Canada’s immigration department is promising to give partial refunds starting this month for citizenship and International Experience Canada program fees – and a few other fees related to passports and travel documents – when they get sub-par service.
Under the Service Fees Act, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other federal governments are obligated to return a portion of any fee paid for a government service when the department’s service standard is not met.
The IRCC’s departmental remission policy which covers such refunds came into effect Apr. 1 and obligates the government to provide the remission without the person who paid the fee having to do anything to request it.
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These remissions are typical to be issued by July 1 of the following fiscal year through whatever method the applicant used to make the original payment, or by cheque for payments that are not made online.
There is one snag for those who pay fees, though. Think of it as a loophole for the government when the IRCC is faced with exceptional circumstances that caused the delay. Under those circumstances, partial refunds are not paid out.
On its website, the IRCC says those “exceptional circumstances” include but are not limited to:
- unforeseen system disruptions and/or failures;
- natural disasters;
- emergency situations that cause:
- closure of an office;
- a reduction in the service offerings within the office, or;
- a surge of applications outside the department’s control that causes a disruption to the normal operation of an office;
- unforeseen office closures;
- labour disruption;
- third-party service and/or service provider service interruptions or delays, where IRCC does not have a contractual agreement with the service provider;
- major legislative and/or policy changes enacted by foreign governments.
Outside of those situations, those who paid fees should be able to get a partial refund for the following fees if the service standards are not met by the IRCC.
Citizenship Fee Subject To Partial Refund When Service Takes More Than Four Months
The right of citizenship service standard has been set at a maximum of four months. Within the first four months of the date of a positive grant decision, an invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony must be sent to the applicant.
Failure by the IRCC to do that will result in partial refunds of 25 per cent of the fee for less than four months past the service standard and 50 per cent of the fee if the invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony comes more than four months past the service standard.
For citizenship applications that are refused, abandoned or withdrawn, applicants already get a full refund of their fee.
International Experience Canada Standard Is 56 Days
Partial refunds under the International Experience Canada program are provided when the service is not provided within 56 days. The remissions are:
- 25 per cent of the fee for 28 days or fewer past the service standard, and;
- 50 per cent of the fee for 29 days or more past the service standard.
When it comes to passport and travel documents, the service standard varies depending on the type of document.
There are processing fees for:
- Adults and children’s five and 10-year passports requested inside or outside Canada or the U.S.;
- temporary passport fees;
- adult refugee travel documents, and;
- adult certificates of identity.
Under the new policy, partial refunds of 25 per cent of the fee are to be paid when the service is up to 10 days late and 50 per cent when the service is late by 11 days or more.