Emailing clients who have paper-based applications

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

These instructions contain the protocol for emailing clients who have paper based applications for all Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) lines of business. IRCC must be able to demonstrate that correspondence was sent to a client. Therefore, these instructions specify how to properly

  • save sent emails
  • provide evidence that an email was sent, in the event of litigation

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Officers should communicate with an applicant by email only if that applicant has given consent to communicate in this manner. Consent is considered as being given by an applicant in any of the following circumstances:

  • A completed application form includes an email address.
  • An applicant submits a signed “Use of a Representative” form [IMM 5476] that includes the immigration representative’s email address.
    • If the immigration representative’s email address is included in the IMM 5476 form, all correspondence, including the client’s file and personal information, should be sent to the immigration representative.
  • An applicant initiates email communication with IRCC, supplying an email address.

In providing an email address by using any of these methods, the client authorizes IRCC to transmit all correspondence, including their file and personal information, to this email address.

If the client does not provide IRCC with an email address, correspondence should be issued to the client or representative by using an alternative method of communication, such as paper mail.

Mandatory practices when emailing clients

Officers must ensure they are following the mandatory practices below when communicating with clients by email, including emails regarding

  • requests for additional documentation
  • convocations for interviews
  • approval letters
  • refusal letters

When sending an email to a client, the officer must ensure

  • The email address inserted in the recipient line is identical to the email address provided by the client or immigration representative.
  • The email requesting additional documentation or convoking a client for an interview provides a reasonable period of time for the client to respond (that is, the email provides a requested submission date or a date for a scheduled interview).
    • Given the uniqueness of each country and the variety of issues that could affect applicants’ communication with IRCC, officers are encouraged to set a reasonable time limit to receive the documentation, considering the local communication arrangements.
  • The email is sent from the office’s generic mailbox to facilitate email management. Individual officers must not use their personal mailboxes to communicate with clients.
  • The sent Microsoft Outlook email is uploaded as an electronic document (eDoc) and manually attached to the outgoing correspondence record in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
    • Saving sent emails as eDocs enables the sent emails, including content and attachments, to be traced and retrieved at a later date.
  • If a response is not received from the applicant within the requested time period, the officer should record the following note in GCMS:
    • An email, [requesting additional documentation or convoking the applicant for an interview], was sent to the applicant. The applicant was advised that failure to [provide the requested documentation or attend a scheduled interview] may result in a [refusal or abandonment] of their application. The applicant [failed to comply with the request or requested an extension to provide the requested information].
  • If an undelivered message is received (that is, the sent email “bounces back”), officers must verify if the email address has been changed or updated in GCMS and must resend the email to the updated email address, supplied by the client. If the initial email was sent to the most up-to-date email address, but an undelivered message was received, officers should save the undelivered email, following the steps below, and send the correspondence to the client by means of an alternative method of communication, such as paper mail.
  • The automatically generated read notification should not be used as a means of verifying that a client has received an email. These notifications do not function, once the email leaves the IRCC system and reaches an outside server.

Sending emails in bulk

Bulk correspondence is a feature in GCMS that allows officers to create and send the same correspondence to multiple clients at a time.

This can be done by using either the IMM Correspondence screen and querying for a group or by using the Bulk Correspondence functionality, where the system automatically sends out correspondence that is set to “Generate” status within the next 24 hours. These functionalities ensure that the same letter is uploaded to each application and that a correspondence record is created.

Detailed technical instructions on how to generate and send emails in bulk is available in the GCMS Online Help Tool, under “Functionalities” > “Correspondence” > “Send Correspondence in Bulk”.

For additional questions on these GCMS procedures, see the designated GCMS manager in your office.

Attaching a sent email to an outgoing correspondence record

Officers must take the following steps when attaching a sent email to a correspondence record in GCMS.

Step 1: Save the sent email in the proper location

Officers can save the email by using 1 of 2 methods.

  1. In the “Sent” Microsoft Outlook folder, highlight the email, right click and select “Copy”, or use Ctrl + C to copy the sent email.
    • The sent email must be equal to or fewer than 4 MB and must be in .msg format.
    • If the size of the sent email exceeds 4 MB, print the sent email (with attachments, if any), name it appropriately and match it to the file to enable retrieval at a later date, if necessary.

    Open the common drive or GCMS uploads folder, right click and select “Paste” or use Ctrl + V to paste the sent email in that folder.

  2. Open the email in the “Sent” Microsoft Outlook folder and click “Save As” to save the email to the common drive (select “Outlook Message Format” in the “Save as type” list).

Step 2: Create a new outgoing correspondence in GCMS

To add the saved email to GCMS, officers must take the following actions:

  1. Navigate to the application in GCMS.
  2. Click the “Correspondence” view tab, within the application.
  3. Click the “Outgoing” sub-tab. The system then displays a list of outgoing correspondence records associated with the application. If a document record that was already generated in GCMS is displayed, the attachment record needs to be deleted to enable the “New” button.
  4. Highlight the “Word LTR 02” attachment record, in the Correspondence Attachments applet.
  5. Click the drop-down “Menu”.
  6. Select “Delete Record” or use Ctrl + D to delete the record.
  7. Click “OK”. This enables the “New” button.
  8. Click “New” in the Correspondence Attachments applet. The system then displays the GCMS e-Storage window.
  9. Click “Select File”. The system then navigates to the computer’s hard drive.
  10. Select the sent email you saved during the previous step and click on “Open” to attach it to the outgoing correspondence record in GCMS. The system then indicates that the file was successfully uploaded and confirms the e-storage identifier number (eDoc number).
  11. Close the window.
  12. Press Alt + Enter to save and refresh the page. The system then displays a record of the uploaded email in the Correspondence Attachments applet. The eDoc number is also displayed.
  13. Change the status of “Outgoing Correspondence” to “Sent”, via “Email”, and include the email address in the “Via” details.

Alternative step 2: Record content and details of the sent email as a note

If there are technical issues with the eDoc function in GCMS, the following actions should be taken as an alternative to attaching the sent email as an eDoc in the outgoing correspondence record:

  1. Copy the content of the sent email, including the
    • details of the date and time it was sent
    • email address to which it was sent
  2. Navigate to the “Notes” tab, in the client’s application.
  3. Click “New” to create a new note.
  4. Paste the contents of the sent email in the note and click within the main screen to save.

File transfers

The officer should immediately notify the applicant by email that their file has been transferred to another office and that they may be receiving correspondence from another office.

This applies only to major file transfers for processing purposes, such as from an inland case processing centre to a visa office overseas. It does not apply to file transfers related to triaging.

Requests for reconsideration or reactivation

If the applicant fails to comply with the request for additional information, a decision maker may take either of the following actions:

  • declare an application “abandoned” (section 13.2 of the Citizenship Act)
  • refuse an application for non-compliance (section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)

In such cases, the applicant may request a reconsideration or reactivation of their file. The onus is on the applicant to satisfy the decision maker that reconsideration of their application is warranted.

Any decision on whether or not to exercise discretion to reconsider is subject to judicial review before the federal court. Therefore, all decisions should be well documented in the GCMS file, with the rationale and supporting documentation to reflect that IRCC received, assessed and rendered a decision on the request for reconsideration.

For additional information on reconsideration, see Admissibility and final decisions on applications in family class.

Reconsideration or reactivation on the basis of no email correspondence received

Immigration applications

In cases where the applicant or representative requests reconsideration of the immigration application, stating that they did not receive an email instructing them to provide additional information, the decision maker must consider all relevant factors and circumstances of the case to determine whether or not to exercise their discretion to reconsider the application.

If the decision maker finds that an error was made by IRCC, and the email requesting additional information was not sent to the applicant or representative, the office responsible for processing the application should reopen the application and provide the applicant with the opportunity to submit the required documentation.

Citizenship applications

For citizenship applications, abandoned applications should be reactivated only if there has been an administrative error by citizenship officials.

An example of an administrative error is if an applicant advised the citizenship office of a new email address, and the office sent the notice to take the oath of citizenship to the applicant’s former address.

Evidence of sent emails for litigation cases

In cases of litigation alleging non-receipt of an email, decision makers should do the following:

  • check that there is no undelivered message (that is, the email did not “bounce back”) in the generic inbox
  • if there is no undelivered message, then provide a copy of the sent email by printing a copy of either of the following:
    • the eDoc found under the outgoing correspondence record
    • the note containing the date, time and content of the sent email as well as the client’s email address in their GCMS file

Once the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship proves that the email correspondence was sent to the most up to date email address provided by the applicant, the applicant bears the risk involved in a failure to receive the email correspondence.

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