What is the CIC and what do they do?

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is responsible for immigration, settlement, resettlement, citizenship and multiculturalism programs and services. They’re the folks who issue visitors' visas, select immigrants and grant citizenship. CIC makes more than two million decisions a year – about 7,000 a day – about who can come to live, visit, work or to study in Canada. Since 1991, the province of Quebec has administered its own immigration program and the rules and criteria for immigrating there differ from the rest of the country.

CIC processes refugee claims made at CIC offices in Canada. Claims made at a port of entry (airport, marine port, or border crossing) are handled by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Eligible refugee claimants are referred to the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) for a decision. All others are turned away or deported back to their country of origin.

The rules (mandate) that CIC follows were defined by:

  • Canadian Citizenship Act (1977)
  • Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)(2002)
  • Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988)
  • International law, such as UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951)
  • Section 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
    • CIC has more than 50 visa offices around the world and 60 Visa Application Centres (VACs) in 41 countries. Most VACs are private companies and independent international organizations contracted by the Government of Canada to assist in the submission of visa applications, by providing specific administrative services to visa applicants. The Government of Canada stresses that CIC is solely responsible for all processing of applications and making of decisions. The VACs play no role in the decision making and are explicitly forbidden from providing any visa related advice.

      What CIC’s key partners do

      The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is an independent tribunal responsible for decisions on immigration and refugee matters. The IRB also decides which asylum claimants need refugee protection.

      Canada relies on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to refer refugees from abroad to be resettled in Canada.

      The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for carrying out enforcement in immigration and refugee matters. These include detention, removals, investigations and intelligence.

      Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) works closely with CIC to manage Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program. HRSDC deals with employers, while CIC deals with workers and the processing of work permits.

      The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is responsible for student exchanges and repatriation of Canadian citizens in emergency situations abroad.

      The Citizenship and Immigration Canada Help Page is a good place to start looking for answers to questions about the immigration or citizenship processes that are not provided here. The topics A-Z index will help you find answers to such common inquiries as how to renew your Permanent Resident Card and how to sponsor family members for immigration to Canada.

      This story is from the "CIC: Know the Rules, Take the Lead" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.