Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) facilitates the arrival of immigrants, provides protection to refugees, and offers programming to help newcomers settle in Canada. It also grants citizenship, issues travel documents (such as passports) to Canadians; and promotes multiculturalism.
IRCC was formerly called Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The use of the new name for this federal department began shortly after the Canadian government led by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took office in November 2015.
Although the acronym “CIC” continues to be used in some cases, it has become increasingly evident in the first months of the current government term that “IRCC” is preferred in official publications and communications. The current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is John McCallum, a long-time and experienced MP with extensive knowledge of the immigration file.
The addition of the word ‘refugees’ in the official name of the government department reflects the government’s increased focus on humanitarian and refugee immigration to Canada. That being said, the government has made it clear that Canada will maintain an open and welcoming immigration policy for skilled immigrants and family class programs. There is no evidence to suggest that economic immigration or family reunification is less important to this government than its predecessors; indeed, the government has pledged to increase funding allocated to IRCC to improve program delivery and processing times.
To avoid confusion, individuals and stakeholders should note that CIC and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) IRCC are not two separate departments. If documents or publications refer to CIC in one case and IRCC in another, they actually refer to the same department. IRCC is not so much a new department as the successor to a department that has existed for many years; CIC saw its mandate slightly modified and was renamed IRCC. However, the name CIC may continue to be used for some time by certain stakeholders, such as the provincial and territorial governments of Canada.
The Immigration section of the department’s title refers to Canada’s efforts to establish and maintain a policy for welcoming newcomers in a way that benefits Canadians and newcomers. Canada has always been a country with a progressive and open immigration policy, with most Canadians able to trace their foreign ancestors in just a few generations. With Canada facing a demographic challenge and seeking solid economic growth and security, immigration is likely to continue to play an important role in Canada’s future.
What immigration programs can I apply for?
We have an online tool called Come to Canada. It helps foreign nationals find out if they may be eligible to apply as immigrants, visitors, workers or students in Canada.
This tool guides you through some questions about your personal and work history. Based on your responses and your situation, it then gives you:
- a list of options; and
- step-by-step instructions on how to apply.
The Come to Canada tool is for reference only. No immigration decision will be made based on your answers. If you choose to apply, an immigration officer will consider your complete application based on Canada’s immigration law. Your results from the tool will have no bearing on their decision.
If you may be eligible as a visitor, worker, or student you can apply online. The tool will direct you to your account, where you can create an account and fill out the online application. You may also have the option to complete a paper application.
If you may be eligible to immigrate permanently under Express Entry, you must apply online (unless you cannot because of a disability). The tool will direct you to your account, where you will create an account and can fill out the online application.
If you may be eligible to immigrate permanently under any other program, you must submit a paper application.
The Refugees section of IRCC reflects two main factors. First, the instability and conflicts of recent years in certain regions of the world have led to an increase in the number of refugees worldwide. These individuals and families have been forced to leave their homes and are often in extremely vulnerable situations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that in June 2015, there were 60 million refugees worldwide.
The second factor to consider is that the current government has approached this issue quickly and with a certain degree of compassion. During the Canadian federal election campaign in 2015, Trudeau and other prominent members of the Liberal Party argued that the best solution for Canada and international refugees would be for Canada to increase the number of refugees settled in the country and provide additional resources to provide security and opportunities for long-term refugees.
Every person is entitled to protection from persecution.
Canada has recognized this basic human right since 1951 when it signed the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (the Geneva Convention). The right to life, liberty and security of the person is also enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
To be granted asylum in Canada as a refugee, a person must be outside his or her home country and have a well-founded fear of persecution. According to the Geneva Convention, the fear must not only be well-founded, the persecution must also be based on reasons of race, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. However, a less restrictive interpretation of the feared persecution may also lead to refugee status. For example, Canada recognizes that women can be persecuted because of their gender and that the definition of a refugee should be interpreted to also include this form of persecution. A variety of circumstances can make a person a refugee. Some examples can be found here.
Bringing refugees to Canada from outside the country is known as resettlement. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly CIC) resettles individuals and families based on referrals from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), other referral organizations, and private sponsorship groups.
One of the defining features of Canada’s immigration policy is that it paves the way for Canadian citizenship for those who make the major decision to immigrate to Canada. Becoming a Canadian citizen and joining the Canadian family is very often a humiliating and emotional reference in the life of an immigrant.
Citizenship remains an important element of IRCC, as it did before the department’s name change.
Canadian Citizenship Eligibility
A Canadian immigrant may apply for Canadian Citizenship after spending at least three years in Canada as a permanent resident. Do you meet the requirements for Canadian citizenship?
Applying for Canadian Citizenship
You will need to satisfy several requirements to submit a Canadian citizenship application, and may then need to take a Canadian citizenship test. Learn more about the process.
Canadian Citizenship Ceremony
Once you are approved as a Canadian citizen, you can attend a Citizenship Ceremony to take Canada’s Oath of Citizenship. What’s the Citizenship Ceremony like?
Rights and Responsibilities of Canadian Citizens
Canadian permanent residents enjoy many, but not all, of the rights of Canadian citizens. Learn the additional rights that you will have as a Canadian citizen.
Canada recognizes dual citizenship. You are not required by Canada to give up your previous citizenship once you become a Canadian citizen. How does this work?