GCMS Notes Canada: How to, Tracking, and Samples

GCMS Notes Canada: How to, Tracking, and Samples

How to Submit ATIP Requests for GCMS & CSIS Notes

GCMS notes or CSIS notes can be requested through Access to Information and Privacy Acts (ATIP) requests. This is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when immigrating to Canada. There are numerous use cases for submitting an ATIP to access GCMS or CSIS Notes, especially when your application is delayed or rejected. You can order GCMS or CSIS Notes with ImmiSearch or submit a request yourself. In this guide, we will go over the following:

What is ATIP?

Laws in Canada give you the right to access general records and personal information held by government institutions. These laws are called the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP). Although there are various government institutions, what’s interesting to note is that over 50% of all ATIP requests are submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for GCMS notes. Between 2019 and 2020, over 132,000 requests were made to IRCC.

Are GCMS notes useful? Well, when used properly, you can obtain in-depth information regarding your applications which significantly increases the advantage you have in successfully immigrating to Canada.

What are GCMS Notes?

GCMS stands for Global Case Management System. It is a system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to process files. What’s important is that GCMS will contain your immigration and citizenship application details such as documents received, correspondence between you and IRCC, detailed immigration officer notes reviewing your file, and more. As you can imagine, having access to your GCMS Notes can be extremely helpful, especially in these circumstances:

  • To check the status of your application
  • To check if there is any reason for delays
  • To prepare for interviews
  • To understand why your application was rejected

What’s the difference between GCMS Notes from IRCC VS CBSA?

GCMS Notes from IRCC and CBSA look very similar. However, there are a couple of differences that are worth mentioning:

  1. GCMS Notes from CBSA will generally have security information available.
  2. GCMS Notes from CBSA will include your complete travel history report of entries and exits to/from Canada.

If you need access to this information on top of regular GCMS notes, it may make more sense for you to submit an ATIP request for GCMS notes from the CBSA. 

What are CSIS Notes?

CSIS Notes refer specifically to information related to your immigration or citizenship application received by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). It discloses information such as when your file was received, when processing was completed, and details about the background check and security screening regarding your file. When processing times for your immigration application are delayed, it can be helpful to submit an ATIP request for CSIS Notes to check if there were any issues regarding the background check or security screening CSIS conducted on your file.

Who can request GCMS and CSIS Notes?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and any individual present or corporation in Canada can make a request. If you are neither of the above, you can ask a representative like ImmiSearch to make a request on your behalf.

How long does it take to get GCMS notes? (or CSIS notes)

The majority of GCMS notes are delivered within 30 days. Government agencies like IRCC, CBSA, and CSIS are required to respond to your ATIP request within 30 calendar days of receiving it. While the majority of requests are completed within 30 calendar days, this period may be extended for 30, 60, or 90 days if:

  • the request is for a large number of records
  • the request requires a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution.
  • external consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within the original time limit
  • additional time is necessary for translation purposes, or 
  • notice to a third party is required to advise him or her that his or her information is the subject of a request

How do you ask for GCMS notes?

Submitting an ATIP request for GCMS notes is relatively simple. Here is a full example of what the ATIP Request page should look like. Here are the steps to submitting an ATIP request:

  • Visit the ATIP Online Request page
  • Agree with the Privacy Notice and click ‘continue’
  • Select the department ‘Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’ (IRCC)
  • Select the relevant category that describes you
  • Fill out the rest of the form to your best ability and click ‘continue’
  • Select ‘Access to Information Act’ for the type of information
  • Select ‘Immigration/Citizenship Records’ for the type of records
  • Fill out the rest of your form
  • The ‘Client ID Number’ is also referred to as the “Unique Client Identifier” (UCI) Number. The format is either 00-0000-0000 or 0000-0000
  • Select the type of record you would like
  • The ‘File Number’ is a number unique to your application. It usually begins with one or more letters and is followed by 9 digitals. For example: E123456789, RP12345678, or RHB1234567.
  • Click continue and make payment

Here is a full example of what the ATIP Request page should look like.

How much does an ATIP Request cost?

The current cost of submitting an ATIP request is $5.00 per request. Ordering GCMS or CSIS Notes through ImmiSearch is only $10.00 per request.

How do you interpret GCMS Notes?

ATIP requests for GCMS notes can be hundreds of pages but you don’t need to worry. The officer’s electronic notes regarding your file will be available on the last few pages of the document you receive. Understanding this should be straightforward however, it can be difficult to understand what are the necessary next steps or to understand how the officer’s notes impact your application. In these situations, it is helpful to order Notes Analysis with ImmiSearch to ensure you fully understand and can utilize the notes to increase your chances of a successful application.

Sample GCMS Notes

Here is a sample GCMS Note with in-depth descriptions of each field so you can easily understand the content of your GCMS notes.



GCMS Notes Canada: How to, Tracking, and Samples
Kevin Lee
CEO & Co-founder of ImmiSearch
August 11, 2021