How to submit the request for GCMS Notes
when your visa was refused?

If you are one of the unfortunate people that has just had their Canadian visa application refused, it can be one of the most frustrating experiences of your life. Travel plans are spoiled and the hopes of being reunited with distant friends and relatives are in serious jeopardy.

And to make matters worse, the rejection letter provides only a vague reference to an officer’s belief that “you would not leave Canada at the end of your stay”.  You know there must be more to it than that. If only there was a way to get a copy of the visa office file materials so that you could learn the “real reasons” your application was rejected.

Well there is a way to get those file materials and I’m going to show you how!

The Canadian Immigration visa rejection letter will almost always have the following statement enclosed at the end:

Should you wish to reapply, I would suggest that you do so only if your situation has changed substantively or you have significant new information to submit.

If you want to have any hope of getting that refusal overturned, or a second application approved, getting your hands on your immigration Physical File is essential. It will be critical that you know what evidence, or lack thereof, influenced the officer in believing you wouldn’t go home if the visa was approved.

It is only by knowing this information that you will then be in a position to provide “significant new information” on your next application in hopes of getting it approved. By satisfying the underlying concerns revealed in the officers hidden notes, you will then be able to reduce the chances of a second refusal.

The best way to get that information is to do an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request (often referred to as GCMS Notes, so we’ll use those terms interchangeably) to the Government of Canada. If done properly, this request will give you copies of the actual file materials and a glimpse into the officer’s detailed “internal” reasons for refusing your application. Armed with this knowledge, you are going to be much more likely to have success on your next application.

ATIPs can be used to access government information from a lot of different sources. However, we are going to focus exclusively on requesting a copy of the file materials and officer’s notes related to your rejected Canadian visa. 

Getting Started with the GCMS Notes Request (ATIP).

In order to submit an ATIP request, you must either be a Canadian Citizen, permanent resident, or an individual or corporation physically present in Canada. If you are a foreign national wanting to make an ATIP request and you are not currently present in Canada, you will need to find a representative to complete this for you. If someone else is submitting an ATIP on your behalf, you must sign a consent form allowing them to do so.

You can download the IMM5477: Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information.

Please also note there is a small $5 CAD processing fee for IRCC’s trouble in providing this information.

Step by Step Instructions for Requesting your GCMS Notes

An ATIP can be submitted by mail or online. I recommend filing online as it is much quicker. I have set out below the essential steps needed to file your online ATIP request.

What happens next after your submit your ATIP Request for GCMS Notes?

IRCC will now process your ATIP application. They will send it to you by your indicated method (E-mail or CD).

Typically, an ATIP request should take no longer than 30 days. However, if you are requesting a Physical File from a consulate abroad, it will often take up to 60 days, or on rare occasions even longer. If 60 days have passed and you have not received your requested information be sure to follow up with IRCC and provide copies of your receipts and submitted application.

After you have received your requested file materials you will be able to see exactly why your application was refused. With this information you are now armed with the information you need to refile your application again and give yourself the best chance of success.

Need help with submitting or interpreting your GCMS Notes? Book a consultation with one of our Canadian Immigration Expert :

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