Ask any immigrant in Canada about their Canada immigration experience, and many of them will say that it was a period of much anxiety and uncertainty. Often, they would talk about their feelings of anxiety and anticipation before they got their CoPR (confirmation of Permanent Residence).
Indeed, waiting for the decision of Immigration, refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is not always easy for people. This should not be surprising. After all, people who apply for permanent residence in Canada invest much time and resources for their immigration applications. They want to see things move forward when it comes to their applications.
Though rare, delays and refusals occur. The most common response of applicants when this happens is asking “why?”. They would like to understand what is causing the delay in their application for permanent resident status. In the case of refusals, applicants would want to know what led to the unfavourable decision.
If you have taken the necessary steps to ensure the completeness of your immigration application, this may not happen to you. You may not get refused nor will you experience excessive delays. Be that as it may, it might be a good idea to know that there is something you can do in such situations.
You could order a GCMS note.
What Is The GCMS?
Because Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processes close to hundreds of thousands of permanent residence applications each year, it needs a way to manage these applications.
GCMS stands for Global Case Management System. It is a software system used by the IRCC. With the GCMS (Global Case Management System), the IRCC manages thousands of visa applications, including permanent residence applications under the Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Programs. Also, temporary resident visa applications are managed through the use of the GCMS.
The GCMS has detailed information on every visa applicant. You could imagine it as a database for every applicant. The system is used by the IRCC to store information related to the applicant. Also, the system contains information on every document and correspondence an applicant had with the immigration officers of the IRCC.
What Is A GCMS Note?
Within the course of the entire application process, many things could happen. You may have submitted many documents or paid several fees. As well, if you are applying for permanent residence under the Express Entry system, you may have updated your credentials at different times.
Unless you have good memory, keeping track of every step and interaction you had with the IRCC can be difficult. It could be so difficult that you would find yourself puzzled at delays and maybe even a refusal of your application.
You would want to know where things may have gone wrong. Or, you may just want to know the status of your ongoing application. To keep yourself informed about your application, you could get GCMS notes. GCMS notes are notes from the officers who have received and assessed your visa application. The information in GCMS notes includes your personal details as well as other pieces of information like:
- The type of visa for which you applied
- Your immigration program
- The fees you have paid
- Your eligibility requirements (especially for Express Entry)
- Whether you are admissible into Canada or not
- The decision about your application
- The grounds for the decision
An Overview Of The Access To Information And Privacy Act
As you could see, GCMS notes from the officers looking at your application are very detailed. GCMS notes are the most detailed documents when it comes to knowing the status of your application. Every piece of information and decision comes directly from IRCC.
For a document this detailed, it might seem like ordinary people should not have access to GCMS notes. On the contrary, you could order a copy of your GCMS notes. In fact, the IRCC issues GCMS notes under the Access to Information and Privacy Act.
Under the act, the Federal government should allow individuals to access information. Access to information is slightly limited and accessible information needs to be about the person desiring access.
The Act entitles you the right to request and receive more detailed information about your visa application in Canada. Bound by the Act, the IRCC can provide this detailed information in the form of GCMS notes.
Why And How Are GCMS Notes Useful
As mentioned earlier, GCMS notes can give an applicant detailed notes of every requirement he or she has submitted in his or her immigration file. Also, GCMS notes contain notes and remarks from Canadian immigration officers reviewing the file.
For these reasons, ordering GCMS notes will allow you to understand the current status of your immigration. You could apply for GCMS Notes if you find yourself in one of these situations:
A Delay In Your Application
We will use a visa application under the Express Entry system as an example. How long does it take the IRCC to process an Express Entry application?
Under the Express Entry system, permanent residence applications could take six to nine months to process. As far as Canadian visa applications go, this is not a very long time. Nevertheless, delays to occur. There are times when applications take more than nine months.
If you are applying for a Canadian immigration program under the Express Entry selection system, you could apply for GCMS notes. GCMS notes would help you identify what is causing the delay. When you get GCMS notes, you could see the reason behind your application’s processing time
Canadian immigration officers reviewing the file of your immigration keep a detailed record. Due to the detailed notes within GCMS notes, you could see what immigration officers recorded as inadequacies in your application.
Indeed, the IRCC does notify applicants of its decision involving visa applications. These notifications are given by email or through an applicant’s IRCC account. The IRCC even includes reasons for its decision in the event of a refusal. However, these reasons are often in just a few lines and do not provide much detail.
From the comments and remarks in your GCMS notes, you could get a much more detailed explanation behind the refusal of your application. This information helps in two ways:
- You could understand the reasons for the refusal and correct them when you re-apply.
- Your immigration lawyer will have a better idea of how to help you in appealing the decision (if you hired an immigration lawyer).
How To Order GCMS Notes (In Canada)
Once again, GCMS notes are issued under Canada’s Access To Information and Privacy Act. As per this act, access to information in Federal records (like those of IRCC) is a right and privilege of people in Canada. In short, you need to be one of the following to order GCMS notes yourself:
- A Canadian citizen
- A permanent resident of Canada
- A student or temporary worker in Canada
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Complete The Online Form (ATIP Request)
Visit this page of the Canadian government’s main site. You will be redirected to an online form. You need to provide details about yourself.
The online form is used to request for different types of records or documents from different agencies of the Canadian government. You need to select “Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada” or the IRCC.
Step 2: Pay The Necessary Fee
Since the application is online, you need to have a valid debit or credit card.
At the time of writing, the processing fee for an Access To Information and Privacy request is 5.00 CAD.
Step 3: Wait For Your GCMS Notes
Your GCMS notes will be sent to you by email. You could expect a detailed record that may be at least 30 pages long.
The average processing time for GCMS notes is 30days to 40 days.
Is It Possible To Order GCMS Notes From Outside Canada?
Even if you are not a Canadian citizen or a permanent or temporary resident in Canada, there are some ways to order GCMS notes.
Here are some options for you to consider:
Since a vast majority of visa applicants apply for their Canadian visas outside Canada, some companies offer GCMS ordering services. These companies act as representatives already present in Canada. Hence, these companies order your GCMS on your behalf.
If you enlist the services of these companies, you may have to sign a consent form. This consent form authorizes the third-party company to get your GCMS notes from the IRCC.
There are many companies that provide this service. Some examples of these companies are:
Many of these companies are based in Canada. Hence, instead of paying in US dollars, you have to pay in Canadian dollars. Due to the exchange rate of Canadian dollars to US dollars, the fees come out cheaper.
Through A Representative
Your representative could be someone that you know in Canada. This person could make an ATIP request on your behalf.
On the online form, your representative should indicate that he or she is making the request for you. Also, you may need to sign a consent form since you are not making the GCMS request yourself.
The Effects Of Ordering GCMS Notes On Your Application
Applying for GCMS notes means more “leg work” for immigration officers. Nonetheless, here is some good news:
Getting your GCMS notes will not affect your application negatively.
Getting GCMS notes does nothing to slow down or accelerate your application. In fact, it is the only way you could get a detailed picture of your visa application. As well, it is the best if (not only) way to learn about the reasons for the refusal of your visa application.
It is normal and understandable to want to track progress. This is especially true for your Canadian visa application.
The Global Case Management System or GCMS is the IRCC’s way of keeping detailed records of visa applicants. The system allows immigration officers to update and assess the immigration file of a visa applicant. This information becomes a possession of the Federal government.
Under the provisions of Canada’s Access To Information And Privacy Act, citizens and residents can have access to this information. Hence, visa applicants may request GCMS notes to track the progress of their applications.