Operational Bulletin 265-A – January 8, 2016

Email communication with clients

Effective date

Immediately

Expiry date, if any

n/a

Summary

This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides guidelines for email communication with clients. It applies to all lines of business with paper-based applications in the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) network. It includes instructions on how to save a sent email in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and provide evidence of sent emails for litigation purposes.

Issue

This OB provides instructions regarding the protocol for email communication with clients for all IRCC lines of business with paper-based applications. Based on jurisprudence outlining the requirement that IRCC be able to demonstrate that correspondence was sent to a client, this OB specifies how to save sent emails and how to provide evidence that an email was sent in the event of litigation.

Background

Email communication with applicants is efficient, cost effective, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is increasingly becoming the method of communication of choice for applicants. Email communication is IRCC’s preferred method of communication with clients and a key component of the Department’s Service Excellence Agenda for client service.

The jurisprudence from the Federal Court generally establishes that once the Minister of IRCC proves that the email correspondence was sent to the most up to date email address provided by the applicant, the applicant bears the risk involved in a failure to receive the email correspondence. Evidence that an email was sent can be established by producing a printout of the sent email to the email address supplied by the client and confirming that there was no indication of non-delivery (i.e., the email did not “bounce back”).

IRCC intends, as part of the Integrated Network Project, to redesign the current processing model by moving away from a paper based, place based model in order to achieve seamless, flexible, and responsive delivery for all lines of business. In the interim, until more programs offer e-services and client communication via MyCIC, the following email communication procedures will apply for the lines of business that receive paper-based applications.

Instructions

Consent to communicate via email

Offices should communicate with applicants via email, provided that IRCC has the applicant’s consent to communicate in this manner. Consent is given by an applicant in any of the following circumstances:

  • A completed application form includes an email address.
  • An applicant submits a signed Use of a Representative form [IMM 5476] that includes the immigration representative’s email address.
    • If the immigration representative’s email address is included in the IMM 5476 form, all correspondence, including the client’s file and personal information, should be sent to the immigration representative.
  • An applicant initiates email communication with IRCC, supplying an email address.

By providing an email address using any of these methods, the client authorizes IRCC to transmit all correspondence, including their file and personal information, to this specific email address. If the client does not provide an email address, correspondence will be issued to the client or representative using an alternate method of communication (e.g., paper mail).

Communication with clients

When email communication via Microsoft Outlook is used for correspondence with clients, including requests for additional documentation, convocations for interview, approval letters, and refusal letters, offices should ensure the following:

  • The email address inserted in the recipient line is identical to the one provided by the client or immigration representative.
  • The email requesting additional documentation or convoking a client for an interview provides a reasonable period of time for the client to respond (i.e., provide requested submissions or attend a scheduled interview).
    • Given the uniqueness of each country and the variety of issues that could affect applicants’ communication with IRCC, offices are encouraged to set a reasonable time limit for receipt of the documentation considering the local communication arrangements.
  • The email is sent from the office’s generic mailbox to facilitate email management.
  • The sent Microsoft Outlook email is uploaded as an eDoc and manually attached to the outgoing correspondence record in GCMS.
    • Saving sent emails as eDocs enables the sent emails, including content and attachments, to be traced and retrieved at a later date.
  • If a response is not received from the applicant within the requested time period, offices will record the following note in GCMS:
    • “An email was sent to the applicant [requesting additional documentation/convoking them for an interview]. The applicant was advised that failure to [provide the requested documentation/attend a scheduled interview] may result in a [refusal/abandonment] of their application. The applicant [failed to comply with the request/requested an extension to provide the requested information].”
  • If an “undeliverable” message is received, offices must verify whether the email address has been changed or updated in GCMS and resend the message to the updated email address supplied by the client. If the initial email was sent to the most up to date email address but an “undeliverable” message was received, an alternate method of communication (e.g., paper mail) should be used to send the correspondence to the client.
  • The read notification function is not to be used as a means of verifying that the client received the email.
    • Read notifications are not considered a reliable method of confirming the receipt of an email sent by IRCC because they do not function once the email leaves the IRCC system and reaches an outside server.

Attaching a sent email (eDoc) to an outgoing correspondence record

  • In the Sent Microsoft Outlook folder, highlight the email and right click and select “Copy” or use Ctrl + C to copy the sent email,
    • The sent email must be equal to or less than 4 MB in size and must be in .msg format.
    • If the size of the sent email exceeds 4 MB, print the sent email (with attachments, if any) and match to the file in order to enable retrieval at a later date, if necessary.
  • Open the common drive or GCMS uploads folder and right click and select “Paste” or use Ctrl + V to paste the sent email. Alternatively, open the email in the Sent Microsoft Outlook folder and click “Save As” to save the email to the common drive (select “Outlook Message Format” in the “Save as type” list).
  • Navigate to the application within GCMS.
  • Click the Correspondence view tab within the application.
  • Click the Outgoing sub-tab. The system will display a list of outgoing correspondence records associated with the application. If a document record that was already generated in GCMS is displayed, the attachment record will need to be deleted to enable the “New” button.
  • Highlight the “Word LTR 02” attachment record, in the Correspondence Attachments applet.
  • Click the Menu drop-down.
  • Select Delete Record or Ctrl + D to delete the record.
  • Click OK. This will enable the “New” button.
  • Click New in the Correspondence Attachments applet. The system will display the GCMS e-Storage window.
  • Click Select File. The system will navigate to the computer’s hard drive.
  • Select the sent email saved in the GCMS uploads folder in the common drive and click on Open to attach it to the outgoing correspondence record in GCMS. The system will indicate that the file was successfully uploaded and confirm the e-storage identifier number (eDoc number).
  • Close the window.
  • Press Alt + Enter to save and refresh the page. The system will display a record of the uploaded email in the Correspondence Attachments applet. The e-storage identifier number will also be displayed.
  • Change the status of Outgoing Correspondence to “Sent” via “Email” and include the email address in the Via details.

Recording content and details of the sent email in notes

This is to be used as an alternative to uploading the sent email as an eDoc and attaching it to the outgoing correspondence record in the event that there are technical difficulties with the eDocs function in GCMS.

  • Copy the content of the sent email, including details on the date and time it was sent and the email address to which it was sent.
  • Navigate to the Notes tab in the client’s application.
  • Click New to create a new note.
  • Paste the contents of the sent email in the note and click within the main screen to save.

File transfers

If the client has consented to communication via email with IRCC, offices should immediately notify the applicant by email that their file has been transferred to another office. This applies only to major file transfers for processing purposes (e.g., from an inland case processing centre to a visa office overseas) and is not applicable to file transfers related to triaging. Where communication was initially being sent from one office and the file has now been transferred to another office, it is also important to notify the client of the transfer.

Requests for reconsideration or reactivation

A decision maker may declare an application abandoned (section 13.2 of the Citizenship Act) or refuse an application for non compliance (section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations) if the applicant fails to comply with the request for additional information.

The onus is on the applicant to satisfy the decision maker that reconsideration of their application is warranted. However, in cases where the applicant or representative requests reconsideration of the immigration application, stating that they did not receive an email instructing them to provide additional information, the decision maker must consider all relevant factors and circumstances of the case to determine whether to exercise their discretion to reconsider the application.

Where 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 office responsible for processing the application should reopen the application and provide the applicant with the opportunity to submit the required documentation.

For citizenship applications, abandoned applications are to be reactivated only if there has been an administrative error by citizenship officials (e.g., an applicant advised the citizenship office of a new email address and the office sent the notice to take the Oath of Citizenship to the applicant’s former address).

Any decision on whether to exercise discretion to reconsider is subject to judicial review before the Federal Court. Therefore, all decisions should be well documented in the GCMS file with the rationale and supporting documentation to reflect that IRCC received, assessed and rendered a decision on the request for reconsideration.

For additional information on reconsideration, see Humanitarian and compassionate assessment: Reconsideration of a negative H&C decision, section 17.4 of chapter IP 8, Response to enquiries after refusal, and the instructions on reactivating abandoned applications.

Evidence of sent emails for litigation cases

In cases of litigation alleging non receipt of an email, decision makers should provide a copy of the sent email by printing a copy of the eDoc found under the outgoing correspondence record or by printing a copy of the note containing the date, time, the content of the sent email, and the recipient’s email address in the client’s GCMS file.

Manual chapter(s) to be updated

n/a

NHQ contact

OMC-GOC-Immigration@cic.gc.ca

Edited by Strategic Communications, Communications Branch, IRCC

Date Modified: