application tips


The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website ( has an extensive guide to completing an application for Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad. This guide is not official but contains definitions, explanations, and instructions, as well as all necessary forms. It is recommended to read this guide thoroughly while applying.

Click here to go directly to the guide.
Click here for a downloadable PDF copy of the guide (319 KB).
Click here for a downloadable Microsoft Word copy of the guide (99.3 KB).

guidelines to help you with your application

There are a number of forms that must be filled out and submitted
  • Generic Application Form for Canada - IMM 0008
  • Additional Dependants/Declaration - IMM 0008DEP (if applicable)
  • Schedule A - Background Declaration - IMM 5669
  • Schedule 2 - Refugees Outside Canada - IMM 0008 Schedule 2
  • Use of a Representative- IMM 5476 (if applicable)
  • Document Checklist

These forms, along with instructions for completing them, may be found in the guide above. The Document Checklist is helpful in explaining which forms must be submitted, as well as which visa offices require translation or certification of supporting documents.

Written Account

In addition to these forms, IT IS IMMENSELY HELPFUL to include a written account of your story from birth through to your current situation. This helps to tie all the various elements of the applications together into a cohesive whole.

Family Name

“Family name” in Canadian usage means your last or “surname”. It does not mean all the names that you have that may descend from your forebears. It means ONE NAME ONLY. It means the name by which you will be listed in any alphabetical listing, like the telephone directory. Only place this one name in the space provided for “family name”.

Height and eye colour

These questions MUST be answered. The answers become a part of your identification on the Permanent Resident Card that will be issued to you after you arrive in Canada.

List ALL your immediate family – spouse and children

List them whether or not they are with you or will be traveling to Canada with you. If they are not listed, they may be excluded forever from joining you. Canada’s rules are firm in this regard.

photos specifications

Canada Immigration has changed the requirements for photographs. They are NOT the same as passport photos. The specifications are listed in the guide above under Appendix C. It is recommended bringing those specifications with you to the photographer. Photos must have a plain white background and be stamped on the back with the name of the photographer and the date.

List all previous addresses, since age 18

Question 12 on Schedule A requires that you list all your previous addresses since you were 18, or for the last ten years. This is important!

Work Experience

Question 10 on Schedule 2 requires that you give examples of work experience and skills. THIS DOES NOT NEED TO BE PAID WORK. Knowledge of housework, childcare, cleaning, and cooking all count as work experience and skills.

De facto Dependants

Question 13 on Schedule 2 asks you to list de facto dependants. Citizenship and Immigration Canada defines de facto dependants this way:
"A de facto dependant is a person considered by the refugee family to be an integral member of the family unit, but who does not meet the definition of family member. For example, an elderly aunt who has always lived with the principal applicant may be a de facto dependant."
Click here for more details about who does or does not qualify as a de facto dependant.

Sign and date the Schedules!

Be sure to sign and date BOTH Schedule A and Schedule 2.

Include Identification

Include copies of any identification or documentation that proves your story (e.g. birth certificates, marriage license, UNHCR-refugee number, etc.). DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS. Click here to see the Document Checklist for further information about documents.

Separate applications for ALL over 18

A separate application is required for all members of the family aged 18 or over except for the spouse. The spouse however must complete a separate Schedule A and Schedule 2 to be included with the application. The spouse may also include a separate written account of their story to this point.

Tips to Minimize / Avoid Rejections

Make sure they are really refugees

Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program is NOT an immigration program, it is a refugee rescue program.

Find out about the situation in the country of asylum

Choose a country where the refugee is not likely to be rejected because Canada says there is a “durable solution” there.

Make sure the original application filed with Canada Immigration is complete in all details

It is a good idea to accompany it with a personal account by the refugee of his or her story.

Make sure that the refugee keeps a copy of his/her application

The family in Canada should keep one too, in case the refugee loses the copy. Many rejections happen because the refugee’s answers at interview do not match the answers written in the application, so the refugee loses credibility and the story is disbelieved.

Make sure that Canada Immigration and the visa post overseas know where the refugee is

Keep contact information current. The refugee should have both a telephone number and email if possible. Some visa posts are now using the telephone or email to contact refugees for interviews, and cases are being rejected because contact cannot be made.

Make sure that all supporting documents are real and true, and not fraudulent

It is better to submit NO document than a phony one. Phony documents make the refugee look like a liar, and some are being rejected for this reason.

Check the RSTP website for instructions on how to prepare for an interview

The instructions there are given in different languages. The refugee should be aware of this resource and should use it to prepare.