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What to do if your application is assigned to an Inactive Immigration Officer

Mismanagement has put nearly 60,000 applications in processing limbo, according to a recent Access to Information and Privacy request. Officers in consulates around the world were assigned active cases, including those from Indian, United States, Philippine, and Brazil airports, border ports, and processing centres.

Following CBC News’ story about how Canada’s immigration department assigned thousands of applications to inactive employees and placeholder codes, the department explained its processing system. In an Access to Information request earlier this year, CBC requested information on all inactive employees and placeholder codes assigned to applicants. Data from IRCC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS) – the worldwide system used to process citizenship and immigration applications – revealed IRCC’s “inactive users” in October. According to the data, there are 59,456 open, pending, or re-opened applications assigned to 779 codes.

There were 9,540 applications assigned the most heinous code, SM10353. The last time this Sydney, Newfoundland-based placeholder or former employee used the system was on March 23, 2021. Among the others are:

  • TD7976, an Ottawa-based company with 5,782 assigned applications, last logged in in October 2020.
  • The most recent login for Edmonton-based TH04332, which has 3,937 assigned apps, was in February 2011.
  • About 3,756 applications have been allocated to CB01126, based in Sydney, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
  • With 3,388 assigned applications to CB00580, situated in Edmonton, last logged in in January 2012.
  • The last login for RK01404, based in India, had 2,201 assigned applications, was in March 2021.
  • With 2,167 assigned applications, CA9999, situated in Edmonton, last logged in in August 2015.
  • With 1,897 assigned applications, Sydney, Newfoundland-based LB6660 last logged in in December 2016.
  • RA9519, a Vancouver-based with 1,864 assigned applications, last logged in in February 2016.
  • With 1,710 assigned applications, RL7901, situated in Ottawa, last logged in in November 2015.
  • D9151, an Edmonton-based company with 1,702 assigned applications, last logged in in August 2013.

What are ‘placeholder’?

Inactive users’ codes are described as “placeholders,” “catchment areas,” “group reference numbers,” and “batch codes” by the IRCC. Both terms refer to queues for holding applications waiting for the next stage of processing. This is the equivalent of a mailbox in an office building. Depending on their expertise and line of business, immigration officers pull files from these “mailbox” bins.

What happens when someone is assigned an inactive code?

If a file is assigned to one of these bins, it is waiting for an employee to work on it. Suppose an immigration officer comes in to review a permanent residency (PR) application, for instance. It goes back into a bin and waits for another officer at one of IRCC’s partners abroad, like its New Delhi visa office, to finish the step if more information is needed. A PR application will be placed in a bin again if all steps are approved. Depending on where the applicant is located, the appropriate office would pick it up from the “mailbox,” to finalize the application. There are many types of applications, and that’s just one example. A simple application, such as a visitor visa, may spend less time in line and need fewer officers’ touches. It’s very likely that all applications that enter GCMS at some point will be assigned these placeholder codes.

What is the typical retention period for these bins?

It depends on each case, but officials estimate that applications can remain assigned to these placeholder codes for months at a time. Simple applications like visitor visas may take up to a few hours.

When an employee leaves IRCC, what happens?

It is up to the manager to reassign all active immigration applications to another officer with similar skills when an employee leaves IRCC. IT employees do regular program runs to ensure that anyone who hasn’t logged in for a while isn’t attached to open files if that hasn’t been done before their ID is deactivated. This is referred to as a “failsafe” practice by officials.

What should you do if your application is taking longer than usual?

You can check the processing times for your immigration category to see if your application falls within the normal range. Processing times can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can try to do.

Apply for GCMS notes

The Global Case Management System (GCMS) is an electronic data management program that is used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to track the progress of applications from overseas as well as within Canada. In GCMS, immigration officers record their notes and concerns about applications. It is likely that applying for GCMS notes under ATIP will trigger the processing of the application if it is assigned to an “inactive code”.

Submit Case Specific Inquiry

You may submit a Case Specific Inquiry (CSI) to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to inquire about the status of your immigration application or to request that certain issues be addressed. You can submit a CSI through the IRCC’s website. Consider submitting a CSI if you are experiencing delays in the processing of your immigration application. Please provide as much information as possible about the specific reasons for the delay and any circumstances that may have contributed to it. In addition, you should include any correspondence you have received from IRCC. Submission of a CSI does not guarantee expedited processing of your application. However, it may help bring your situation to IRCC’s attention and result in your application being processed more quickly.

Contact IRCC Call Centre

Contacting the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Call Centre may help you to get information about the status of your immigration application or to address any issues or concerns you have about the application process. The IRCC Call Canter can be reached at 1-888-242-2100, Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm local time, excluding statutory holidays. Consider calling early in the morning or using a speakerphone. Note the date and time you called, the agent’s name, and the exact information they provided. Request that the agent email the information they provided. The immigration agent with whom you speak is different from the officer who will review and decide your application.

Contact your local Member of Parliament (MP)

MPs have access to a hotline and email accounts with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (and other government functions). They can use these communication lines to contact IRCC and ask for information. This is especially important if your case seems to have stalled (you have not heard from Immigration for a long time after the estimated wait time), to determine when your case may have been heard. It can sometimes result in your application being resumed if it has been in limbo for far too long without any progress. It is not necessary for you to be a permanent resident or a citizen to access this resource. You may find your local MP by visiting the following site:


Contact IRCC via email

IRCC does not generally respond to email inquiries related to specific immigration applications. Contact the IRCC Call Centre or submit a Case Specific Inquiry (CSI) through the IRCC website if you have specific questions about your application. If all other attempts to resolve the issue have failed, you may consider sending an email to IRCC. For Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) you may email IRCC at [email protected]. Include your family name, given name, Unique Client Identifier (UCI) Number (also referred to as a Client ID Number), application number and date of birth in your email.

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