Assistance loans

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

The objective of the assistance loan is to provide financial assistance to eligible applicants in Canada to cover the costs associated with their initial resettlement, labour market access needs or both.

Before issuing the assistance loan, the designated officer should assess the applicant according to their need and ability to repay.

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Basic needs

An assistance loan may be authorized, as a one-time provision, to assist eligible immigrants become established in Canada when evidence of need is demonstrated.

The loan may be used to assist with the cost of

  • rent and utility deposits (gas, power, water, telephone)
  • food
  • clothing
  • incidental expenses
  • household items (such as beds, window coverings, tables, chairs, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, brooms, mops and bed linens)

Labour market access needs

Labour market access needs are identified as financial barriers to employment, which, if totally or partially removed, would allow a person to accept employment.

The loan may be used to assist with the cost of

  • items needed for employment, such as tools, hard hats and safety boots required of a tradesperson
  • taking an examination for a licence to practice a trade or profession needed by a technician or professional to accept an offer of employment
  • short-term child care when either both parents or a single parent has a confirmed offer of employment, and assistance is required to pay for child care (temporarily, 1 month maximum) to accept that offer of employment.

The loan may not be used to assist with the cost of

  • training required to enhance a person’s marketability (for example, a course on how to type or on how to use introductory computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel)
  • short-term child care for parents who are attending IRCC-funded language classes, provincially funded language classes or any other training

Note: There are other loans funded by the federal government to cover costs associated with credential recognition and preparation for entry into the Canadian workforce.

Approving an assistance loan and documenting the decision

Assistance loans should be issued only as a last resort. Some applicants may have access to other lending institutions, whereas resettled refugees are generally not in a position to seek a bank loan.

A designated officer should encourage the applicant to apply for a loan at other lending institutions in the following cases:

  • The loan applicant is a permanent resident who has been in Canada for 3 years or longer and is able to work.
  • The loan applicant possesses assets, such as stocks and bonds, real estate, savings, a registered retirement savings plan and other securities (in more than a nominal quantity) that could be liquidated or used as collateral to obtain a loan.

Note: The applicant may be in need of a loan, even though they have savings. In this case, the demonstrated ability to save may be rightfully interpreted as a potential ability to repay the loan. The designated officer should consider this possibility in the assessment of the loan application, along with the size of the loan requested.

When an assistance loan is granted for a “returnable” deposit, such as a rental deposit or advance on the Canada Child Benefit, there is no need to record an individualized rationale for the decision to grant a loan. The ability to repay is deemed recognized. The authorizing officer’s signature attests to the positive assessment of the ability to repay, and a copy of the approved loan is placed on file. The detailed breakdown of costs written in the comments section and client information contained on the form clearly demonstrate that the criteria for approval has been met, and no further notes are needed on file.

For all other circumstances, such as items needed for employment or household items, officers should provide a brief assessment of the rationale for their decision in the open comments field of the Assistance loan form [IMM 5355B].

Procedures for completing an assistance loan

Applicable form to use: Assistance Loan form [IMM 5355]

  1. All boxes on the form must be completed as directed.
  2. It is important to itemize the expenses in the “Remarks” field.
  3. The designated officer must indicate whether or not the loan applicant has a transportation loan in the box entitled “T.L. Warrant No.”, which appears on the left-hand side of the Assistance Loan [IMM 5355B]. If a transportation loan has not been issued, the designated officer must record “N/A” (not applicable) in the box.
  4. A copy of the signed Assistance loan form [IMM 5355B] must be placed on file.

Once the steps above are complete, please refer to the procedures outlined in the loan centralization process in order for IRCC-Finance to issue the cheque.

Cancelling an Assistance loan form [IMM 5355B]

When cancelling an assistance loan [IMM 5355B] before any money is issued, the designated officer marks “Cancelled” across the face of the form and puts it on file.

If copies of the Assistance loan form [IMM 5355B] have been distributed, the designated officer prints or stamps “Cancelled” across the face of the recovered copy 1 (copies 2, 3 and 4 cannot be used as valid instruments). The designated officer will also indicate the reason for cancellation and send the IMM 5355B to IRCC Revenue Accounting, Finance, National Headquarters (NHQ).

Procedures for all loans

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