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Posted on August 17 2022

IRCC decisions on immigration applications: Explained

By  Editor
Updated October 27 2023

Key aspects of Canada’s immigration applications

  • IRCC is set to address the decisions made by Canadian officials on the immigration applications
  • Canada has issued these new guidelines to enlighten immigration officers on how to make better decisions
  • The immigration decisions are civilized in nature, where the basic standard of proof is applicable through balance of probabilities to the civil matters by the IRCC officers

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The federal government at the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is set to address how exactly the decisions are to be made by Canadian immigration officials, in the aftermath of accusations on the systematic intolerance.

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Standard of process and review for making a reasonable decision

The immigration department states that the Canadian Supreme Court takes decisions concerning Alexander Vavilov, making the standard of review and process for making a reasonable decision clear, by the government having to be both:

  • Justified in regards with the factual and legal context of the decision
  • Depending on internally-rational reasoning

Decision-Making Guidelines

Alexander Vavilov, the son of two Russian spies, was permitted to maintain his Canadian citizenship besides his parents' illegal activities in Canada. But, this is not the only incident which has raised the illusion of discrimination in the immigration system of Canada.

In early 2018 and 2019, the federal government has recorded many lived experiences of discrimination and racism from many Canadians, in the process of engagement sessions to improve its strategy towards anti-racism and the decision-making guidelines makes sure that the procedure is reasonable and fair, without any discrimination.


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From the Pollara Strategic Insights report, which was released late last year, for the IRCC, many supervisors and employees at the immigration department were explained using offensive terms to their racialized co-workers.

The federal government states, "Canada is powerful, not in spite of our differences, but because of them. Unfortunately, Canada is used to discrimination and racism where challenges remain in embracing the diversity, cooperation and openness."

"It is important that Canada acts against discrimination committed towards any group of people or an individual depending on their ethnicity and religion, which is why the Canadian Government has decided to involve the public on a new strategy of federal anti-racism."

This strategy works to avoid racism and other factors of discrimination in its authorities, and Canada has issued these new guidelines to enlighten immigration officers on how to make better decisions.

Nine-Step process for decision-making guidelines

Step-1: Identify the requirements

The primary step is to identify the requirements which need to be satisfied, since each category of application has a set of requirements that needs to be met before a decision maker can decide.

These requirements are mentioned in the applicable legislation and thereafter provide direction to the officers in the suitable program delivery instructions.

Step-2: List the facts that are to be proven

In this step of decision-making, an officer will identify the facts that should be proven depending upon the available information that has been provided. The guidelines state that these facts must be material to the decision.

After the evidence is submitted to the immigration officer, the candidate must apply the appropriate standard of proof.

Below are the renewed guidelines, which identify four levels of evidence that may be necessary, from lowest to highest.

  • A bonafide belief providing reasonable proof with a serious possibility that a fact has been submitted based on credible evidence
  • Exceeding a rational doubt
  • Balance of probabilities that refers to situations where the existing fact is valued more than its non-existence, and that the issue to be explained is not just possible, but also probable,
  • Common suspicion that could be nothing more than a possibility unconfirmed by facts

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Step-3: Decisions based on standard of proof

Since the immigration decisions and proceedings are civilized in nature, the basic standard of proof is applicable through balance of probabilities to the civil matters by the IRCC officers. Having the balance of probabilities is highly valuable than the one without a probability.

Step-4: Identify the evidence

The following step is for the immigration officers to determine and identify that submitted evidence, whether it's a documentary, verbal, or physical, that is considered relevant.

Documents are considered the most common type of evidence that is submitted to confirm the statements made in an application.

However, the evidence provided in the documentary, may be increased and supported with verbal proof that is documented and collected by the decision maker in the process and an interview with the applicant or any other individual who has appropriate information.

The provided evidence is applicable when it is associated with an element which must be determined by the applicant.

Step-5: All the requirements must be met

The obligation to prove that all requirements are met, totally depends on the applicant. The applicant needs to provide suitable and enough evidence to satisfy the fact that the requirements for the application are met, leaving the rest to the decision maker.

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Step-6: Immigration officers must decide credibility of evidence

The immigration officers must evaluate the credibility of the evidence they have, and decide if it meets the required standard of proof for each element present in the application to be finalized as proven.

The officers are then suggested to look for the following, while evaluating the credibility of documentary evidence:

  • Incompletion, including if the document has been properly signed and dated
  • The presence of bias
  • Indications of forgery or alterations
  • Indication that the document has been fabricated
  • Differences between the document in question and other reliable information
  • Damage to the document that reduces its legibility
  • Inconsistencies or spelling mistakes (especially if the document purports to be an official document)

The verbal evidence, oral hearings or verifications, received during interviews, can also come under question when it has inconsistencies or contradictions, and is presented in a way that advises the person providing it, is unreliable.

The guidelines also suggest that the immigration officer must define the weight which is to be accorded to each piece of evidence.

Step-7: Unreliable Evidence Is To Be Given Less Weight In The Decision-Making Process

The evidence that is vague, improbable, or indefinite must be given less weightage than the evidence that is unrefuted, detailed, and direct.

For instance, an individuals statement which states that they have never left Canada, will be given less weight if the stamps on their passport show entry into other countries.

As soon as an officer reviews all of the appropriate evidence, its probative value is credible and determined where an individual must decide if they have provided plenty of evidence.


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Step-8: Balance the probabilities

The applicant must only satisfy an officer on the facts depending on a balance of probabilities which should not be extremely suspicious or doubting of the evidence that has been presented. This procedure is inconsistent with the presumption of truth that sustains the process.

Step-9: Recording the decision

For an immigration officer to make a fair decision without ignoring any evidence, immigration officials record these decisions to provide traceability, transparency, and accountability.

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In cases where a decision is made, the records can later be reviewed by the federal court in their decision templates, letters, or notes to file, and in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), where the immigration officers are advised to:

  • Guarantee that all critical issues have been addressed and assessed;
  • Refer to all dates in chronological order and provide other details, such as new evidence
  • Include assessing the facts and evidence relied upon, the applicable legislative provisions, and reasoning
  • Undertake a final review of the notes to make sure their analysis supports the conclusions and is internally consistent
  • Proofread the notes, as various errors (for example, factual, typographical) could cause the reviewing court to question a decision maker's accuracy and reliability on more substantive issues
  • Use neutral, unbiased and comprehensible language

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