With an active move towards electronic processing by the Immigration Refugee & Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the reliability of the email correspondence between applicants and officials has become a growing concern.
New guidelines for email communication with immigration applicants have been recently issued to avoid complaints and lawsuits over missing correspondence that may lead to wrongful denials of eligible applications.
The guidelines include instructions on how to save a sent email in the department’s system and provide evidence for litigation purposes. Officials must obtain consent from applicants to communicate via email by ensuring a completed application form includes an email address of either the applicants. Consent is presumed if applicants initiate an email communication.
Failing to respond to officials’ requests as a result of missing email can be detrimental to applicants’ immigration prospects. Failing to prove that the correspondence had been sent and received can lead to lawsuits for the federal government.
The new guidelines provide safeguards and more precise instructions to officers to save records. The new guidelines warn officers that the old departmental practice of “read notification function” can no longer be used as a means of verifying that the applicant had received the email.
Even though the responsibility lies on the applicant to respond to officers’ requests and make their case if it warrants, reconsideration in the case of an « abandoned » application due to alleged missing email, must be considered under the new guidelines.
If the decision-maker finds that an error was made by IRCC and the email requesting additional information was not sent to the applicant or representative, the applicant must be given a second chance to comply.
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