WRITING THE APPLICATION
The pieces of the puzzle
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.
https://www.ilovepdf.com/ - has all PDF tools
https://tools.pdf24.org/en/split-pdf - PDF splitter
https://pdftoimage.com/ - PDF to JPEG
https://freemypdf.com/- unlocks PDFs
https://tools.pdf24.org/en/merge-pdf - merges PDFs
https://combinepdf.com/ - also merges PDFs
https://shrinkpdf.com/ - compresses PDFs
https://compressjpeg.com/ - compresses JPEGs
https://pdfcompressor.com/ - compresses PDFs
https://www.ilovepdf.com/compress_pdf –also compresses PDFs - unlimited uses
https://smallpdf.com/compress-pdf - pretty good compression, only 2 uses
https://www.freepdfconvert.com/compress-pdf - extra compression, if the other website didn't compress enough
https://onlinepngtools.com/create-transparent-png - makes PNGs transparent - use for signatures
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:
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
Breaking the PDF
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.
The first thing to know is that these immigration PDFs are built to resist manipulation. Which means you have to outsmart them, if your refugee doesn't have the luxury of a printer and scanner. How to do that? One way is to print the documents at home. But there's a better way. Here's how to break those stubborn PDFs 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.
Split the PDF so that the signature page (usually the back page) is separate from the rest
Convert the PDF of the signature page to a JPEG using this nifty program
Open the JPEG in Photoshop and resize the document at 8.5 x 11", 200 DPI
Open the signature which should be transparent at close to the sizes listed above.
Put the signature in the right place
Merge the layers, so the signature is part of the image
Resave the image as a PDF using Adobe
Combine the (now signed) signature page with the rest of the pages using this same nifty program
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
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.
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, "PA" + LAST NAME IN CAPS + first name = name of file type. So the result would be:
PA SMITH, John - IMM0008 Signature Page.pdf
PA SMITH, John - IMM0008.pdf
PA SMITH, John - Schedules.pdf
PA SMITH, John - Supporting Documentation.pdf
PA SMITH, John - Refugee Photo.pdf
PA SMITH, John - Sponsor Documents.pdf
PA SMITH, John - Proof of funds.pdf
Remember, no single attachment can be above 6 megs in size.
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:
Note that the whole weird "PA LAST NAME, First Name" convention is still in effect - in the subject line and in the email itself. 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
Group of Five Unit
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:
We received your application for permanent residence on x date.
We started processing your application on x date.
Your application has been sent to the overseas embassy.
Medical results have been received.
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!