When IRCC sends you a rejection letter, also called a refusal letter, for your Visitor Visa application, they are not obligated by law to give you detailed reasons why your application was refused. You will usually receive a form letter with several listed items, some of which are checked off.
Discover the Real Reasons Why Your Visitor Visa Application Was Rejected
When IRCC sends you a rejection letter, also called a refusal letter, for your Visitor Visa application, they are not obligated by law to give you detailed reasons why your application was refused. You will usually receive a form letter with several listed items, some of which are checked off. Some examples are:
- Lack of funds,
- Travel history,
- Purpose of visit.
What you need to realize is that you can apply to IRCC for more information under an:
- Access to Information Act request, or a
- Privacy Act request.
This enables you to get the detailed reasons for your refusal released to you. Often, the added information you gain when IRCC releases its detailed reasons for your visa refusal can enable you to remedy the matter in a fairly simple way. It might be providing more details on your home connections, or details about your bank account, or some other easily obtainable piece of information that IRCC requires in order to approve your visitor visa.
How to make a request under the Access to Information and Privacy Act
Because you are dealing with the refusal letter from a visitor visa application, we will assume you are neither a Canadian nor a Permanent Resident, and you are located abroad. In this case you will need a representative in Canada to file your Access to Information or Privacy Act request. It can be done online or by mail.
Online Access to Information Request
To make your request online – a faster means of getting an answer – you will require:
- Proof that you have the right to make such a request:
- A copy of a Canadian passport or citizenship certificate, OR
- A copy of your Permanent Resident card or other proof of PR status, OR
- A copy of temporary status visa: a temporary work, study, or visitor visa.
- Proof of Consent:
- If submitting the request on behalf of someone else, you must submit Form IMM 5744 Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request. Go here to download the form.
- The consent must be signed and dated by you the person who is authorizing your representative to make a request on your behalf.
- You will need one consent form for each individual over 18 for whom you are requesting information.
- A Credit Card:
- There is a CAD$5.00 application fee under Access to Information Act requests. There is no fee under Privacy Act requests.
- At the end of your online application, you will be directed to an e-payment tool where you will be directed to pay using a: Visa, Master Card, or American Express card.
As a non-Canadian applying from abroad under an Access to Information or Privacy Act request, you will need someone in Canada to submit the online request for you. Here’s what to expect from the online Information request process:
- ATIP (Access to Information and Privacy) Online Request is a series of questions which must be answered in sequential order to proceed. Some questions may be optional in which case they can be skipped.
- ATIP Online does NOT save your information so you must do the application in one sitting. You cannot partially complete it and return later to finish the application.
- Use the Help feature by clicking the icon in the Top Right Hand corner of each question box. This will give you added information if you are unsure of any question.
- After you have answered all questions, you will be given a Document Checklist. You must scan the required documents, and attach the scanned copies to your online request. Make sure you have all possible documentation at hand as you cannot come back later to complete your online request.
- Once you have completed your online request and paid your fee (only with Access to Information requests) you will receive an acknowledgment email with a payment receipt attached, if applicable.
- Under the Access to Information and Privacy Act, IRCC has 30 days to respond to your request. The 30 day time period may be extended if:
- The request is for a large number of records, OR
- The request requires searching through a large number of records
- The IRCC is required to inform you or your representative, as well as the Information Commissioner of the extension. You will be informed when and if you have the right to launch a complaint to the Information Commissioner over the extension.
Access to Information Request by Mail
You should remember that applying by mail from abroad or in Canada is a slower process. You will need one of the following:
- Access to Information and Personal Information Request form: Form IMM 5563 – go here to download the form.
- Download and print the form. Complete the form and sign and date the form.
- Download and complete Form IMM 5744: Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request. Go here to download the consent form. You will use it to indicate and authorize your representative in Canada who will submit your request on behalf of you.
- For Access to Information Act requests include CAD$5.00 payment in the form of a cheque or money order payable to: Receiver General for Canada. There is no fee for Privacy Act requests.
- Treasury Board Secretariat’s Access to Information Request Form (TBC/CTC 350-57). Go here to download the form and for instructions on how to apply. You will need to enclose payment of CAD$5.00 as with form IMM 5563, describe above.
- A letter that indicates you are making a request in accordance with the Access to Information Act. The following should be included:
- A statement that the information is being requested;
- The name of the institution – Citizenship and Immigration Canada – that the request is directed to;
- A description of the records requested;
- Preferred method of viewing the records: photocopies or viewing the originals at a government office;
- Address, phone number, and signature of the applicant (or representative) in Canada;
- Date of request;
- CAD$5.00 application fee unless request is done under Privacy Act.
Mail your completed application (whether Form IMM 5563, Form TBC/CTC 350-57, or a letter, along with the consent form IMM 5744) with supporting documents and a cheque or money order if applicable, to:
Access to Information and Privacy Division
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Once you have IRCC’s response to your information request, you will have the specific reasons IRCC rejected your Visitor Visa application, and you can often remedy the situation with added information that IRCC needs to approve your application. Remember, with a Visitor Visa application, you need to convince IRCC official reviewing your application that you will return to your country of residence when your visa expires. Any doubts over your connection to your home country or country of residence; any doubts over your having sufficient funds for your visit to Canada; any doubts over your purpose for your visit; any doubts over your admissibility to Canada, will all result in a refusal of your Visitor Visa. The more information you can get on exactly why your visa was refused, the sooner you can solve the issues and remove the doubt from your reviewing officer’s mind.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.