As they move through the Canadian immigration process, many applicants may find delays in the processing of their immigration applications. While Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made headway in trying to reduce these delays, long waiting periods are often a common experience.
However, there are official routes that applicants can take to voice concerns or update IRCC about their applications, many of which have proven effective for applicants in the past.
The current situation
IRCC’s client support centre currently handles a massive number of correspondences through various channels. Between April and October of 2022 (the latest data available) the department fielded a collective 8.3 million inquiries including both phone (6.6 million) and email (1.5 million) correspondence. This number is only expected to increase in subsequent years.
The IRCC Webform is an online form that the immigration department uses to answer any questions that applicants may have regarding their specific application.
This route is specifically for those who want to enquire about a submitted application that has exceeded processing times, as well as those who want to update important details of their application. In addition, the form can be used by those who:
- Wish to add/change/update their use of a representative in an application, and are ready to submit supporting documents to do so;
- Require urgent processing or replacement of their PR card (provided they meet certain criteria); and
- Wish to report a technical issue with IRCC online services.
On average, it takes roughly 30 days to receive a response from IRCC through this channel (though this can depend on the complexity of the request, and if further information is needed). IRCC will not respond to your webform request if your application is still within official processing time limits. Also, note that it may take up to five business days for the department to update your application via information submitted through the webform.
For more information on specific use cases, and to access the webform itself, click here.
IRCC can also be contacted (to a limited degree) by email. This method is for those who have general or technical questions that they would like to ask the department.
IRCC usually recommends checking their popular questions webpage prior to contacting the department by email. However, if the answer to an applicant’s query cannot be found through this webpage, they can email:
Importantly, this mode of communication can be a common target for scammers, who look to trick newcomers into giving personal information (including bank details) by posing as IRCC. Newcomers should remember that there are certain things IRCC will never ask for via email.
It usually takes 2-5 business days to get a response from IRCC by email, though it should be noted that their ability to answer specific questions regarding your case is limited through this channel.
The final method of reaching IRCC is via phone—however this option is only available to those within Canada. IRCC has both an automated and human-operated phone line, which have different availabilities and conditions.
Client support center agent (IRCC’s human-operated phone line) can be accessed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. This line—available in both English and French—allows applicants to get help with general and case specific enquiries. Newcomers should keep in mind that client support agents cannot make decisions on your applications, nor can they help process applications faster if you are not eligible for urgent processing.
The automated telephone service, on the other hand, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and allows applicants to check the status of their application and listen to pre-recorded information about IRCC’s programs.
Newcomers can use the following phone number (for both lines), to contact IRCC (from within Canada only): 1-888-242-2100.
For the most information on your application
Applicants can also order documents called Global Case Management System (GCMS) notes. GCMS is IRCC’s universal software system for storing and processing applications that the department receives.
GCMS notes are the information that is saved on this software, both automatically by the software itself, but also by immigration officers who are processing an application. GCMS notes can therefore give applicants detailed information about:
- A specific application (including when the application was received, when it was opened, the code of the immigration officer who is assigned to the application, application status, and reason for status, etc.);
- Any information IRCC has gathered about the applicant; and
- Any information submitted by a third-party representative to IRCC.
GCMS notes are a form of Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request. ATIPs are the Canadian government’s vehicle for Canadians or those in Canada to access information collected about them by the government.
All ATIP requests to the Canadian government must receive a response within 30 days. However, the response may be that the department needs additional time to process the request.
If individuals outside of Canada want to apply for GCMS notes, they must have a representative apply on their behalf, who is either:
- A Canadian citizen;
- A Canadian permanent resident; and/or
- An individual or corporation currently in Canada.
To learn more about how to make an ATIP request click here.
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