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NEW Thread for ACCRA Visa Office - Spousal Sponsorship Stream

Discussion in 'Visa Offices in Africa' started by maki22, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. #1 maki22, Jul 29, 2018 at 3:12 PM
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
    Welcome to the 2017 and 2018 new Accra Visa Office Spousal Sponsorship Discussion Group.

    Our aim is to share information and provide guidance among applicants and sponsors, with absolute inclusivity and maximum support, where differing opinions are welcomed and encouraged. There will not be any negative consquences for posting different opinions on this forum. However, we ask that discussions maintain a modicum of civility and remind posters that any disparaging posts will be flagged and brought to the attention of the webmaster.

    Please feel free to contribute as little or as much as you like and/or utilize any information posted here that will make this long trying process easier to survive for all. However, for complicated issues relating to your file or when deciding on next steps it may be best to consult with a professional, rather than just following the suggestions made on this forum or taking them at face value, as keep in mind each application is different and each couple's circumstances are different.

    Note that we do not and will not have a private WhatsApp chat group because it won't be useful for members who are not part of such group as they won't be privy to the useful information that is posted here. We want to make sure our discussions and information are readily and publically available.

    Welcome and good luck to everyone!
     
    Gloria86, Jacyclassy and Forte like this.
  2. #2 maki22, Jul 29, 2018 at 3:25 PM
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
    Summary of basic information about the typical process of spousal sponsorship applications at Accra Visa Office:

    The process takes approximately 10 to 15+ months and differs from timelines of other visa offices around the world.

    Acknowledgment of Receipt - Date the application was received by IRCC in Mississauga, Ontario (and for 2018 applicants, Sydney, Nova Scotia); the 12 month processing countdown starts from this date. After file is received by IRCC it is reviewed. If there are errors it is returned to applicants. This process takes 3 months and adds to the wait time. If there are no errors, the file is eventually transferred to the Accra Visa Office (2 or 3 months after AOR) however the forwarding date is sometimes not provided to applicants and other times it is. If it is they will send correspondence confirming the file was transferred and date it was transferred.

    Processing Time - The 12 month processing deadline for 80 per cent of the files, as per the new mandate, does not include the extra month or two months to get the passport/visa back from AVO. Therefore do not make any travel plans until you have your passport/visa in hand. 20% of files will surpass the 12 month processing time due to level of complexity.

    Sponsor Approval - This will take place within the period that the file is with IRCC in Canada before transferred to AVO. Once sponsor approval is granted, file is then transferred to AVO. A letter is sent to applicant advising whether sponsor has been approved.

    Police Certificate Request (Criminal Record Check/Criminality Eligibility) and Schedule A – Background/Declaration form IMM 5669 - For 2018 applicants, the criminal record check and Schedule "A" have to be submitted upfront with the application. Note that criminal record checks usually are valid 3 or 6 months, or whatever date of expiry is noted on them, and they are not valid for a year. AVO may request a new police certificate when sending a passport request to applicant at resolution of file.

    Medical Request (Medical Eligibility) - Medical request is received usually exactly 5 months after application is filed and acknowledged, therefore, medical request is received 5 months of the date of AOR. When the medicals are passed and completed it usually appears as line 4 on the ECAS stating "medicals received", considered passed, usually a week after the medicals are done at a designated medical centre. Note that medicals can only be done at a designated medical facility. Medicals also cannot be done upfront with the application. Applicants have to wait to get the request from AVO. It also shows up as "medicals passed" on GCKey. If medicals are failed IRCC will notify of next steps. Medicals are valid for 12 months from the date the IRCC receives them and usually do not have to be re-done as the process of finalizing decisions on spousal sponsorship appplications is done before the medicals expire, however in some circumstances, AVO may ask for the medicals to be redone, but that is at their discretion, based on the circumstances of the file. In 2018, the rules for the medical eligibility have been amended to be more understanding and inclusive of applicants' medical challenges.

    Additional Document Request - Not everyone will get an ADR request from the AVO. They are usually sent to applicants for them to provide more information regarding the genuineness of their marriage but there could be other miscellaneous reasons as well. These requests can be sent by AVO at any time during the process and applicants are usually given 15 to 30 days (including weekends) to submit the requested documents to AVO, either by uploading them on GCKey or providing them directly to AVO via delivery means (VFS, etc.) ADR requests are customized to each person's file, and circumstances, so read the letters received word by word, as instructions may and often will differ from each person as each case is different.

    Interview - These are at the discretion of AVO and may or may not be required, again, depending on the circumstances of each person's case.

    Passport Request - Passport requests from AVO could be received as early as 2 or 3 months after medicals are completed, or 7 or 8 months from AOR date, however, that is rare. Most passport requests are received 10 months onwards, from date of AOR. Many are received at the 12 month mark and some after the 12 month mark. Sometimes a "pre-arrival" email will be received from AVO setting out services available to PR applicants in Canada when they relocate. The pre-arrival email is followed by the official passport request. The timeline as to how fast the passport request follows varies, from 3 days onwards. This email signals to the applicants that they will receive a passport request. Sometimes however AVO will not send a pre-arrival email, just a passport request or they may send both at the same time, or just send a passport request. Again, it differs for each person's file. Upon receiving a passport request, which also differs for each case, as to what they are requiring from applicants, usually the passport, 2 passport size photos, an updated family information form where you must advise them of any change in your marital status or family composition. All family members must be listed on your Form IMM008 and Additional Family Information forms. Failure to comply may result in a delay in the issuance of your visa. Also, a new criminal record check, medical check and other information may be required however in some cases they will not be requested. Regarding the criminal record check - please keep in mind that the criminal record certificates are only valid either 3 or 6 months, or whatever expiry date is noted on the actual certificates, they are not valid for a year. It is at discretion of AVO to either request a new police certificate with the passport request or not. Regarding the medical check - please keep in mind the medical results are valid for 1 year, however, AVO may request an updated medical check if warranted.

    Signs of Update on Files

    Note: There are two online portals applicants can follow. ECAS and GCKey. Note however that some applicants cannot access their files online for technical reasons, so not every applicant is privy to this information. The GCKey is where all the letters and communications from AVO will be sent and where you can upload documents. ECAS is where major milestones in the file are recorded. Note that neither of these portals show real-time updates. You cannot see when someone is working on your file. Sometimes these portals are updated at the conclusion or close to the ending of the files. The GCKey account will show updates to the file however often updates are not made in a timely manner. The ECAS page is also often not updated sometimes until after the file is resolved but usually shows significant milestones on the file. An applicant can inquire about their file after 12 months have passed using the IRCC Webform. The Webform is also used to update IRCC with any change to applicant's status and information that needs to be provided. The Webform is also used to upload documents.

    GCMS Notes - If you want to track progress of your file more closely you have to order GCMS notes on a regular basis, i.e. monthly. These are internal notes provided by a central IRCC repository. When you order them it takes a month to get them and they are always dated as to the date you ordered them not when you received them. There is a thread on this website that deals with steps on how to order the notes.

    Pick up Mail - Note: After applicants submit passports and other documents to AVO, they will receive a Pick Up Mail Notification. Note: As of May 1, 2018, all passports and information requests via passport request from the AVO, must be submitted at a local VFS Centre and passports/visas are to be picked up from the VFS centre. The final step goes through them and no courier service can be used to submit these documents to the AVO. A person can use DHL or other courier service to deliver documents from their home to the VFS Centre, and have such courier return their passport/visas from the VFS Centre to their home. The timeline for receiving passports and visas back varies significantly. Since the VFS Centre submissions/delivery requirement was implemented, the average is about 3 weeks, however, each file is different, and there are different circumstances as to why someone waits 3 weeks or more or 3 weeks or less to get the passports/visas back. Therefore, no travel plans should be made until the passports/visas are in your hands.

    NEW - Biometrics - As of July 31, 2018, IRCC has implemented a new Biometrics requirement where new applicants who applied on or after July 31 will now have to attend a VFS Centre, by appointment, and provide their biometrics, a digital collection of a person's photograph and fingerprints. This new procedure is to enhance security measures, along with providing the necessary medical and police clearance certificates earlier in the process.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The above is a summary of the process for spousal sponsorship applications that are vetted through the Accra Visa Office. Of course, steps and timelines will vary for each file, because each person's file is different from the next, however, it shows a basic overview of how the entire process flows and is always subject to various updates, and changes from IRCC.

    We will occasionally update the herein information to add changes or delete old processes and links, in order to provide an up to date source of valuable information.

    Thank you for taking the time to view our new thread and we hope that we hear from many of you!
     
  3. #3 maki22, Jul 29, 2018 at 5:32 PM
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
    IMPORTANT LINKS:

    Sponsoring your spouse, partner or dependent child:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/family-sponsorship/spouse-partner-children.html

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/spouse.asp

    Notice - Updated Spousal Sponsorship Application Kit - February 14, 2018

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/application-kit-spousal-sponsorship.html

    Notice - Operational Bulletin - February 14, 2018

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/bulletins-2016/633-december-15-2016.html

    Acknowledgment of Receipt:

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=028&top=4

    Processing Times:

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/

    Sponsor Approval:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/family-sponsorship/spouse-partner-children/eligibility.html

    Police Certificate and Criminal Record Check:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/medical-police/police-certificates/about.html

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/medical-police/police-certificates/how.html

    Schedule A – Background/Declaration form IMM 5669:

    https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/ircc/migration/ircc/english/pdf/kits/forms/imm5669e.pdf

    Medical Request:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/medical-police/medical-exams/requirements-permanent-residents.html

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx?_ga=2.168329124.489201427.1532898045-890091159.1526266976

    Notice re Medical Admissibility dated April 16, 2018

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2018/04/government-of-canada-brings-medical-inadmissibility-policyin-line-with-inclusivity-for-persons-with-disabilities.html

    Additional Document Request - Submitting Documents Online:

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=1310&top=23

    GCKey Access:

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=794&top=23

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/account.html

    ECAS Access:

    https://services3.cic.gc.ca/ecas/security.do

    Webform Access:

    https://secure.cic.gc.ca/enquiries-renseignements/canada-case-cas-eng.aspx

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/contacts/web-form.asp

    GCMS Notes:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/transparency/access-information-privacy/requests-information-act.html

    https://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/threads/how-to-order-gcms-notes-step-by-step-process.513893/

    Biometrics:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/biometrics/facts.html?_ga=2.134110091.489201427.1532898045-890091159.1526266976

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/results-by-topic.asp?top=19

    Passport Submission Centres:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/contact-ircc/offices/find-visa-application-centre.html

    VFS Nigeria - https://www.vfsglobal.ca/canada/nigeria/

    VFS Ghana - https://www.vfsglobal.ca/canada/ghana/index.html

    Eligibility, Security, Criminality and Medical Checks - Explanation of Processes via GCMS Notes:

    https://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/threads/gcms-notes-well-explained-has-never-before-until-now.390292/
     
  4. #4 maki22, Jul 29, 2018 at 7:31 PM
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
    Useful Information to Consider:

    IRCC Forms

    Make sure you are using correct updated forms as they get updated frequently. Sometimes you are asked by AVO to provide a specific form to be updated with your new information or changes. Sometimes you will have to submit an updated form on your own. To check the date of the form look at bottom left hand corner of the form and find a date stamp with year and month. This will tell you what version of the form you have accessed. To avoid this issue or downloading by mistake an old form just go through the IRCC forms portal where you will be able to download updated forms: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/application-forms-guides.html


    Sometimes the forms won't open correctly or download properly. Change the browser you are using, try Internet Explorer, and see if it works. Make sure you have the up to date PDF viewer installed, like Acrobat Reader.

    Passport Photos


    When providing passport photos with your passport to AVO make sure that you are following the IRCC specifications such as size and also text that has to be written on back of the photos. It is best to utilize photography studios that are able to provide you with correct photos. In Ghana, in Accra, Flash Photos is a studio that all embassies send clients to. For up to date specifications, refer to this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/canadian-passports/photos.html

    VFS Centre Requirements

    When submitting passport and other documents to VFS Centres you must print and sign a Consent form specific to the centre. There are also other items to provide them such as copies of your biodata page and additional services can be obtained such as SMS notification. To track your passport after it was submitted to VFS, they will provide an online link with your receipt you will receive after submitting your passport and documents.

    To track status of your passport and visa to be returned to you in Ghana go to: https://www.vfsvisaonline.com/Global-Passporttracking/Track/Index?q=shSA0YnE4pLF9Xzwon/x/CQ1P0LBKn66dLdNUfueK+yJQGNnLJ+bOxu60olPa6/JSZRplPdZgYKWVVsqXzW23g==

    To track status of your passport and visa to be returned to you in Nigeria go to:
    https://www.vfsglobal.ca/canada/nigeria/track_your_application.html

    It is advisable to call the centres to inquire what you need to bring when submitting passport and other documents, however, VFS Centres usually require the following information to be provided: the passport request letter you receive from AVO, your passport, updated family information forms, any applicable VFS centre fees, your detailed contact information, the VFS Centre consent form, 2 copies of biodata page, eye and height form, etc. Make sure you read word for word the passport request form from IRCC as each person's request will be worded differently. What is asked of one applicant is not asked of another applicant, etc.

    Contacting Accra Visa Office:

    The AVO can be contacted by either sending a request via WebForm or by email to a specific email address for immigration matters.

    To properly contact the AVO, please consult the IRCC link below as to how to proceed:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/contact-ircc/offices/international-visa-offices/accra.html

    NEW PROCEDURE FOR NEW APPLICATIONS - PROCESSING CENTRE FOR SPOUSAL SPONSORSHIP APPLICATIONS (OUTLAND) LOCATED IN SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA

    As of June, 2018, please mail or courier spousal sponsorship applications for outland sponsorship to the processing centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/contact-ircc/offices/case-processing-centre-sydney-nova-scotia.html

    Family class
    • Mailing address for applications to sponsor spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners and dependent children (currently living outside Canada), other relatives and adopted children:
      CPC Sydney
      PO Box 9500
      Sydney NS
      B1P 0H5
    • Courier address for applications to sponsor spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners and dependent children (currently living outside Canada), adopted children and other relatives:
      CPC-Sydney
      49 Dorchester Street
      Sydney, NS
      B1P 5Z2
     
  5. Great job! But why isnt it in the spousal sponsorship section of the forum? People usually go there first.
     
    maki22 likes this.
  6. #6 maki22, Jul 29, 2018 at 8:58 PM
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    Hello,

    We felt it was also the right place to put it as it deals with a visa office in Africa, specifically, the Accra Visa Office. We placed the immigration stream in the title so as to discern it from other categories.

    We did not want it to be confused with the previous AVO SS thread.

    We trust that is satisfactory.

    Thank you.
     
    Forte likes this.
  7. That makes sense.
     
    maki22 likes this.
  8. Hello,

    My spouse and I will be applying for a sponsorship visa. My spouse is from Ghana however we both reside in the U.A.E. Will the application be processed at the Accra office, because he holds a passport from Ghana or will it be processed in his country of residence (United Arab Emirates)?
     
    maki22 likes this.
  9. Good job!
    Creating WhatsApp group for 2017 and 2018 AVO will nice too
     
    maki22 likes this.
  10. #10 maki22, Jul 30, 2018 at 8:58 AM
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    Hello,

    We haven't seen this question too often, however, we believe that the Visa Office that will handle your husband's file eventually would be Accra, not Abu Dhabi because he is a citizen of Ghana. In certain circumstances, however, the Canadian Immigration Visa Office processing your file may decide on its own to transfer your file to a different, more appropriate Canadian Immigration Visa Office, and because of that, it is hard to say definitively at this point. Therefore, you most likely find out the exact location where your file will be transferred once you receive a letter from the NS Processing Centre 2 or 3 months after you receive the Acknowledgment of Receipt from them.

    However, if he has resided more than 6 months in UAE, or any other country other than Ghana, then he would need to provide police certificates from both countries at the commencement of the application, and from any other country other than Ghana where he has resided over than 6 months, and possibly once again at the end of the process with the passport submission. He can of course get the medical examination done at a designated medical facility in UAE: http://www.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx. He will also have to provide biometrics to the VFS Centre in UAE, as that is closest to where he resides: https://www.vfsglobal.ca/canada/uae/

    We hope this helps a little bit.

    Thank you.
     
    Msw89 likes this.
  11. #11 maki22, Jul 30, 2018 at 8:59 AM
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    Hello,

    Thank you for your post. There already is a WhatsApp group for 2017/2018 applicants, however, because of certain issues encountered with posting information in the said group, we have decided that it would not be prudent for the public in general to have an exclusive group such as said group, where not everyone has had a chance to participate freely or be privy to the information exchanged. Of course, you are more than welcome to be a part of the said WhatsApp group if you like, however, we are encouraging members on this said forum to post on the thread openly and publicly so that we can help as many people as possible.

    We trust that is satisfactory.

    Thank you.
     
    Jacyclassy likes this.
  12. Thank you so much for this thread!
    Please, we submitted our application to Mississauga, 3000 as indicated on the checklist, 11th of July. We haven't received AOR yet. No message. What is next?
     
    maki22 likes this.
  13. #13 maki22, Jul 30, 2018 at 12:27 PM
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    Hello,

    You are welcome.

    AOR takes a bit of time to receive, up to 60 days (however most likely you will receive before that time). Recently many people had been receiving AOR in 30 days but it varies from each person's case. You need to wait to hear from them. This is what IRCC will do upon receipt of your application: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=022&top=4

    In short, they will:
    • review your application to make sure it’s complete
    • decide if you as sponsor are eligible to sponsor
    • decide if your sponsored spouse is eligible to apply to become a permanent resident of Canada
    • tell you when they start processing your application,
    • tell you how to get a medical exam
    • do a security screening, to make sure all applicants do not pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians
    • decide if your spouse would need to go to an interview
    • tell you of the decision they make on your application
    After AOR, and confirmation your application is complete, the next step is usually getting your Sponsor Approval letter, then a letter of transfer to the Accra Visa Office, then a medical request after 5 months from the date of AOR, and after that a decision from 10 to 15+ months from the date of AOR (with a few steps in between depending on your case such as a possible interview, request for additional documents, etc.) The entire process should last around 10 to 15+ months depending on the circumstances of the file. Remember no two files/cases are the same, so there are no definitive timelines, or steps that every applicant can follow or rely on. These are just considered basic guidelines and the basic flow of the process as the file makes its way through IRCC from beginning to end.

    Regarding the processing centre you sent your application to, IRCC apparently had given a grace period to people who sent their applications to Mississauga instead of Sydney as the change of processing centres took place in June, and you sent yours in July. However, if you had printed out the most up-to-date kit, whatever processing centre was noted on that particular Document Checklist would have been the place you were supposed to send it to. Note: We have consulted with other members of different spousal sponsorship forums that have recently applied to IRCC. They advised that the Document Checklist was indeed updated in June with the new mailing address. For persons who mistakenly sent their applications to Mississauga, apparently, IRCC has been redirecting the applications to Sydney, instead of sending them back, which would only add on a few days to receiving the AOR notification.

    We trust this is of some assistance to you.
     
    Amoana1 likes this.
  14. Very very useful info. Thank you a million
     
    maki22 likes this.
  15. You are very welcome!
     

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