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Immigration Instructions: A Chart of Circulars, Directives and Operations Memoranda, 1909-1978

Immigrants awaiting medical examination, circa 1890-1910

This is a guide to the ten series of Immigration policy and procedural instructions issued between 1909 and 1978. The circulars and directives were issued to instruct both Immigration Officers and prospective immigrants of Canadian immigration requirements. All except the London Directives (or "District Circulars") originated at Immigration's Ottawa headquarters. Earlier series, if issued, have not yet been located. Later series remain in the possession of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For further information, see the inventory entry for the Immigration Manuals System (RG 76, series D 5 (a), vols. 932-945).

This guide was revised in September 2000.

Government Records

Circulars (First Series), 1909-1954

(RG 76, vol. 177, file 59735, pts. 1-5, reels C-7332 and C-7333; a few early items in vol. 624, file 947852, pt. 1, reel C-10440):

  • unnumbered, no subject index for 1909-1951; partial index for 1952-1954; see item 4;
  • earlier circulars may exist, scattered throughout RG 76, vols. 1-679;
  • issued to all staff and interested departments;
  • tend to refer to more specific events and issues than Second Series Circulars, and to amendments of the Immigration Act and regulations; and
  • continued by item 4 in 1952.

Circulars (Second Series), 1918-1942

(RG 76, vol. 624, file 947852, pts. 1 and 2, reels C-10440 and C-10441):

  • numbered, no subject index; and
  • tend to refer to more general organization, administration and policy issues.
  • Headquarters Directives ("Series C"),1950-1957
  • (RG 76, vols. 940 and 941, binders 28-30):

Headquarters Directives ("Series C"),1950-1957

(RG 76, vols. 940 and 941, binders 28-30):

  • numbered, 1 to c. 139, with amendment, subject index in RG 76, vol. 941, binder 31;
  • related to policy, interpretation of instructions, and organizational and/or administrative procedures; and
  • issued only to District and to senior officers in the first instance; some were retransmitted to other staff.

Circulars (Third Series or "Series All"), 1852-1859

(RG 76, vols. 939 and 940, binders 23-26):

  • unnumbered subject index in RG 76, vol. 941, binder 31;
  • continuation of item 1;
  • related to interpretation of legislation, regulations and instructions; and
  • issued to all staff and interested federal departments.

London Directives (or "District Circulars"), ca. 1950- July 1951

  • subject index not located;
  • copies of Headquarters Directives (item 3) retransmitted by District Superintendents and the Superintendent of Overseas to field staff; and
  • practice discontinued in July 1951, but amendments to earlier instructions continued thereafter.

Operations Memoranda (First Series) or "Immigration Directives," 1956-1961

(RG 76, vols. 933-938, binders 4-20, interfiled with relevant chapters of the Manual):

  • numbered 4-1 to 29-12 approximately, with amendments, no subject index (numbers tied to chapters in the Manual), no subject index;
  • title changed to "Immigration Directives" in 1959 (see item 7);
  • only nos. 4-1 to 29-12 survive;
  • tend to contain temporary or emergency instructions only; and
  • replaced by item 8 in 1962.

Operations Memoranda (Second Series or "Series B"), 1959-1961

(RG 76, vol. 940, binder 27):

  • numbered 59-1 to 61-33, with amendments, subject index in RG 76, vol. 941, binder 31;
  • issued parallel with item 6 ("Immigration Directives"), 1959-1961; and
  • tend to contain general instructions for which there is no place in the Manuals, reminders of existing instructions in the Manuals , and emergency amendments to the Manuals.

Operational Memoranda (Third Series), 1962-1973

(RG 76, vols. 941 and 942, binders 32-34):

  • part unnumbered, part numbered 1-160, subject index in RG 76, vol. 941, binder 32 (Table of Contents only);
  • replaces all previous instructions, and in particular item 6; and
  • replaced by item 9 in 1971.

Circulars (Fourth Series), 1967-1976 (in force 1971-ca. 1978)

(RG 76, vols. 942-945, binders 38-61, interfiled with relevant chapters of the Manual):

  • numbered IA 3-1 to IA 29-1, no subject index (numbers tied to chapters of the Manual);
  • only nos. IA 3-1 to IA 29-1 survive;
  • continuation of item 8; and
  • tend to refer to specific issues or events.

Circulars (unorganized), 1974

(RG 76, vol. 945, binder 62):

  • unnumbered, no subject index; and
  • unorganized circulars on interpretation of Immigration regulations.

Thematic Guides