How to request a copy of the refusal reasons

Last updated on August 31, 2022

When your immigration application is refused, you receive a letter that lists grounds for the refusal. This letter is your decision. To know what to do next, you need to know what were the reasons your application is refused. Every immigration officer, when they decide your case, is required to put in detailed notes about their reasoning process on your application. You can obtain the reasons by requesting a copy of the Officer’s notes (aka GCMS, CAIPS, or ATIP).

Who needs the refusal reason notes

  • You if you would like to know what was “wrong” in your now refused application, whether you should submit a new one, or whether you should challenge the decision in court
  • Your immigration lawyer, before advising you how to proceed and how to structure your new application, if necessary.

Am I eligible to receive these notes

The following people are authorized to submit the request for the Officer’s notes:

  • If you are physically present in Canada
  • If you are a permanent resident of Canada, or
  • If you are a Canadian citizen

If neither of the above apply to you, you can authorize a person, including your lawyer, who meet the above criteria to request the reasons on your behalf.

How to submit the application

  • The submission process if very straight forward. You just need to follow the online steps on the ATIP request website
  • Make sure that in your request you identify the government body’s whose notes you want to have released. For any of you immigration application, you want to identify the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada
  • To get a copy of your notes, under What type of information are you requesting? select “Access to Information Act”
  • Under Which type of records do you wish to request? select “Immigration/Citizenship records”
  • Fill in the information required including your name, date of birth, your UCI number and your application number
  • If you are looking for the officer’s notes, select “Status updates of File/Reasons for Refusal/Officer’s Electronic notes
  • If you are looking for a copy of the application you submitted, select “The application, supporting documents and correspondence sent to and/or from IRCC”
  • Use your discretion in the section titled Use the space below to provide relevant information to help IRCC process your request. You might provide additional evidence of your request, but do not overwhelm the clerk processing your request with the extra unnecessary details
  • If you are requesting the information on other person’s behalf, do not forget to attach the signed Consent form
  • Pay the fees and submit
  • It usually takes about 30 days to receive the notes

Can I do it myself

Absolutely. If you are physically in Canada, is a permanent resident, or a Canadian citizen you can make the request. There is zero legal knowledge needed to submit this application.

How can lawyers help

  • A Canadian lawyer can make the request on your behalf, if you cannot or do not have anyone else who can do this in Canada
  • Generally, once the reasons are received a lawyer can help you review the notes and provide you with a legal opinion on whether you should submit a new application to file for a Court review
  • A good lawyer would also identify the weak points in your application and suggest how to improve your future application.

(The above should not be treated as legal advice)

Still unsure? We can help you make sense of your situation and suggest what you might need to do next.

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