What is GCMS notes and how are they helpful during the lifespan of an immigration application?

The Global Case Management System (GCMS) is a tool used by Canadian agencies, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), to manage all sorts of official processes, including work permit, Express Entry and other types of applications. When using this system, immigration officers and other agents create and update notes that reflect detailed records regarding each file.

Although GCMS notes are of the utmost importance as they provide insight on the application through the lens of the decision-makers, for some reason they are not sufficiently covered by immigration channels. In this article, we are focusing on the benefits of requesting GCMS notes to revert a negative outcome of a file or try to expedite an application which has been stalled in the system for too long!

Information that is made available on the GCMS Notes

GCMS notes reflect the communication, decisions, and progress related to Canadian immigration applications. These notes document all communications between the officers and the applicant and/or their representatives. They also hold information about IRCC, as well as information that would have been created by IRCC, such as the reasoning behind actions that are taken by immigration officers.

Brief overview of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request

GCMS notes can be requested under the Access to Information Act through an official process called Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP). This process can be done online or via mail, and a fee of $5.00 CAD is applicable. The standard processing time for ATIP requests is 30 days from submission, but this timeline can be extended for specific reasons.

Given the confidentiality of their content, the GCMS notes can only be made available to applicants and their legal representatives. Further, only Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and individuals or corporations in Canada can request an ATIP, therefore, foreign nationals who are outside Canada can only apply via a legal representative.

Benefits of Requesting GCMS Notes

As GCMS notes serve as an official record of the application’s progress from start to finish, applicants and their legal representatives can refer to them to better understand the issues that immigration officers have identified. In sensitive situations such as refused applications, the notes will allow applicants to directly address the issues that caused the negative outcome, which ultimately helps a lot if the applicant decides to seek a judicial review or launch a new application.

Applicants can also use GCMS notes to track the progress of their pending application. The notes will provide visibility as to where the application stands, any issues that might have arisen, and what steps are still pending.

Further, GCMS notes favour standardization in the application process, as officers working on an application can refer to notes of the other officers. This helps to ensure that decisions within IRCC are consistent and allows applicants to challenge decisions that are deemed unfair or not supported by the act and regulations.


GCMS notes play a crucial role in the lifespan of a Canadian immigration application by ensuring transparency, fairness, and efficiency throughout the process. By accessing these notes, applicants and representatives stay informed about the application’s progress and better understand the reasons for decisions on their applications. It is a very important democratic tool that should be further used by applicants and their legal representatives.

If you are looking for assistance on your immigration application or would like to explore your options in Canada, please reach out to us and we will be happy to assist. To stay tuned on the latest Canadian immigration updates, we recommend following our LinkedIn page.

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