Procedure: One-year window of opportunity provision (OYW)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Every effort should be made to ensure that families and in particular spouses, common-law partners and dependent children are not separated, or, if separation is unavoidable, that reunification is facilitated to the greatest extent possible.

Under the one-year window of opportunity provision (OYW), non-accompanying family members (following family members) may be eligible to be processed in the same class as the principal applicant for a period of one year following the confirmation of permanent residence of the principal applicant in Canada. All family members must be identified on the principal applicant’s application form to be eligible for OYW processing.

When processing the principal applicant’s case under the private sponsorship program, it is important to ensure that any family members identified on the PA’s IMM 0008 have also been included in the sponsor’s undertaking. If family members are not included on the undertaking, their processing under OYW may become complicated if the sponsor is unable or unwilling to add them to the undertaking. It is, therefore, important that in such cases the visa office contact the local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office, which will contact the sponsor in order to:

  • amend the undertaking;
  • re-assess the settlement plan; or
  • withdraw the sponsorship.

The processing of the PA’s application should not recommence until such time as all family members are included on the undertaking.

About the provision

Eligibility

The principal applicant must have been authorized to enter Canada as a member of the:

  • Convention refugee from abroad class (CR); or
  • Country of asylum class (RA).

Non-accompanying family members

The OYW applies to specific family members. Not all persons eligible to be sponsored under the family class program are eligible for consideration under the OYW. The non-accompanying family member must be a family member of the principal applicant as defined in R1(3):

  • spouses,
  • common-law partners,
  • dependent children, and
  • dependent children of dependent children of the principal applicant.

To minimize unnecessary work in the visa offices, and to better inform relatives in Canada, local IRCC offices are asked to screen requests to process family under the OYW in Canada. Final decisions on whether family members are eligible under the program rests with the visa officer assessing the applications for permanent residence.

Under OYW, family members derive the status of the principal applicant in Canada, so he or she need not meet the eligibility requirements of the CR or RA classes in their own right. However, they are to be counted as either a GAR or PSR depending on the stream in which the original principal applicant was processed prior to arrival in Canada.

De facto dependants

De facto dependants are not eligible under the OYW program as they do not meet the definition of family member outlined in R1(3). However, if a non-accompanying family member abroad identifies a de facto dependant, the application should be considered for concurrent processing, meaning that the de facto dependant must submit a separate application, be listed on the non-accompanying family member’s IMM 0008, must be found to be a refugee in their own right, and must meet all admissibility requirements.

Should the de facto dependant not be found to be a refugee in their own right, the visa officer may consider processing the applicant on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. This would be the only way to overcome the requirement under R140.2 and R140.3 (access) and R139 (eligibility), assuming the de facto dependant has neither an undertaking, nor a referral, nor resides in a geographic area designated by the Minister for direct access.

General requirements

As per R141(1) and R142, to be processed as following family members under the one year window of opportunity provision, family members must:

  • have been identified on the principal applicant's application for permanent residence (IMM 0008) before the principal applicant departed for Canada;
  • have been a family member as defined in R1(3) at the time the principal applicant originally submitted their application for permanent residence (IMM 0008);
  • continue to be a family member at the time the one-year window application is filed and at the time the final decision is made (for exception, see “age exemption” below);
  • have submitted their own application for permanent residence at a visa office within one year of the date of arrival of the principal applicant in Canada.

Non-accompanying family members must submit their application to the visa office that serves their area. The application does not need to be accompanied by a referral by the UNHCR, another referral agency or an undertaking.

Age exemption

As stated above, a following family member must meet the definition of “family member” found in subsection R1(3) at the time of the principal applicant’s application and at the time the final decision is reached. The only exception to this rule concerns age. As per R142(b), the age of any dependent child is locked in on the date IRCC receives an application for permanent residence from the principal applicant. Therefore, a person who has turned 19 years of age since the original application from the principal applicant was made, and who meets all other requirements, will still qualify as a dependent child under the one year window of opportunity provision.

Before August 1, 2014, the definition of a dependent child included children who were under 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner, or who were 22 years of age or older and have depended substantially on the financial support of the parent either because they are a full-time student or they have a physical or mental condition.

On August 1, 2014, the definition of dependent child was changed to include children who are less than 19 years old and not a spouse or common-law partner, or who are 19 or older and have depended substantially on the parent since before the age of 19 because they are unable to be self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

The pre-amendment definition of dependent child applies if IRCC received the principal applicant’s application for permanent residence before August 1, 2014.

Private sponsorship

In those cases where the principal applicant was privately sponsored, the sponsor must be notified of the non-accompanying family member’s application to ensure that the sponsor is still able and willing to make adequate settlement arrangements. If the sponsor will not provide support and a new sponsor cannot be found, send a procedural fairness letter giving the PSR applicant an opportunity to find a new sponsor. In such events, the OYW application will likely be refused on the basis that adequate financial arrangements have not been made [R141(1)(d)]. However, the visa office may assess the identified family member as a refugee in their own right and resettle them under the GAR program or as a self-supporting refugee. If the applicant does not qualify as a refugee, the visa office may consider recommending a humanitarian and compassionate grounds application or counsel the applicant to pursue a family class sponsorship.

Ability to establish

The ability to establish was already assessed for the whole family at the time the principal applicant applied for a permanent resident visa [R139(1)(g)]. Refer to the case notes in the principal applicant’s application if needed.

In urgent protection and vulnerable cases, the principal applicant is exempt from meeting the requirement of ability to establish. However, an assessment of non-accompanying family members should still be completed for the purpose of determining if any family member has special settlement needs so that adequate settlement arrangements can be made in Canada.

Admissibility

As with all applications, the principal applicant and the non-accompanying family members must meet the statutory requirements (medical, security and criminality) under IRPA Division 4.

Forms

All non-accompanying family members must complete parts B, C, and D of the IMM 0008 Schedule 2, Refugees Outside of Canada. It is not required that Part A be completed since family members derive status from the principal applicant. Should the OYW application be complete, the visa office may consider waiving the interview and determining the application on paper. However, if necessary, family members may be interviewed for verification purposes.

Coding and systems

“OYW “will be used for this special program on the visas of the non-accompanying family members. Since only one special program code gets transferred from CAIPS to the IMM 5292B, where there is more than one special code that applies, officers should enter OYW as the first code.

Principal applicant’s GCMS file

Non-accompanying family members will be listed in the principal applicant’s GCMS file. The principal applicant’s file will be closed when the permanent resident visa is issued and will be cross-referenced with the non- accompanying dependant’s file when processing is initiated.

Access to FOSS

GCMS users are able to access FOSS data for the date of confirmation of permanent residence status or entry.

Processing non-accompanying family members

When it is unclear in the case notes that a family member has been declared on the principal applicant’s IMM 008, the local IRCC office will contact the applicable visa office that issued the principal applicant’s permanent resident visa in order to confirm that the family member was listed on the IMM 0008. All such requests should be titled “One-Year Window Case: Eligibility Query.”

Visa offices are asked to respond to requests for confirmation within four weeks. In those instances where the visa office does not respond within this four-week period, or in instances where the deadline for the one-year window is fast approaching and a timely response from the visa office is not possible, the local IRCC office will forward the request form directly to the visa office without confirming eligibility. Where appropriate, the visa office will then ensure that the eligible family members are sent a copy of the IMM 0008.

Procedures are different for Quebec, notably those which concern communication between Quebec and IRCC Quebec region and the visa offices, the responsibilities assumed by Quebec relative to the sponsorship program and the financing of refugees.

Screening and processing abroad

In cases where applications for resettlement are submitted to the visa office even though the person is clearly not eligible due to:

  • the person not meeting the definition of family member, or
  • the submission of the application outside the designated one-year window, or
  • the person not being listed on the principal applicant’s original application.

There is no need for the visa officer to convoke the person for an interview. The refusal letter should clearly state why the person is not eligible for resettlement under the OYW program. The officer must apply the principle of procedural fairness in all cases. In cases where it is not clear whether the person is ineligible, the officer may assess them as refugees in their own right.

If the visa officer feels it is appropriate, the case may be referred to the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) as a case referred by a visa office so another sponsoring group may be located or, if they meet the Convention refugee abroad class definition, the applicants may be processed as Government-assisted refugees.

Difficulty in obtaining exit permits

In some instances, complications in processing OYW applications may arise as a result of the applicant’s difficulties in obtaining an exit permit. IRCC is not obliged to negotiate for individual exit permits.

Generally speaking, such files should be kept open as long as possible and visa officers should not issue a permanent resident visa until such time as they feel the applicant is likely to be issued an exit permit. However, in those instances where the issuance of an exit permit at any time in the future is extremely unlikely, the visa officer may choose to finalize the case (issue the permanent resident visa) and hold the visa on file until expiry. Even in this last scenario it is recommended that visa officers keep the file open as long as possible, perhaps re-doing medical examinations once.

In every case, it is important to remember that officers are dealing with dependants of refugees who may never qualify for permanent residence under the family class. Extra flexibility should, therefore, be shown when processing such cases.

Arranging loans and transportation

The local IRCC office will:

  • have the PA sign an Immigration Loan and Undertaking to Repay [IMM 0501B]; and
  • request that the visa officer have dependent children (other than minors) sign an Immigration Loan/Contribution [IMM 0500E] and fax to the local IRCC office a copy of the signed form.

Note: Non-accompanying family members would have been included previously in the assessment for loan approval by an officer. Although the principal applicant can put the dependent children on their own transportation loan, 18- to 22 year-old dependent children can also have their own transportation loans. Full loans procedures.

Processing of travel arrangements by local IRCC office and visa office

Once the non-accompanying family members have received their permanent resident visas, the visa office will:

  • contact the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office and/or a travel agent, whoever is most appropriate in that country, to make the travel arrangements; or
  • contact the local IRCC office who will advise the principal applicant to contact the IOM New York or a travel agent to make the travel arrangements.
  • send a Notification of Arrival (NAT) once the travel arrangements have been made.

In cases where the IOM has made the travel arrangements, the IOM or the visa office will send a NAT to the local IRCC office (with copy to the ROC-O) with the date and time of arrival of the non-accompanying family members. In cases where a travel agent other than the IOM was used, the visa officer will send a NAT to the local IRCC office (with a copy to the ROC-O), with the date and time of arrival of the non-accompanying family members.

Processing joint assistance sponsorship cases (JAS) under the OYW

In cases where the principal applicant was selected under a JAS, the principal applicant will submit an application for the processing of the non-accompanying family members at the local IRCC office responsible for providing their RAP income support benefits. The local IRCC office will evaluate the level of support required with the inclusion of the following non-accompanying family members under OYW.

For example, a case may no longer qualify as a JAS if the arrival of the non-accompanying family members will provide adequate care and support to the principal applicant. The reverse could also happen. The circumstances of the non-accompanying family member(s) may be such that the officer will recommend the support of a JAS. The local IRCC office can switch the level of assistance and should consult with NHQ for procedures.

Procedures for processing JAS cases under the OYW are the same as the general procedures for processing non-accompanying family members.

See IP 3, In-Canada Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad and Members of the Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad Classes – Part 3 for full in Canada procedures for the OYW program.

Date Modified: