The pieces of the puzzle

A complete application comes in seven PDFs. They are:

  • IMM0008 Signature Page – this is the back page of ‘Generic’

  • IMM0008– this is “Generic’

  • Schedules – these are Schedule A and Schedule 2 combined

  • Supporting Documentation – these are mostly IDs and translations

  • Refugee Photo – see below on how this should look

  • Sponsor Documents – these are the files relating to the sponsors and settlement team\

  • Proof of funds – this shows where the money is stored and how you got it

Each individual PDF can be no larger than 5 megabytes.

And each email to immigration cannot be above 10 megabytes - but even emails of 9 megabytes in size will be rejected automatically, so aim for 8 megs per email maximum.

Your web tools

There are a bunch of free websites that will do all the work you need when it comes to converting, compressing and merging PDFs. Let's put all our cards on the table and share them with you.


In a perfect world, you would send the final application to the applicant to sign when the documents are all good and done. Since that's often hard to pull off, we often ask people to take pictures of their signatures and apply them to the documents ourselves in Photoshop.

Getting the signature: Ask the applicant to sign his or her name on a piece of white paper. If possible, use black marker, since these signatures tend to be hard to read when shrunk down to the small size required by the documents.

Cleaning it up: Once you have that image, you may need Photoshop (cropping, paint bucket to add pure white, changing the contrast and brightness to sharpen the image) to turn an image like this:

Into this

Making it transparent: Now use a basic photo manipulation software like Microsoft Paint (built onto every Windows machine) to resave the image as a PNG. And then using this handy website, convert the PNG to a transparent image. Now it's ready to be added to the document - once you have converted the document to an image. More on that below.

Signature sizes: If you've been keeping the documents at 200 DPI and 8.5 x 11 inches, you'll want the signatures also at 200 DPI. Here is the height of the boxes for some of the main documents. But if you have made the signatures transparent, you can safely go bigger:

  • Generic: 48 pixels high

  • Schedule A: 95 pixels high

  • Schedule 2: 70 pixels high

  • Sponsor assessment: 82 pixels high

Adding the signature

Is the document really done? Have you had a friend - who knows how to write these things - look it over, and maybe even shared it with the experts at the RSTP? Great! Now it's time to get the documents ready for the last step, which is to apply the signatures of the applicants and sponsors.

Now it's time to use this website (also listed above) to flatten the PDF to get it ready for the signature. Insert image, place and size it properly, save the PDF and voila, you now have a signed document, no printing or scanning needed! Except...

Breaking the Generic

Unfortunately, that website above doesn't work for Generic. Rather it turns some of the dropdown items, like "Category under which you are applying" into random numbers.

Here's how to break those stubborn PDFs like the Generic form so you can get them ready for a signature:

  • Unlock the file here: https://freemypdf.com/

  • Open the unlocked file with Acrobat Reader > File > Export To > PostScript

  • Export the file as a PS file File > Export To > PostScript

  • From the side panel (or tools tab) of Acrobat Reader > Create PDF > Select File > Choose PostScript > Create

Getting it ready for the signature

Now that the file has been converted and ready for manipulating, it's time for more fun. The point here is to get a signature on the PDF, without forcing someone to visit an imaginary Kinko's that they can't visit because they're, you know, refugees.

  1. Split the PDF so that the signature page (usually the back page) is separate from the rest

  2. Convert the PDF of the signature page to a JPEG using this nifty program

  3. Open the JPEG in Photoshop and resize the document at 8.5 x 11", 200 DPI

  4. Open the signature which should be transparent at close to the sizes listed above.

  5. Put the signature in the right place

  6. Merge the layers, so the signature is part of the image

  7. Resave the image as a PDF using Adobe

  8. Combine the (now signed) signature page with the rest of the pages using this same nifty program

  9. Compress the (now huge) resulting PDF using this nifty compression program. Choose DPI 200, image quality 50. Or you can try your luck with this one. The key is to make the file small enough to send, but not so compressed they look crappy.

Reminder: No single attachment can be bigger than 5 megs in size, and the entire email cannot exceed 10 megs.

Putting it together

When you've signed, gathered, organized, photoshopped and compressed all your documents, it's time to pull them together into a single PDF. Use this handy PDF combining software to do that.

Once you've combined the documents, open the PDF to make sure it looks okay. One classic mistake you'll notice is that it jumps around as you scroll, from big to small pages and back again. That means you saved one of your documents at varying sizes. If you stick to the same specs (we usually use 8.5 x 11" at 200 DPI), you should avoid this problem.

Reminder: No single attachment can be bigger than 5 megs in size, and the entire email cannot exceed 10 megs.

The final package

Now you need to recombine the documents in the way that immigration likes. You even have to name the files in them strange and specific ways. Namely, "LAST NAME IN CAPS + first name = name of file type. So the result would be:

  • Sponsor forms and documents
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - Sponsor documents"

  • Generic application form to Canada IMM0008
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - IMM0008"

  • If a separate signature page is included where the PA printed and signed only the signature page of the IMM0008 form. Note that this isn't really needed.
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First name - IMM0008 signature page"

  • Schedule A, Schedule 2 and Use of Representative forms
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - Schedules"

  • One photo per applicant
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - Photos"

  • Passports: if available for the PA, family members and sponsors providing proof of status with a copy of passport
    Name this file:
    "LAST NAME, First Name – Passports"

  • Refugee Status Determination (RSD) document for the PA
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First name – RSD"

  • Supporting documentation:
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - Supporting documents"

    for the PA include if there are any identity and civil status, birth, marriage, divorce, separation or death certificates (etc.)
    - for the sponsor include if there are any additional supporting document to demonstrate their capacity

  • Proof of Funds:
    Name this file:
    "FAMILY NAME, First Name - Proof of Funds"

Remember, no single attachment can be above 6 megs in size.

Sending it

Once the package is done and done, it's ready to send! If you're writing up an email, here's one way to write it:

Make sure your emails don't exceed the 10 (actually 8) megabyte limit.

Are you ready? Hold your breath. Finger shaking. Send to...


If you're mailing it, here's where the Community Sponsor applications go:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O)

Community Sponsor Unit

365 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

Same address for the other types of sponsorships, just swap out the bold line for this:

Sponsorship Agreement Holder Unit

Or this:

Group of Five Unit

What's next?

The first thing you'll get is an automatic response indicating that your file has been received. That should come quickly.

As for the next steps, they are fodder for another post. Let's just say this much now:

G number - these take anywhere from a day to a year to arrive. They're a tracking number that allows you to check the progress of your application.

Bonus tip: Remember to select 'Application number/case number' in the dropdown menu, and have the applicants' date and country of birth handy as well.

You can overuse this website - some people drive themselves crazy by checking their online status daily. No need! All the important updates will be sent by Immigration via email - both to the refugee and their sponsors.

Milestones you can expect to find in this tracking website:

  1. We received your application for permanent residence on x date.

  2. We started processing your application on x date.

  3. Your application has been sent to the overseas embassy.

  4. Medical results have been received.

  5. Decision made

Check here for more details on typical timelines.

For now, let's just take a break, and appreciate all the hard work we've done this far.

We've come a long way!