The One Year Window Program for Family Members

The One Year Window (OYW) Program allows for the reunification of family members for those who entered Canada as settlement refugees under the government assisted stream or the privately sponsored refugee stream. It applies to all parts of Canada except for Quebec who has its own system.

The permanent resident in Canada who came as a settlement refugee must submit the One Year Window (OYW) application package for their family members within the first year that they arrive in Canada. If for some reason the application is submitted after one year, it will be refused and the permanent resident must then apply to bring their family members under sponsorship applications. The family members who are brought to Canada under OYW are not considered to be refugees themselves, but they get their permanent resident status because they have a relationship with a permanent resident in Canada who was found to be a refugee.

It is very important that the family members listed in the OYW application MUST have either been included in the application of the permanent resident now in Canada (likely as non-accompanying dependents) or their information has been provided to IRCC officials prior to the permanent resident coming to Canada. If there is no mention about family members by the now-permanent resident in Canada, those family members cannot use the OYW provision.

For example, declaring at an airport in Canada that you have a wife overseas is not acceptable. Your wife will not be able to come to Canada under the OYW. You would need to sponsor your wife under the family class sponsorship application. The problem then is that with a sponsorship application you must show you have the financial ability to look after your wife and you cannot be on social assistance. However you can be on social assistance and bring your wife to Canada if you use the OYW program.  There are no filing fees for the OYW program, but there are filing fees for a sponsorship application.

Your family member cannot be inadmissible – for example, have a criminal record or a serious medical condition or be considered as a security concern.

If you are bringing a spouse, you must have been legally married to the spouse or have lived together for one year prior to you as the settlement refugee having come to Canada. Children of the settlement refugee (now a PR) must meet the definition of “dependent child”. That means under 22 years of age at the time the application is received by the OYW program and the child cannot be married or in a common law relationship. De facto dependents are not eligible under the OYW program, such as a cousin’s child who has lived with you for a number of years.

Once the OYW office in Canada finds the application to be complete, it will send the application to the overseas office of IRCC closest to where the family members reside. The overseas office reviews the identity documents and proof of relationship. It determines if an interview is required and it gives the final decision on eligibility. The overseas office can also request medical examinations.

If all is well, the application is finalized by the overseas office of IRCC. It can ask for help from the International Organization for Migration or the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to arrange for transportation. It helps the family members travel to Canada either on their own passports or with a single journey travel document. On occasion, some countries also request exit permits. Then the family members travel to Canada and enter as permanent residents.

This is legal information and not legal advice. If you need further information or need legal advice, please call our Intake Line at 416-441-1764 ext. 1 or complete our online Intake Form.