The Government of Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to handle applications from both outside and within Canada. Immigration agents enter comments/issues about applications into GCMS.

The refusal letter issued by IRCC is usually generic and does not provide much information about the officer’s concerns.GCMS notes are an important tool for understanding why an application has been refused.

The Access to Information and Privacy Act is a Canadian statute that allows individuals to obtain access to Canadian government records. If you want to obtain access to those documents, you need to make an ATIP request. If you want to be able to apply GCMS notes from IRCC, you must be a Canadian Citizen, a Canadian Permanent Resident, or an individual or corporation currently in Canada.

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What are GCMS notes

The GCMS is a system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process immigration and citizenship applications. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) also relies on it.

The system used contains a record of every applicant which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Correspondence to and from IRCC
  • Applicant's supporting documents
  • Detailed notes officers make while reviewing the file
  • As well as other relevant information

The only way for applicants to get an accurate and complete view of their immigration file is through GCMS notes. You can catch up with the status of your application and take any steps necessary to improve the chances of your application getting accepted by obtaining a copy of these notes.

What reasons would you request GCMS Notes

The following are some of the most common reasons why you would get your GCMS Notes:

  • To gain a better understanding of your immigration application status. This is advantageous because it may help you prepare for an IRCC document request or any potential interview.
  • A thorough explanation for the visa denial will be given in the event of a refusal. If you decide to reapply, the information in your GCMS Notes will help you prepare a stronger application and improve your chances of getting approved.
  • With GCMS Electronic Notes, you can double-check that your application is error-free, both on your end and on your immigration consultant's or lawyer's end.
  • The GCMS notes and/or document request can help you confirm that the documents you or your representative have submitted are accurate.

When should you apply for GCMS notes

Depending on the type and stage of application, determines the most effective time to apply for GCMS notes. You can request GCMS notes as many times as you need. The following information can help you decide when to order your GCMS Notes.

  • You should use GCMS notes if your application is taking longer than usual to figure out what might be causing the delay.
  • If your application has been refused, the GCMS Notes will provide you with greater clarity regarding the rationale that the IRCC immigration officer used in deciding to refuse your application.
  • For PR applications, it is advantageous to ask for your GCMS notes as soon as your application meets the R10 completeness checks stage. R10, otherwise known as Regulation 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), is an important regulation in Canadian immigration law. This is a comprehensive examination of your application's processing, during which an immigration officer verifies that all of your paperwork and information are complete. Usually, this stage of the process is complete within a month of applying to IRCC. The ideal time to purchase GCMS Notes for PR applications is in the second or third month after submitting your application.

What do I need to apply for GCMS Notes

In order to apply for GCMS notes, you will need your application number. The UCI (Unique Client Identifier) number is also requested to ensure more accurate processing, but it is not mandatory. Here are the definitions and methods for finding these two numbers:

  • The application number is generated when you submit an IRCC application, and you may have numerous application numbers if you submitted multiple immigration applications. It is made up of one letter and a series of digits (usually 9).
  • The UCI number is only assigned to a candidate following the completion of their application, and there can be only one UCI number per applicant, even if they submit more than one application (as opposed to the application number). The number consists of eight digits, separated by a hyphen (0123-4567) or ten digits, separated by two hyphens (12-3456-7890).

How to apply for GCMS Notes

​The GCMS records are composed under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act, a federal legislation that allows anybody to access information about them from the federal government.

To be eligible to apply for GCMS notes request, you must be a Permanent Resident or a Canadian Citizen. If you are not a Permanent Resident or Canadian Citizen, don’t worry, you can get your notes; however, you will have to go through a representative.

This representative will have to request information from the government on your behalf by filling out an Access to Information Act or a Privacy Act consent form.

Apply online

Applying online is a fast and convenient way to submit your request. You will need a credit or debit card if you choose to apply online.

Apply by mail

Send along one of the following for a request by mail:

  • IRCC’s Access to Information and Personal Information Request Form (IMM 5563);
  • Treasury Board Secretariat's Access to Information Request Form (TBC/CTC 350-57); or
  • A letter indicating that the request is made in accordance with the Access to Information Act.

Mail your fully completed request form and payment with the supporting documents to the following address:

Access to Information and Privacy Division
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

What is the fee for an Access request

$5.00 is the standard application fee for each request filed under the Access to Information Act. The requester may choose to pay by credit card using the ATIP Online Request tool’s online payment service, or by cheque or money order payable to the Receiver General for Canada for requests submitted via mail.

There may be more costs associated with copying, computer processing, or additional search and preparation time.

How long does it take to receive the GCMS Notes

According to both the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), they have 30 days to respond back to an Access of Information Act or a Privacy act request.

This period may be extended for a reasonable amount of time if:

  • Large numbers of records are being requested, or
  • Conducting a search through a large number of records would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution if we were to meet the original time limit.

If the demand requires consultations to fulfil it, a time extension may be granted. If the applicant’s request for an extension exceeds 30 days, IRCC or CBSA will notify them of the extension and its duration.

In general, you can anticipate 30 to 40 days for GCMS notes, but it might take another 30 to 60 days in some situations.

Unfortunately, there is no way to shorten the amount of time it takes to process. Additionally, hiring extra lawyers or immigration consultants will not help speed up the process.

Can I get personal information about someone else

In order to access someone’s personal information, you must have written authorization from them granting you permission. There are several ways to provide consent, which include:

  • completing the Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request – IMM 5744, or

a written statement that includes:

  • the name of the person giving the consent,
  • the name of the person to whom consent is being given,
  • the signature of the person giving the consent and
  • the date the letter was signed.

To obtain the personal information of any minor dependents who are under 18 years old, you do not need their permission.

If you would like to order GCMS notes, get in contact with a regulated Canadian immigration consultant at Wild Mountain Immigration for assistance in this process.