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Frequently Asked Questions about requesting GCMS and Entire File from IRCC vs CBSA

Making a request for your GCMS or Entire File from IRCC or CBSA is a matter of personal preference. For most, requesting from IRCC will be sufficient. However there can be situations when requesting from CBSA may be a better choice. See when and why it can make sense to request your GCMS file from CBSA. The comparison below does not imply that CBSA is better than IRCC or that CBSA is faster than IRCC all the time. If you are concerned about processing delays then request your notes from both IRCC and CBSA.

Updated: April 14th, 2022

Govt. agency Content Delivery format Processing time Risk of delay
IRCC Officer's notes. Legacy layout of report Email / PDF 30 days Medium-High
CBSA Officer's notes. New layout of report Email / PDF 30 days Low-Medium
Government agency

IRCC IRCC

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is the department of the Government of Canada with responsibility for matters dealing with immigration to Canada, refugees, and Canadian citizenship

CBSA CBSA

The Canada Border Services Agency is a federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for border control, immigration enforcement, and customs services in Canada

SUMMARY

IRCC

Making a request from IRCC or CBSA is a matter of personal preference. For most, requesting from IRCC will be sufficient

CBSA

There can be situations when requesting from CBSA may be a better choice;

you have a deadline to meet and want the file from both IRCC and CBSA to reduce the risk of delay
your application is in progress and you want more information about Security Screening
you were found inadmissible and were refused entry to, or removed from Canada
you want maximum possible information about your file and want information from IRCC and CBSA

Source of information

IRCC

The Global Case Management System

CBSA

CBSA uses the Global Case Management System as well

Content

IRCC

GCMS Notes - Includes the status update of the file, the officers electronic notes and/or the reason for refusal

Entire File - Includes the status update of the file, the officers electronic notes and/or the reason for refusal copies of all forms and supporting documents sent to/from IRCC

CBSA

Includes the same information as provided by IRCC information administered by CBSA

Delivery format

IRCC

IRCC provides information via email as a PDF document

CBSA

Prior to the pandemic CBSA provided information via postal mail only. Currently CBSA follows the same protocol as IRCC

Processing time

IRCC

There is a great degree of variability with IRCC's performance; files from IRCC may arrive well before the due date, on the due date itself or may be delayed beyond the due date

IRCC receives the most requests of all government agencies and was also investigated by the Information Commissioner of Canada regarding delays

CBSA

Processing delays with CBSA can occur as well but overall CBSA has had a better track record for on-time performance

Statistics

IRCC

Requests received and completed

Requests received and completed

Completion times

Completion times

Complaint volumes

Complaint volumes
CBSA

Requests received and completed

Requests received and completed

Completion times

Of the 7,261 completed requests, the CBSA was successful in responding to 89.8% within the legislated timelines, a decrease from the 95.1% achieved last fiscal year.

Complaint volumes

The number of complaints filed against CBSA relate to only 1.8% of the 7,261 access to information requests completed during this period

Redaction

IRCC

IRCC and CBSA both do not disclose certain information that could be injurious to Canada's security or economy, federal-provincial relations and international affairs

In some cases IRCC will withhold certain types of information but CBSA will disclose the exact same information. Example; Security screening details are always redacted in files from IRCC. However, in most files from CBSA security screening details are not redacted

CBSA

Due to inconsistencies in how IRCC and CBSA release the exact same information, it can be beneficial in certain situations to request your file from both IRCC and CBSA. This will provide the maximum possible information about your file

Other

IRCC

  • IRCC will accept an e-sign Consent form with an audit log
  • For a minor child i.e. under the age of 16, consent from both parents is a requirement

CBSA

  • CBSA will also accept an e-sign Consent form with an audit log
  • For a minor child, consent from both parents is also a requirement however CBSA considers a minor to be someone under the age of 18

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