While you can still apply on paper for many of IRCC’s immigration streams, the time is coming when you will have to have an online connection in order to apply for anything related to immigration to Canada. As has been made evident by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, paper applications can sometimes face obstacles or even become temporarily unavailable, because of emergencies or other events. You need to prepare now in order to apply online and even to work remotely due to COVID-19 should your employer decide to take that course of action.
One important step you can take is to link your application to a newly opened online account at IRCC where you will be able to:
- Get information on your case status that is up to date
- Get online updates for a paper application you previously submitted
- Change your Sign-In Partner (for example a chartered bank) or switch to a GC Key
- Take over an application from an authorized representative should you wish to do so.
What steps are necessary to link a paper application to an online account at IRCC?
There are 4 steps:
Step 1: Submit an application by mail or in person
Not all paper applications can be linked to an online account. Here are the applications which CAN be linked:
- Interim Federal Health Program
- Applications for Permanent Residence:
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot: High-skilled program; Intermediate-skilled program; International graduate program
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Caregivers: In-Canada live-in caregivers; Caring for children; Caring for people with high medical needs
- Express Entry profile
- Family sponsorships (does NOT include applications to become sponsor)
- Federal skilled worker
- Federal skilled trades
- In-Canada protected persons and convention refugees
- Provincial nominee program
- Quebec entrepreneurs
- Quebec investors
- Quebec-selected skilled worker
- Self-employed persons (including Quebec)
- Start-up Visa
- Permanent Residence card
- Temporary Residence:
- International experience Canada
- Study permit and extension
- Visitor visa
- Visitor record
- Work permit and extension.
If your application is not on this list, you should:
- Use the Check-Application-Status tool here. OR
- Go here to check application processing times if you can’t access your application.
Step 2: Open an online account at IRCC's Website
The first step is to register with IRCC. There are two ways to do this:
- To Register with GCKey
- Go here and scroll down half-way and click the Register with GCKey button.
- Click Sign Up
- Read terms & conditions and click I Accept
- Create a username and click Continue
- Create a password and click Continue
- Create your security questions and response and click Continue
- Click Continue to get to Sign Up Complete page
- Read terms & conditions and click I Accept
- Enter your information and follow the steps given to create your account.
- To register with a Sign-In Partner
- Go here and scroll down past the Register with GCKey button and click on the Register with Sign-In Partner button
- Choose your financial institution. If it is not listed, you need to register with GCKey.
- Enter your banking sign-in information and click Continue
- Read the terms & conditions and click I Accept
- Enter your personal information and follow the steps given to create your online account.
Step 3: Link your paper application to your newly opened online account
- Once you have created your new account, sign in and using the menu from “What would you like to do today?” Click on Link application to this account.
- Enter the exact same information you entered when you opened your account. If you updated any information after opening your account, use the latest information you updated.
- You have 5 opportunities to try and link your paper application to your online account. After 5 tries, you will be locked out for 24 hours.
If you get the response that there are no matches when you try to link to your application there are several reasons why this normally happens:
- Your application is not in the system yet. When you apply by mail or in person it takes time for your application to be uploaded into IRCC’s system so you may have to wait a short while longer before trying to link your application to your online account.
- You may have chosen the wrong application category:
- For example, Canadian Experience Class is a separate category from Express Entry even though they are related.
- As well, always choose the appropriate sub-category like Federal Skilled Worker program or Federal Skilled Trades program rather than Express Entry.
- For any work permit issued under International Experience Canada, always choose International Experience Canada as the category.
- The information provided does not match what is in the system. You must type exactly the same information, even including the spaces between words in names of people or places, for example.<
- If you applied on paper for example, enter your name exactly as it appears in your passport which is what IRCC uses.
- The same applies for your city/town of birth – enter exactly as it is in your passport.
Step 4: Get updates and messages regarding your application
- After you have successfully linked your application to your online account, you will no longer receive paper notifications of your application’s status or any other request like for additional documents. All messages and updates will appear in your online account.
- Please note that once you link to an application, your representative will lose access to that application.
So the COVID-19 pandemic is actually a vital reason to do what you should have done some time ago, and that is to gain the ability to do as much as possible online when it comes to applying to immigrate to Canada, as well as to working remotely if that is what you might be facing.