Am I eligible for a refund on my immigration application?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: March 10, 2024

For various reasons, Canadian immigration applicants may decide to pursue a refund on their application.

These reasons could include Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC’s) refusal of an application, the applicant deciding to withdraw from consideration for immigration to Canada, or the applicant overpaying the required amount to IRCC.

IRCC indicates that eligibility for a refund on an application for Canadian immigration is circumstantial.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Note: Refunds can be requested online, and may take up to eight weeks to complete*. However, in cases where IRCC has begun processing an application already, applicants are advised to pursue a refund, if eligible, using IRCC’s webform.

*Applicants who have been waiting longer than eight weeks for their refund are advised to submit a refund request to IRCC.

Refused Application

In all but the following cases, foreign nationals are not eligible for a fee refund when their application is refused. This is because, in most cases, “application fees can’t be refunded once” IRCC begins processing the application.

The exemptions to this rule include:

*Refunds for this fee are only available for workers who are exempt from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Withdrawn Application

Refunds are generally only given to applicants who withdraw their applications if the withdrawal occurs before IRCC begins processing the application.

Similar to refused applications, only the following five types of fees are refunded by IRCC after the department begins processing an individual’s application:

  • The right of permanent residence fee
  • The right of citizenship fee
  • The open work permit fee*
  • The employer compliance fee (refunded to the employer)
  • IEC fees

Application returned by IRCC

When an individual’s application is returned to them by IRCC, they will receive a refund. The three circumstances in which an application will be returned include:

  • If the application is incomplete
  • If the application is received before a program re-opens
  • If the program is full

Fees are paid online but applicant decides not to submit

In some cases, an applicant may decide to pay their application fees online but ultimately decide not to submit their Canadian immigration application. In this case, applicants are eligible for a refund from IRCC.

Click here for more information on how to request a refund.

Overpayment of application fees

Except for when a foreign national applies for an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), refunds are provided to immigration applicants who mistakenly pay too much for their application.

In these cases, IRCC will complete the processing of the individual’s application, confirm the overpaid amount and refund the difference back to the applicant.

Bonus: biometrics fee refund

One common type of Canadian immigration fee, for which many applicants are often unclear of the refund policy, is IRCC biometrics.

Note: Biometrics are the fingerprints and photographs submitted by foreign nationals as part of their Canadian immigration application.

According to IRCC, the core difference between biometrics and other application fees is that “the biometric fee is not considered a processing fee like any other cost recovery fee but is rather a [service fee].” Therefore, “the application cost recovery fee is not refunded” when an applicant has their application refused or “if biometrics are provided and the application is then refused.”

However, in any case where biometrics collection does not occur at all or the collection of biometrics “took place in error*”, IRCC notes that the biometric fee must be refunded.

*According to Canada’s immigration department, circumstances that would constitute biometrics collection by error include instances where an applicant is not required to provide biometric information, or they are exempt from the requirement.

Click here for more information on biometrics fees from the Government of Canada.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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