Expedited procedure to obtain FBI clearances for Canadian Permanent Residency applications



Applicants for Canadian permanent residency with significant previous travel to the United States of America receive some respite from the Department of Justice. In this context, significant travel represents 180 consecutive days of physical presence in the past ten years, from the date of application. More specifically, those applicants must provide a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Identity History Summary Check (the “certificate”), to ensure submission of a complete application.

While Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provide 90 days, following the issuance of an Invitation To Apply (ITA), to obtain applicable documents, this certificate is cumbersome for most. The difficulty stems from the proper timing of receiving the certificate, taking into account that the FBI posts on their website processing times between 14-16 weeks. As such, applicants must apply for the certificate immediately following the issuance of the ITA. Even if they did so, the certificate is unlikely to have arrived within the prescribed 90 days.

The current workaround to this predicament is to submit proof (such as a copy of the request and courier delivery information) at the time of application. IRCC would then do its initial check, and issue a further document request letter for the certificate. Should an applicant apply for the certificate, but omit to include the proof, the whole application would be returned as incomplete. The frustration this causes would be permanent residents can be tremendous, with no mechanism available apart from reapplying starting with the creation of a new Express Entry profile.

As of March 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice has introduced a new electronic application method, using its electronic Departmental Order (eDO) system. The eDO is available for both new applications and for those that have already submitted a request by mail. In both circumstances, applicants will continue to be required to submit fingerprint cards. A courier or mailing tracking number is mandatory. A new fee is required. However, the original fee paid eligible for a refund, although the timeframe for is not clear. The most significant benefit to this new electronic method is the expeditious processing timeframe, results arriving within 3-5 business days. The certificate is sent electronically by e-mail, in PDF format. An original hard copy can be mailed if requested, generally arriving 7-14 days after the electronic version.

Application documents requested in the Express Entry personalized checklist are transmitted electronically, police certificates being no exception. The PDF format is accepted by IRCC as one of only a handful of acceptable document formats. This new application method represents welcomed, but long overdue, news for Canadian permanent residency applicants. Previously, only US citizens and permanent residents were able to obtain FBI certificates in such short time frames, and even then only if they had applied through an approved third party channeler. 

Contact us

Dale & Lessmann LLP invites you to contact our experienced Immigration Practice Group for assistance in answering questions about the contents of this post, or if you require assistance in obtaining an FBI clearance using the new eDO method.