Visa Crunch

Non- Canadian immigrants can now enjoy rights to information and privacy requests

The Government of Canada announced a major change in the Canada Gazette to its rules for access to information and privacy (ATIP), earlier this month. This change will come into effect from July 2022 which will benefit the new immigration applicants.

The change might seem to be minor, but it has far-reaching consequences. With this change, the Canadian government will now allow anyone to make an ATIP request. With the new policy coming into effect, Canada will be now in compliance with the global ATIP standards. This also means that non- Canadian rights will also be greatly expanded.

Laws under the privacy act allow citizens to make ATIP requests to the federal government. As a federal agency, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is bounded by the privacy act.

At present, there are restrictions on who can place an ATIP request. One of the eligibility criteria restricts access to two classes of people:

  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents, inside or outside of Canada; and any entity (person or business) inside Canada, whether a citizen or not.

This restriction means that non-Canadians residing outside Canada are unable to make requests under the Privacy Act. Though there is an exception to this rule. A person who is ineligible can have someone who is eligible to make a request on their behalf. This procedure, however, can take a lot of time to process and expensive too.

The eligibility to make an ATIP request with IRCC can be extremely beneficial. The ATIP request can grant access to an individual’s Global Case Management System (GCMS) notes. The notes are comprehensive records of the individual’s immigration case. This explains the decision-making system and the way of thinking of IRCC and its staff members. It comprehends on the decision made by IRCC which can later be challenged in the court of law. For instance, the applicant can prove that the officer overlooked some information.

Most of the ATIP requests target IRCC. Keeping all the departments of federal government aside, IRCC has received the highest number of ATIP requests.

The change being so significant and important, IRCC anticipates that it will take some time to implement as all the forms and procedures must be modified. This also means that the number of requests will multiply by a large number which is why the government is delaying its implementation. The extension order was changed by the Canadian government on July 14, 2021, according to the Canada Gazette. However, the Gazette mentioned that the change will come into effect on the first anniversary of the publication which is on July 14, 2022.

The change in the rule is a huge step forward for non- Canadians. Due to its great significance and the change being so big, there is a lag in its effect.

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