Boost Your Chances of Approval: Expert Tips for Monitoring Your IRCC (CIC) Application Status
Listen up! If you're trying to check the status of your application with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you might be in for some frustration. Calling their hotline at 1-888-242-2100 might seem like the easiest and most direct option, but it's actually far from it.
For starters, if you're outside of North America, forget about it. The number isn't available to international callers. Even if you are able to call, you'll have to navigate through a confusing and multi-layered menu system, using IRCC's jargon for the specific application you're calling for. If you get lost, tough luck finding an operator. And if you do get through, be prepared to provide extensive personal information just to authenticate yourself.
Even after all that, the IRCC representative might not be able to give you any extensive details about your application besides some vague updates on its status. That's why alternatives to calling the hotline might be more effective.
One option is using IRCC's online tool called e-Client Application Status (ecas), but it only works for certain types of applications - sponsorships, permanent residence applications, and citizenship applications. For other types of applications, you'll have to file a formal Access to Information and Person Information request with IRCC. This method takes longer, but it provides valuable information, such as whether you're missing any documents or if you're scheduled for an interview.
Another option is to request your Global Case Management System (GCMS) notes directly from IRCC. These notes, formerly known as CAIPS and FOSS, contain detailed information about your application, from the date it was received to the final decision. While it can take some time to obtain these notes, they can give you a much better understanding of your application's status.
So if you're feeling frustrated with IRCC's hotline, remember that there are other ways to get the information you need.
Checking Your IRCC Application Status Online
The IRCC offers an online tool to check your application status. However, not all applicants are eligible to use it. Whether or not you can access the e-Client Application Status (ECAS) tool depends on what you applied for with IRCC.
Eligible Applications for ECAS Use:
- Sponsorship of a member of the Family Class
- Permanent Residence from within Canada for all categories
- Permanent Residence from outside Canada for all categories
- Permanent Resident Card
- Citizenship application
- Citizenship application for person adopted by a Canadian
- Citizenship Certificate application
- Application to renounce Canadian citizenship
- Application to resume Canadian citizenship
Non-eligible Applications for ECAS Use:
- Immigration Documents: verification, replacements, and amendments of documents; request to amend – record of landing/confirmation of permanent residence
- Citizenship: Search of Citizenship Results category
If you are not eligible to use the e-Client Application Status tool, you can check general processing times to see how long your application may take. However, this is not specific to your individual application. Only the ECAS tool allows you to check the status of your specific application.
If you are eligible to use the ECAS tool, make sure to have your identification number, last name, date of birth, and place of birth ready.
Click here to access the tool.
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GCMS: An Alternative to Checking Your Application Status
If you cannot access the ECAS tool, you can file an Access to Information and Personal Information Request to get your GCMS notes. These are notes on your application stored in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
GCMS is an electronic data processing system that replaced CAIPS and FOSS. IRCC has been processing all visa and citizenship applications on GCMS since June 2010, making it a single integrated system for processing both domestic and international applications.
The immigration processing system in Canada had two parts before 2010 - CAIPS and FOSS. CAIPS (Computer Assisted Immigration Processing System) was an electronic system used by Canadian immigration offices outside the country to process visa applications. Although it has been replaced by the Global Case Management System (GCMS), files started on CAIPS remain there. Your CAIPS Notes contain detailed notes made on your file by visa officers or immigration officials that offer more information than IRCC's e-Client system, although some information may not be available.
Similarly, FOSS (Field Operations Support System) was an electronic data system used by Canadian immigration and customs officials within Canada for processing applications and storing medical information, personal data, lost and stolen documents, and security-sensitive information. Even though it has been replaced by GCMS, FOSS notes remain on the system.
If you submitted your application before 2011 and want to obtain your GCMS notes under the Access to Information Act, you must request either your CAIPS & GCMS records or your FOSS & GCMS records. This ensures you receive all the available information as your file may be on either GCMS, CAIPS, or FOSS. Newer applications are probably on GCMS, while older applications are likely on CAIPS or FOSS.
If you're interested in acquiring your GCMS (or CAIPS or FOSS) files, you can apply through an Access to Information and Personal Information Request. To send in the form, you must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident. If not, you can get someone you know who is a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada living in the country to file the request on your behalf, or a Canadian living abroad can file the request with a small fee. If someone else files the request, you must give your consent on the Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request form.
You also need to write a Formal Request letter to IRCC asking for your GCMS notes, along with a copy of your passport, Permanent Resident Card, or other documents for proof. The package must contain the Access to Information and Personal Information Request form (filled and signed by a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident), the Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request form (filled and signed by you if not a citizen or Permanent Resident), and the Formal Request letter to IRCC.
The request can be submitted online or couriered to the prescribed address. Please visit https://atip-aiprp.apps.gc.ca/atip/welcome.do?lang=en for online submission.
The Narono Building located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, houses the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. If you are waiting to receive your GCMS notes, the average processing time is around 4 to 6 weeks. These notes consist of screenshots of your files, which can be quite lengthy, spanning up to 30 pages. While they do provide some straightforward information about the status of your application, they may also contain abbreviations or numbered codes used by Immigration officials that require deciphering for a more in-depth understanding. IMMIgroup can make GCMS note requests on your behalf, and you can learn more about their services on their website. If you need CAIPS or FOSS notes, they can assist you in obtaining those as well.
By making an Access to Information and Personal Information Request on your immigration file, you can predict and mitigate issues before they become bigger problems. For instance, an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) means your file is updated with a preliminary points assessment. You can assess if IRCC has accurately evaluated your application with the help of access to your file before the formal assessment. Upon evaluation, you can add more documents to your application to improve its outlook for a positive formal assessment, thereby enhancing your prospects of success.
Another reason to file an Access to Information and Personal Information Request is to see why your application was selected for an interview, giving you the advantage of sufficient preparation before the interview.
How about using your IRCC Secure Account?
IRCC Secure Account is a newer option described in our article here. It is another alternative you can use. Your IRCC my account (IRCC Secure Account), which you access using a GCkey, provides secure access to your account and is useful for applying online and tracking your application.
If I applied on paper, can I link my paper application to my IRCC account?
Yes, you can. Our article here provides additional information on the process, which must be completed online.
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