After you apply: get next steps – Refugee status from outside Canada

A Canadian visa office will process your application. Most visa offices follow similar steps to process applications (see the information below). However, there may be some differences from one office to another.

Letter of confirmation

After you submit your application, the visa office will send you a letter to confirm it received the application. Your file number will be at the top of the letter. Make sure you include your file number if you contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) about your case for any reason.

Application assessment process

A visa officer will check to see that you included everything needed with your application. The officer will make sure that you completed your application forms correctly and included the proper supporting documents.

Most applicants will be asked to attend a personal interview. If an interview is required, the visa office will contact you and give you information about the time and place of the interview. Your dependants may be asked to attend as well.

You should be prepared to tell the visa officer why you consider yourself a refugee. The officer will ask you questions to assess your situation.

When you attend the interview, bring any documents related to your case and that may help the visa officer establish your identity and support your claim.

Collection of biometric information

As of November 2014, IRCC began collecting biometric information from persons seeking refugee status from outside Canada. There is no additional fee for this collection.

At your interview, or during another in-person interaction with the visa office, you may be asked to provide your biometric information. Biometric information is defined as a digital photograph and all available fingerprints. Applicants who are under 14 years old, or 80 years old and over, may not be asked to provide biometric information.

Giving your fingerprints and photograph is a safe, fast, and clean process that only takes about five minutes to complete. An IRCC officer, or locally-engaged staff working under the supervision of an IRCC officer, will take a digital photograph of your face and ask you to put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned.

When you arrive in Canada, a CBSA border services officer may use your biometrics to verify that you are the same person approved for resettlement.

Your fingerprints, photograph, and the personal information you gave in your application will be handled in line with Canada’s privacy laws.

Your personal information will be kept safe. Your biometric information will be encrypted and sent by a secure connection to the Government of Canada and stored in a secure database. It will then be deleted from the computer system used to collect it.

Processing time

Processing times vary depending on the visa office where you applied.

You may be able to speed up the process if you:

  • make sure you include all the information needed with your application
  • validate the Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008] online, and printing and including the barcode page with your application
  • notify the visa office if information on your application changes
  • don’t call the visa office if you don’t need to
  • make sure the photocopies and documents you provide are clear and easy to read and
  • provide certified English or French translations of documents, where needed.

Your application will take longer if the visa office has to take extra steps to assess your case. This can happen if:

  • you do not sign or fully complete your application forms
  • documents are missing, or if you do not give a good explanation of why documents are not included
  • there are criminal or security problems with your application
  • you do not include a certified English or French translation, if asked to
  • there are problems verifying the information and documents you provided
  • you need more tests or consultations for a medical condition you have
  • your family situation is not clear for reasons like a divorce, adoption or child custody case that hasn’t been resolved
  • the local visa office has to consult with other IRCC offices in Canada or abroad or
  • there is not enough postage on your application.

You can check the status of your application online

Medical examinations

You must pass a medical examination before coming to Canada. Your dependants must also pass a medical examination, even if they are not coming with you.

Applications for permanent residence will not be approved if your health is a danger to public health or safety.

Instructions on how to take the medical exam will be sent to you after you send in your application.

Criminal and security checks

If you have a criminal record, you may not be allowed to enter Canada and your permanent residence application may be refused. People who pose a risk to Canada’s security are also not allowed to enter the country.

If you want to immigrate to Canada, you and any family members 18 years of age and older who come with you must have criminal and security checks.

Change of address

If you move or change your address, telephone number or any other contact information after you apply, you must notify IRCC. Contact the visa office where you applied.

The decision on your application

If your application is successful, IRCC will issue a permanent resident visa and a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) to you. Your COPR will include identification information as well as your photograph and signature. You must have your COPR and your visa with you when you arrive in Canada.

If your application is refused, the decision will not be revised, but you may complete a new application.

Travelling to Canada

If you are selected to resettle to Canada, IRCC may give you a loan to pay for airfare or, in highly exceptional cases, grant you the money. IRCC will book your passage. If you do not have a passport, IRCC will help you obtain travel documents to allow you to come to Canada.

If you do not have a passport, you will need either an International Committee of the Red Cross travel document or a Single-Journey Travel Document. The Single-Journey Travel Document is issued by IRCC.

The visa office where you submit your application will give you information about travelling to Canada.


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