. The child still meets the requirements of section R142 and of the OYW Program by virtue of subsection R25.1(8).

To meet the requirements of a dependent child, the child cannot be married or in a common-law relationship. This factor applies to the situation of the child during processing of the application of the permanent resident in Canada and at the time the decision on the OYW application is being made. If a dependent child met the requirements during the application of the permanent resident in Canada and then subsequently got married before the approval of the OYW application, the child is no longer eligible, as they no longer meet the definition of a dependent child set out in section R2. Similarly, if a child was married during the processing of the application of the permanent resident in Canada and subsequently got divorced, they are not eligible under the OYW category, as they did not meet the definition of a dependent child during the application of the permanent resident in Canada.

Note: The requirement of section R142 for the age exemption of a child applies only if the child meets the requirements of section R141. If a child is included on an application only as a dependant of the principal applicant and does not meet all the requirements of section R141, then the age exemption does not apply.

Example: A permanent resident in Canada declared a spouse but did not declare any children. An OYW application is submitted for the spouse (principal applicant) and a child who is the biological child of both the permanent resident in Canada and principal applicant. The child does not meet the requirements of paragraph R141(1)(a), as they were not declared. Therefore, they do not meet the eligibility requirements of the OYW Program. The spouse was declared, though, so the child can be included in the application as a dependant of the spouse. However, as the child does not meet the OYW criteria, the age exemption, under section R142, does not apply. In this case, the dependant must meet the age requirement for dependency at the time the OYW application is submitted.

De facto dependants

De facto dependants are not eligible under the OYW Program, as they do not meet the definition of family member outlined in subsection R1(3).

Admissibility

As with all applications, the principal applicant and their dependants must meet the statutory requirements (medical, security and criminal), under Division 4 of the IRPA. IRCC offices abroad should proceed with normal admissibility screening, as with any application.

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Since an application under the OYW Program is not an application for refugee protection, these applicants are not protected persons.

This has 2 main implications for admissibility screening:

  1. Misrepresentation (section A40) – The exemption under section R22 for misrepresentation (section A40) does not apply to a person applying under the OYW Program. A person applying under the OYW Program may be found inadmissible under section A40 for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of the IRPA.
  2. Medical examinations for dependants: All accompanying and non-accompanying dependants are required to undergo medical examinations. Paragraph R30(1)(f) exempts non-accompanying dependants of people who have applied for refugee protection from this requirement. As OYW applications are not applications for refugee protection, paragraph R30(1)(f) does not apply, and non-accompanying dependants of OYW applicants are not automatically exempt from the requirement to undergo a medical examination. Officers should use discretion in cases where applicants indicate that their non-accompanying dependants are not able to be examined and should examine these cases sympathetically.

Application process

Step 1: Application submission

All government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee OYW applications must be submitted to the ROC-O. Applicants and sponsors can submit the application by either mail or email. The principal applicant must follow the instructions found in the IMM 5578 guide. If the application is incomplete, the ROC-O should contact the permanent resident in Canada and inform them of the documents that are missing. If the information is not received within 30 days, the application is refused (a subsequent application will have a new received date, which may affect eligibility).

When an application is received, the ROC-O sends an initial acknowledgement of receipt (AOR), and either of the following actions takes place:

  • For mailed applications – The AOR is sent by email to the permanent resident in Canada and the applicant by the assistant who received the application.
  • For emailed applications – The AOR is sent as an auto-reply email by the ROC-O mailbox to the email address from which the application was submitted.

Note: The initial AOR does not contain an application number.

For all government-assisted refugee applications, the ROC-O sends an email to the IRCC local office to advise them that an OYW application was submitted for a government-assisted refugee.

If an IRCC office abroad receives an OYW application, they should date‑stamp the application and return it to the applicant, with instructions to submit the same application to the ROC-O. The ROC-O should honour the date from the IRCC office abroad stamp as the received date.

Step 2: Application creation and pre-assessment and AOR

An assistant at the ROC-O creates the application in GCMS. The assistant does a pre-assessment of the application to summarize the information the officer requires to determine if the applicant meets the basic eligibility criteria of the OYW Program. The assistant sends an AOR by email to the permanent resident, applicant and sponsor. This AOR contains the application number.

If the applicant was declared on the application of the permanent resident in Canada and declares to meet the definition of family member but was not included on the original undertaking, the assistant should request that the sponsor include the applicant on the undertaking before transferring the application to an officer. At this stage, no verification of the relationship is done, and the decision taken is based on the declaration of the applicant. If the sponsor refuses to add the dependant, the ROC-O renders a decision on the application under paragraph R141(1)(d). No PFL should be sent to the permanent resident in Canada or principal applicant to find a replacement sponsor.

Step 3: Officer review

An officer at the ROC-O reviews the application for eligibility requirements of the OYW Program.

The officer assesses all of the following:

  • paragraph R141(1)(a), whether or not the principal applicant was declared during processing of the application of the permanent resident in Canada
  • paragraph R141(1)(b), whether or not the application was submitted within 1 year of the permanent resident arriving in Canada
  • paragraph R141(1)(d), whether or not the applicant is included on the sponsorship undertaking
  • subsection R1(3), whether or not the applicant declares to meet the definition of family member (spouse, common-law partner or child of the permanent resident in Canada)

The officer at the ROC-O does not review documents to establish identity (for example, birth or marriage certificate).

The decision by the ROC-O officer is based solely on the declaration of the applicant. The review of all documents and determination of eligibility is done by the IRCC office abroad.

If the officer is satisfied that the applicant meets the criteria of the OYW Program, the application is transferred to the IRCC office abroad that processes applications for the applicant’s country of residence. A notification is sent to the permanent resident in Canada, principal applicant and sponsor to inform them (which will include the application number). For government-assisted refugee cases, the local IRCC office is copied to advise them of the pending OYW application.

If the officer is not satisfied that the applicant meets the criteria of the OYW Program, the application is refused. The officer sends a refusal letter to the permanent resident in Canada, principal applicant and sponsor to inform them of the decision. The application is not transferred to an IRCC abroad office, and the application is closed.

Step 4: IRCC office abroad

Eligibility

The IRCC office abroad reviews identity documents and proof of relationship and determines if an interview is required. The IRCC office abroad renders the eligibility decision.

Admissibility

The IRCC office abroad assesses the admissibility of the applicant and may request additional documents. A request for a medical examination is sent to the applicant as well. Standard procedures for admissibility screening should be followed. The IRCC office abroad renders admissibility decisions.

Step 5: Final stage

Once the migration officer is satisfied that the applicant is eligible and is not inadmissible, the application can be finalized. The IRCC office abroad, in cooperation with partners (for example, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), then arranges for transportation. The applicant is contacted with travel arrangements, once completed. Depending on the country of nationality and residence, the principal applicant may be asked to submit a passport, or IRCC may issue a single‑journey travel document. Some countries require that exit permits be obtained before departure. Costs, processing times, procedures for exit permits and final preparations vary greatly. The IRCC office abroad provides the applicant with more information at this stage.

Withdrawal requests

When a request is received from the permanent resident in Canada

In an OYW application, the permanent resident in Canada is not the sponsor and, therefore, cannot withdraw an application. However, the request to withdraw should raise concerns for officers in the following cases:

  • Spouse – If the permanent resident in Canada requests to withdraw an OYW application for their spouse, the officer should consider whether the relationship is a bona fide relationship or not a genuine relationship. In these cases, the officer may wish to refuse the application, under section R142, as the spouse does not meet the definition of family member by virtue of section R4.
  • Minor child – If the permanent resident in Canada requests to withdraw an OYW application for their minor child, the officer should consider whether or not the minor child has the consent of both parents to immigrate to Canada. While the permanent resident is located in Canada, the child still requires the consent of both parents to submit an application and immigrate to Canada. As the permanent resident in Canada has expressed an interest in withdrawing the application, the minor child does not have their consent to immigrate to Canada. As such, the minor is not considered to have signed the application as both parents have not signed on their behalf. The application should be refused, under paragraph R10(1)(b) and section A11.
  • Adult child – If the permanent resident in Canada requests to withdraw an OYW application for their adult child who meets the definition of section R2, the IRCC office abroad should contact the ROC-O. The ROC-O verifies that, in light of the permanent resident in Canada’s request, the sponsor is still willing and able to provide adequate financial arrangements for resettlement of the principal applicant. If not, the applicant does not meet the requirements of paragraph R141(1)(d), and the application may be refused. In these cases, however, the sponsor may be found to be in default of their obligations. The ROC-O takes the necessary action to inform the Resettlement Services Assurance Team (RSAT) of the case. For government-assisted refugee files, the ROC-O verifies that settlement services are available for the applicant. Once the settlement services are confirmed, the IRCC office abroad is informed that processing may continue.

When the request is received from the sponsor in Canada

The sponsor of the OYW application is the same organization that sponsored the permanent resident in Canada. Paragraph R141(1)(d) requires that an OYW applicant be the subject of a sponsorship application and that an officer be satisfied that there are adequate financial arrangements for resettlement in place. If the sponsor requests to withdraw the application, then it is more likely than not that there is not adequate support in place for the OYW applicant in Canada, and the application may be refused, under paragraph R141(1)(d). In these cases, however, the sponsor may be found to be in default of their obligations. If the request to withdraw is sent by the sponsor to the mission, the mission should forward the request to the ROC-O, which takes the necessary action to inform the RSAT of the case.

Processing joint assistance sponsorship cases under the OYW Program

Sponsors should be made aware that they are responsible for any additional dependants who have been declared on the IMM 0008 form if they travel to Canada under the OYW Program. When processing the “Undertaking / Application for a Joint Assistance Sponsorship” form [IMM 1324], the ROC-O is responsible for ensuring any non-accompanying dependants listed on the IMM 008 form are also listed on the IMM 1324 form, which is signed by the sponsor.

In cases where the permanent resident in Canada was selected under the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program, the permanent resident in Canada may submit a request for the processing of the non-accompanying family members to the ROC-O. The ROC-O advises the local IRCC office responsible for providing their Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) income support benefits.

GCMS coding and case assessment

OYW cases should always come to Canada under the same immigration category as the permanent resident in Canada. This includes JAS cases, since the non-accompanying family member would have been coded as a JAS case if they had been able to proceed at the same time as the rest of the family.

Post‑arrival, the local IRCC office re-evaluates the new family composition to determine if JAS is still required for the new family composition and the level of required RAP income support. For example, the case may no longer qualify as a JAS case if the arrival of the non-accompanying family member provides adequate care and support to the principal applicant. If it is determined that JAS is not required, the local office (or the ROC-O if the local office does not have access) requests a change to the immigration coding in GCMS.

In situations of IRCC error of not including non-accompanying family members from the IMM 0008 form on the JAS undertaking, OYW JAS arrivals should be coded as JAS cases. If the post‑arrival assessment confirms JAS is needed, promotion of the case to potential sponsors can occur in Canada, including asking the sponsor of the other family members if they would like to take on the new arrival (if yes, a new undertaking needs to be submitted).

JAS cases that originated from recommendations in Canada (that is, they arrived as government-assisted refugees, then converted to JAS) should be coded as JAS cases.

Initial JAS duration ended

If the original JAS duration has already ended, OYW arrivals should be coded as JAS cases, followed by the post‑arrival assessment to determine if JAS is still required. If yes, promotion of the case to potential sponsors can take place post-arrival, in Canada. If no, the local IRCC office (or the ROC-O if the local office does not have access) needs to request a change to the immigration coding in GCMS.

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