Submitting the application: the online portal

As of January 2024, you have to submit your application through an online portal. Each of the sponsors has to create a profile on that portal, and the 'main sponsor' (you choose who that is) has to log in and start the application, and then invite the other sponsors to the file. Once they receive the invitation, they have to create their own profiles, though with lesser access to the entire application and to the other sponsors' accounts.

Here's an explanation on how the new online portal works: 

Step 1: The primary sponsor logs in

One member of the group of 5 has to be the 'primary sponsor' on the portal. This should be someone with good attention to detail and who can use computers, since there's a LOT of information and files to go into the portal. Once you've chosen that person, they should log in here and create a profile:

They will ask for an email address and password. Definitely save this somewhere, so you can access the application now and in the future.

The first thing you'll see is this screen. DANGER DANGER - if you make a mistake here, you can never correct it. 

So make sure you're typing in the PRIMARY SPONSOR'S name, and not the refugee's name. And make sure you get the family name and given name in the right order. And your names should be the same as on your PR card or passport, or whatever ID you're using in the application. The screen looks like this:

Step 2: Fill out the rest of the application

Next you'll find the application in the following stages:

1. PA Profile

Create the Principal Applicant's Profile

2. Group Members Tab

This is where you add in the 3 main docs for the primary sponsor, and then add the other sponsors who are part of the group of five. 

Group of 5 members

For each group member, you need to type in their correct legal name and their email address - twice.. Be careful with getting the email right. Each sponsor will then get a message from Immigration, stating they have been invited to be part of the private sponsorship application. This email takes the place of the old forms that each sponsor used to have to sign to indicate their participation in the application. 

Aside from receiving this email, the sponsors don't actually have to do anything. The principal sponsor can do it all for them, assuming all the necessary documents are ready and available.

These are the forms needed for both the primary sponsor and the 4 others:

Invite principal applicant - Will the Principal Applicant be able to sign their application digitally in the portal?

It's better to choose "no" to this option if the person you're sponsoring is not so technically savvy.  If you do choose "no", then you need to do a 'consent and declaration' form in the next section, "Declaration". (Scroll down for that part). 

If you do choose "yes" to indicate that the refugee is able to provide a digital signature, get ready to do some work to help them sign the forms, since it's not easy and takes a computer that can open and handle PDFs.   Use this website to make the signatures transparent to place on the PDF.

Invite a representative for the principal applicant

You can also add a representative here, by typing in that person's name and email.  But note that immigration doesn't take that kind of representative as seriously as one that has a Use of Representative form and passport loaded into the system, so you should add those to the 'extra documents' section of the refugee docs. Scroll down for that.

What's a representative, as defined in this part of the portal? This person can view the application, once invited, and later on, make enquiries with immigration if needed.  The other advantage of assigning a representative is it means the refugee doesn't need to go onto the portal, which might be a technical challenge. 

Once invited to be representative on the online portal, this person can see and update any part of the application - except the sponsor docs, which can only be seen by the sponsors themselves and by the primary sponsor.

3. Application

Digital Forms for Group of Five (G5)

For the sake of getting your facts down right, you might want to fill out the generic PDF first. This also allows you to have a keepable copy of what you put into the portal, since that information is not viewable once you hit 'submit'. 

Also note there's a glitch in the portal where the 'dependents' section might show as incomplete, even when it's complete. You may need to go through a few times and resave all the paes to get it to show as 'ready to submit'.

As with IMM0008, it may be smarter to fill out the old Schedule A PDF first, so you can work out the details, and also because you'll need this in about 1.5 years, when the refugee is asked to submit and resubmit documents prior or in place of an embassy interview. Another good reason to start with the Schedule A PDF is it will remind you to enter all the dates in reverse chronological order, with the latest thing coming first, rather than last, which is what the portal wants, as you'll see in the 'addresses' section.

PDF Forms for Group of Five (G5) (required)

Additional Application Forms

If you choose the menu box, and scroll down, you'll get an option for...

Supporting Documents for Group of Five (G5) (required)

Another thing to remember: the ID files (passport, national ID) should be flat, clear scans, in colour, cropped to edge. You can check this Google doc for more information on the formatting of these files or just open the checklist below.

Additional Supporting Documents

Again, you have to scroll down the menu bar to get the choices you need, but typically these are three we choose and use:

Declaration (required)

Online G5 Refugee Application - Steps-Rebecca Lippiatt.pdf

Step 3: Review and submit

Once you've completed all the steps, and the system tells you they are complete, go over the entire application one more time. You may find you messed something up.

Really done? Take a deep breath and hit "submit". 

After this, your fellow sponsors should receive an automatic response indicating that your file has been received.

Step 4: What's next?

If you made a mistake or want to correct a form, there's an immigration website where you can do that. The website also lets you check the status of a file. There's also a phone number where you can make enquiries: 613-321-4243. But try not to abuse it with questions you can find through an online search.

As for the next steps in the process, that is 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:

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!