The Immigration Loans Program (ILP) provides eligible immigrants, who are mainly refugees selected for resettlement to Canada, with access to funding that would otherwise not be available to them. Loans are used to cover a number of expenses, including travel to Canada and other costs associated with resettlement, specifically
- defraying the cost of transportation to Canada (transportation loan)
- assisting with establishment in Canada (assistance loan)
- defraying the cost of the right of permanent residence fee (RPRF) loan
Note: Immigration loans are no longer provided to defray the cost of immigration medical examinations (IMEs). These expenses are now covered under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for eligible applicants.
General procedures for all loans
- Eligibility for an immigration loan
- Determining the need for and assessing the ability to repay an immigration loan
- Signing and approval authority for an immigration loan
- Counselling immigration loan applicants
- Payment and collection of immigration loans
1. Eligibility for an immigration loan
Depending on the purpose, section 289 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) specifies that a loan applicant may be a foreign national applying for permanent residence under any category or a Convention refugee or person in need of protection and their beneficiaries. In addition, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may apply for a loan on behalf of a beneficiary.
Section R288 lists the types of beneficiaries, for example, spouses, partners, dependent children, and other people in a dependent relationship with the loan applicant. Definitions are in listed in section R2.
Although immigrants in other categories (such as the federal skilled worker class and family class) are authorized to apply for loans, they are obliged to have funds at their disposal and thus would not need an immigration loan.
As an exception, a loan may be authorized to these applicants in the following circumstances:
- skilled workers who are also refugees (on a pilot basis)
- family class applicants for whom the Immigration Loans Program (ILP) is the lender of last resort
2. Determining the need for and assessing the ability to repay an immigration loan
Migration officers should consider the factors below when issuing a loan and also take into account the following points:
- IRCC has a commitment to ensure that resettled refugees are able to travel to Canada, which is in line with the humanitarian nature of the Refugee Resettlement Program, and the high historical repayment rate is evidence that the financial costs are manageable in support of this goal.
- If the officer determines that a government-assisted refugee or joint assistance sponsorship (JAS) applicant may be unable to repay the loan, the officer may request to have the costs covered through a contribution.
- If the officer determines that a Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program applicant may have difficulty repaying the loan, the officer should approve the loan, in keeping with the department’s humanitarian commitment, as noted above.
Factors for consideration
- 18 years of age or older
- employment or transferable skills to secure employment within 3 or 4 years
- number of family dependants
- initiative to participate in the labour market
- current debt load (for in-Canada applicants on behalf of family members overseas)
- Verify if the applicant has any other existing immigration loans through the Global Case Management System (GCMS), through the Immigration Program Accounts Receivable (IPAR) system or with Collection Services by telephone or email.
- If the loan applicant already has an existing loan, the designated officer should determine with Collection Services if the applicant’s payment record on the existing loan is in good standing before approving a subsequent loan.
- Where an existing loan is in default, the designated officer should not approve an additional loan until Collection Services has advised that an acceptable repayment schedule has been negotiated with the loan applicant.
- higher resettlement needs where a refugee may require additional support in Canada to become self-sufficient, such as
- physical or mental conditions that require long-term or ongoing treatment
- lower-than-average settlement potential, due to unusual circumstances or health-related issues
- seniors without accompanying or established family in Canada, and who are not likely to be in a position to enter the workforce
Migration officers processing government-assisted refugee and joint assistance sponsorship (JAS) applications destined outside Quebec are encouraged to be proactive in putting forward requests for contribution for refugees with higher resettlement needs. Refer to the procedures on RAP contributions for more information.
Note: The following are not eligible for contribution:
- privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees destined to or residing in Quebec, under the overseas refugees (REF-OVS) category
- any individuals who immigrate to Canada under a different class, such as the dependent refugee or family Class)
- Signing and approval authority for an immigration loan
For the purposes of the Immigration Loans Program (ILP), only people with designated authority can issue loans. See Immigration Legislation (IL) manual chapter 3, Designation of officers and delegation of authority for current authority.
By authorizing a loan agreement, the designated officer certifies the following:
- In accordance with section 34 of the Financial Administration Act, the approved loan is legally chargeable against the account.
- All relevant statutes, regulations, orders-in-council, and Treasury Board and departmental directives have been complied with.
- The loan recipient is of the legal age of majority (18 years or older).
When signed by the loan applicant in the presence of a designated officer, the forms are considered legal documents.
- Counselling immigration loan applicants
When issuing a loan, a designated officer must ensure that the loan applicant is fully aware of and understands the meaning and nature of the loan agreement. The loan applicant’s legal responsibilities and obligations, with respect to the terms and conditions for the repayment of the loan, must be clearly explained.
To avoid any misunderstanding that the loan applicant may have, the designated officer refers to the terms and conditions or the reverse side of the loan agreement, which describes the terms of the loan and payment options and provides other information that the designated officer needs to counsel the loan applicant.
By signing a loan agreement, loan applicants certify all of the following:
- They are of the legal age of majority (18 years or older).
- They understand the terms and conditions associated with the loan agreement.
- They will comply with the stated terms and conditions for loan repayment.
Loans exceeding CAN$ 15,000
In migration offices where the International Organization for Migration (IOM) prepares travel arrangements for refugees selected for resettlement, the total amount of the transportation loan does not exceed CAN$15,000, given that the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) absorbs the additional fees, per the memorandum of understanding (MOU). For all other classes of immigrants, the $15,000 loan maximum does not apply.
5. Payment and collection of immigration loans
A loan recipient is expected to repay the loan in full with consecutive monthly installments and in accordance with the repayment schedule set out in subsection 291(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). Monthly installments are calculated according to the amount borrowed.
Clients must begin repayment after the 12th month from the issuance of the loan, and, depending on the amount borrowed, loans must be repaid as follows, starting after the day the loan becomes payable:
- loans up to but not exceeding $1,200 within 36 months
- loans over $1,200 but not exceeding $2,400 within 48 months
- loans over $2,400 but not exceeding $3,600 within 60 months
- loans over $3,600 but not exceeding $4,800 within 72 months
- loans over $4,800 within 96 months
Notice of payment
IRCC Loans and Accounts Receivable establishes a loan account in the name of the loan recipient, using the unique client identifier (UCI) as the account number.
Depending on the type of loan requested, several months may lapse before a loan account is established. For example, before a loan account is established, IRCC Loans and Accounts Receivable requires the invoice from a transportation company for the transportation costs for the people listed on the loan and a confirmation that the people listed have arrived in Canada.
Payment received at either an immigration office in Canada or at IRCC Loans and Accounts Receivable is recorded as a credit to the account.
IRCC Loans and Accounts Receivable notifies loan recipients about the loan amount and the minimum monthly instalments required. Loan recipients who wish to pay off their loans before the account is established may do so by contacting Collection Services.
Methods of payment
A loan recipient is entitled to make loan payments using any of the following methods of payment:
- personal cheque
- certified cheque
- postal or money order
- credit card
- directly at participating financial institutions
- internet banking through participating financial institutions
Payments must be made in Canadian funds. Cheques must be made payable to the “Receiver General for Canada”.
According to subsection 147(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Minister may authorize the repayment of a loan by means of a payroll deduction scheme.
Deferral of loan payments
Under special circumstances, a collection officer may grant a deferral of loan payments, a variation of payments or an extension of the repayment period. See subsection R292(2) for more information.
For Convention refugees and members of the humanitarian-protected persons abroad class who have resettled in Canada, the deferral of loan payments may be for up to 2 years. For any other eligible person, the deferral of loan payments may be for up to 6 months.
A deferral of loan payments is not automatically provided. A loan recipient who approaches an immigration office in Canada because they are unable to make full, regular loan payments must be immediately referred to Collection Services.
The immediate referral of loan recipients who are requesting a deferral of their loan payments is particularly important for those wishing to sponsor family dependants from abroad. These people need to satisfy the designated officer reviewing the family class sponsorship request that they have not defaulted on their loan payments to demonstrate their ability to support family dependants. Where a deferral of loan payments is being requested, a designated officer must notify Collection Services.
Change of address
A loan recipient must notify Collection Services of any change of address within 10 calendar days. The loan recipient may report a change of address as follows:
- in person or in writing to one of the following:
- immigration authorities in the immigration office in Canada, in the area in which they are residing
- Collection Services
A loan recipient must quote their loan account in all correspondence.
An immigration office in Canada that receives any new information on a loan recipient’s change of address should notify Collection Services.
Recovery of delinquent loans
Section A145 authorizes the recovery of any delinquent payments on loans on behalf of the Government of Canada. For the purposes of the Immigration Loans Program (ILP), the Chief of Collection Services, Finance, National Headquarters (NHQ), has been delegated responsibility for the recovery of delinquent loans.
Death of a loan recipient
In the event of the death of a loan recipient, the designated officer should immediately notify Collection Services.
Where a loan recipient has left Canada
If a designated officer becomes aware that a loan recipient with an outstanding loan balance has left Canada permanently, the officer must send an email to Collection Services and include the client’s biographic data and new address (if known) as well as the immigration loan number or numbers.
Types of loans
- Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) contributions
- Transportation loan procedures for exceptional circumstances