Time zone for immigration applications
Raheela, an RCIC, applied on behalf of a client on Nov 13th. However, to her surprise, the Acknowledgment of Receipt letter shows Nov 14th as the submission date of the application. Raheela wonders how come the registered submission date is different. Is it because of a particular time zone IRCC uses for immigration applications?
Table of contents
Understanding Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
Unlike the Flat Earthers’ beliefs, the earth is round. Consequently, when one side of the planet is the day, the other is the night. Each area of the world has its time zone to reflect the time differences. For example, when the time in Toronto is 2 pm, it is 11 am in Vancouver. We calculate time zones based on the meridian that passes through Greenwich village in the United Kingdom. Consequently, up until 1972, countries calculated their time zones based on the Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. While the base for the time zones remains the same, we now call it UTC, which could stand for both Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated.
IRCC uses UTC
To avoid confusion, IRCC does not use local time zones for online applications. They instead use UTC for this purpose. Let’s say you are in a time zone that is UTC-5. When your time is 5 pm, UTC is 10 pm (i.e., your local time plus five). Furthermore, when your time is 8 pm, UTC is 1 am the next day. In this situation, you must apply before 7 pm to ensure the submission day is the same day you are observing locally.
The submission times, based on the time zone
If you want to see the exact date on the AOR letter as the date you submitted the application, use the following table.
|Local Time||Submit before||Submit after|
|UTC-12||12 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-11||1 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-10||2 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-9||3 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-8||4 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-7||5 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-6||6 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-5||7 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-4||8 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-3||9 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-2||10 pm||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC-1||11 am||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC||Doesn’t matter||Doesn’t matter|
|UTC+1||Doesn’t matter||1 am|
|UTC+2||Doesn’t matter||2 am|
|UTC+3||Doesn’t matter||3 am|
|UTC+4||Doesn’t matter||4 am|
|UTC+5||Doesn’t matter||5 am|
|UTC+6||Doesn’t matter||6 am|
|UTC+7||Doesn’t matter||7 am|
|UTC+8||Doesn’t matter||8 am|
|UTC+9||Doesn’t matter||9 am|
|UTC+10||Doesn’t matter||10 am|
|UTC+11||Doesn’t matter||11 am|
|UTC+12||Doesn’t matter||12 pm|
Sometimes the time zone has a half-hour. The above table could still assist you. Look at the current suggested time and subtract or add 30 minutes. For example, if the time zone is UTC-3:30, the submission time must be before 8:30 pm. However, if the time zone is UTC+3:30, the submission time must be after 3:30 am. Of course, don’t leave the submission time to the last minute due to potential technical issues. Also, consider daylight saving time (DST).
Why could submission time be significant?
Sometimes, you must meet a strict deadline as an immigration lawyer, an RCIC, or an applicant. Here are some examples:
- You must extend a legal status in Canada on or before a specific date, or your client loses their maintained status.
- If you do not file the restoration of status in a timely fashion, your client must either leave Canada or file for a TRP.
- IRCC sets a deadline for replying to a PFL or a document request letter.
- You must file for an appeal or respond to a document request by IRB.
Of course, these are some examples. Unfortunately, missing a deadline could have serious consequences, such as application refusal, becoming inadmissible, or facing a removal order.
Time zones and calculating the submission date
When you mail an application, the submission date is when the mailroom receives and stamps the package. However, if the immigration authorities receive the package past the deadline, they usually backdate it by seven days. The practice is to cover for Canada Post or courier delays. Nonetheless, please do not risk it and mail the package a few days in advance.
IRCC uses UTC for online submissions. Therefore, consider the table above while applying. As I mentioned, leaving at least several hours of a buffer is best practice. Technical issues could ruin your submission date.
Let us help!
We take the submission time seriously, regardless of the time zone. Please contact us if you need help. If you are facing any issues, please fill out the following form. I also offer mentorship sessions for licensed practitioners.
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Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
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