Blog

Group of Multiethnic Diverse People with Different Jobs
How Will COVID-19 Coronavirus affect immigration procedures in Canada

Posted on 02/03/2020

How will Canada’s immigration authorities react to the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve detailed for you in our last blog?

As we review possible measures governments in various countries, especially Canada, may take in response to COVID-19, keep in mind that during past outbreaks, whether pandemics or not, like SARS, Ebola, and MERS, Canadian immigration levels have generally been stable or have increased when annual figures are looked at. So, unless SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the COVD-19 disease) becomes a dramatic pandemic, what is more likely is that there will be specific travel restrictions until the outbreak lessens and then levels out or dies off. If you have successfully applied to immigrate or travel to Canada and you come from a country like China, there may be additional medical exams required, and your plans may be delayed. But at this point, it seems unlikely that you will be turned down.

Let’s see what steps Canada has taken so far in response to the latest coronavirus outbreak.

According to the IRCC’s Operational Bulletin 669 which was issued on February 7, 2020 and modified on February 26, 2020:

  • It deals with procedures for new and existing temporary & permanent resident applications, as well as the procedures for citizenship applications in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The IRCC’s International Network provides support to Global Affairs Canada (GAC) on all matters relating to documents required and the process for evacuating people from China to Canada.
  • Special measures are being applied to permanent residents and foreign nationals from China, as well as to foreign nationals from Iran and the Republic of Korea.

The procedures for immigration applications already in progress are as follows:

  • IRCC offices in China & Hong Kong are operating with essential staff only. All visa application centres (VACs) in China are closed. Only the VAC in Hong Kong and the VAC Contact Centre for China are open and operating with normal business hours.
  • IRCC visa offices in other countries are operating normally.
  • Applications will not be refused because of non-compliance but applications in process may experience delays.
  • While there are no direct orders to expedite (process more quickly) applications, the Migration Program Manager of each IRCC office has the discretion to expedite the application to due to special circumstances if they so chose.
  • Urgent applications for temporary residence in Canada are to be taken care of at the following IRCC offices:
    • In China
    • In Hong Kong
    • In Ankara (Turkey)
    • In Manila (which will handle applications from South Korea)
  • The following additional documents may be requested by IRCC offices processing applications:
    • Police certificates
    • Biometrics
    • Passports
    • Medical examination reports
    • Any other documents issued by authorities in China, Iran, or South Korea that are deemed necessary to process an immigration application to Canada
    • When you receive a letter from IRCC requesting additional documents you will have 90 days to provide them. If due to special circumstances you cannot provide the documents within 90 days, you will be given an additional 90 days.
    • Even though your BIL (biometrics instruction letter) says you have 30 days to provide biometrics, you will be given 90 days as in the case of any other document request.
  • In China you will be unable to provide biometrics or submit your travel document (usually passport) for a visa stamp through the VACs because they are closed until further notice. You may still submit online applications.
  • In Iran, because of travel bans, you may be unable to access VACs to submit biometrics of travel documents. You may still apply online.
  • In Korea you may experience delays in obtaining Medical Immigration Examinations (IMEs) because panel physicians are facing high demand for such examinations.

Temporary Residents

Urgent Travel for Temporary Resident Applicants

  • In China, if you need urgent processing for your temporary residence application, you should apply online and then indicate that your application requires urgent processing by sending an email stating this to the following address:

beijing-immigration@international.gc.ca

These applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by immigration officers.

  • In Iran, if you need your temporary residence application to be processed urgently, you should apply online and then go here to fill out a webform indicating you need urgent processing.

Please select NO in response to the following question: Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada? Then complete the rest of the form.

  • In South Korea, if you need your temporary residence application to be processed urgently, you should apply online and then go here to fill out a webform indicating you need urgent processing.

Please select NO in response to the following question: Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada? Then complete the rest of the form.

  • Program managers at IRCC have the authority to waive biometrics overseas for urgent and/or humanitarian or compassionate reasons should this be deemed necessary.

Permanent Resident Applications

Permanent resident travel documents

  • In China if you require a permanent resident travel document call the VAC Contact Centre for instructions at +86 4000 88 66 37 Currently, permanent resident applicants are being asked to submit their Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD usually your Chinese passport) by courier to the embassy in Beijing. Contact IRCC Beijing by email only in exceptional cases when you have very urgent travel needs.
  • In Iran if you require a PRTD to return to Canada, should contact IRCC via the webform here. Answer YES to the question Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada? Then select Turkey – Ankara as the visa office processing your application. Then compete the rest of the form. Only contact IRCC Ankara by email if you require very urgent travel outside of Iran. Submit your application directly to the embassy in Tehran by courier.
  • In South Korea if you require a PRTD to return to Canada, should contact IRCC via the webform here. Answer YES to the question Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada? Then select Philippines – Manila as the visa office processing your application. Then compete the rest of the form. Only contact IRCC Manila by email if you require very urgent travel outside of Iran. Submit your application directly to the embassy in Seoul by courier.
  • If you have a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a Permanent Resident Visa (PRV) and you inform the IRCC by webform here that you cannot travel at the current time, your COPR and/or PRV will be placed on hold on file. If you discover that you are able to travel again before your COPR and PRV has expired, then you will be encouraged to use your current COPR and PRV to travel to Canada.
  • If you are unable to travel before your COPR and PRV have expired immigration officials will re-open your application and flag it for review in 90 days. When you are able to travel and inform IRCC of this, your re-opened application may be approved providing that all your documents are still valid, including of course passports and your Medical Immigration Examination (IME).
  • In China, IMEs may be requested when you tell IRCC that you can travel again depending on the status of your previous IME. They will generally be proactively reassessed for an additional 6 months.

Citizenship Applicants

  • For citizenship applicants who due to travel restrictions, or other problems in returning to Canada, knowledge tests, retests, interviews, hearings, oath ceremonies etc. will be rescheduled once the IRCC has been notified that the applicant has returned to Canada.
  • Once the applicants have returned to Canada, they will have an additional 30 days to submit any requested documents to IRCC.
  • You will have 45 additional days to submit Medical Opinion forms, however.
  • However, days spent in China, Iran, or South Korea will NOT count towards your physical presence in Canada total. Those must be calculated normally.

Temporary Residents in Canada who are unable to travel abroad due to travel restrictions

  • There will be NO fee waivers for any temporary residence applications or extensions. All fees must be paid.
  • Foreign nationals who have an extension application in process will benefit from implied status (you will continue to have legal status) and may remain in Canada.
  • Foreign nationals whose temporary status has expired may apply for restoration but must pay the fee.

Please remember this is a fluid situation, and as more news about the COVID-19 outbreak becomes available, procedures at IRCC especially in countries like China, Iran, and South Korea, may change once more. So, please check back to get the latest news!

Posted in News Tips and tagged Citizenship, PRTD, Visitor Visa

Related Posts