Immigration Operational Bulletin 669 – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – Special processing instructions for temporary residence, permanent residence and ...


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Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency on January 30, 2020. The Government of Canada is assisting Canadians who have requested help in departing from Wuhan, China. Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is the lead for all matters related to the evacuation process. IRCC’s International Network provides support to GAC on ensuring evacuees have proper documentation for departure from China and arrival in Canada.

In addition, permanent residents and foreign nationals may be affected by the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), specifically persons with applications currently in progress with IRCC and foreign nationals in Canada with valid temporary resident status who are unable to effect their own departure from Canada due to the current global situation.

Update: As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, IRCC recognizes that applicants in other countries are increasingly becoming affected by the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Therefore, the special measures IRCC implemented on February 7, 2020, to address a number of potential scenarios affecting permanent residents and foreign nationals from China are also being applied to foreign nationals from Iran and South Korea.

Procedures for citizenship and immigration applications in progress

Office closures

IRCC offices in China and Hong Kong are currently operating with essential staff only. All visa application centres (VACs) in China are closed until further notice. Information regarding re-opening dates will be provided once known. 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 affected countries are currently operating normally.

General processing measures – Centralized, Domestic and International Networks

Applications will not be refused for non-compliance, and all applications currently in progress at IRCC offices abroad, at case processing centres and within the Domestic Network will continue to be processed but may experience delays.

At this time, no significant expedited processing requirement is foreseen; therefore, these instructions do not include specific measures for expedited processing. That said, the decision to expedite an application due to special circumstances remains at the discretion of the Migration Program manager of the responsible IRCC office and the manager of the responsible processing office in Canada. Urgent applications for temporary residence are to be actioned by IRCC offices in China, Hong Kong, Ankara and Manila (processing office for South Korea).

Requests for additional documents on open applications:

Until further notice, offices may continue to request any additional documents necessary for processing to continue in relation to all citizenship and immigration applications, including police certificates, biometrics, passports, medical examinations and any documents that must be issued by Chinese, Iranian or South Korean authorities, as follows:

  • When additional documentation is required to make a decision on the application, processing officers should send a request letter and allow 90 days for the applicant to respond.
  • If a request for additional documentation was previously sent but the applicant was unable to comply within the deadline, processing officers should bring forward the application and allow an additional 90 days for the applicant to respond.
  • Please note that the biometric instruction letter (BIL) cannot be amended and will continue to advise applicants that they have 30 days from the date of the letter to give their biometrics. Officers should still allow 90 days for the applicant to provide their biometrics, despite the 30-day timeline identified in the BIL.

TEMPORARY RESIDENTS – visitors, workers and international students

For International Network

Due to the VAC closures in China, applicants will be unable to provide their biometrics or to submit their original travel document for visa issuance through the VAC; however, applicants in China may still submit online applications only. Applicants with temporary residence applications in progress may contact the VAC Contact Centre for additional details, by phone at +86 4000 88 66 37.

Due to travel bans from neighbouring countries, Iranian citizens may be unable to access VACs or IRCC offices to submit biometrics, attend interviews, do medical examinations, etc. However, applicants in Iran may still submit online applications only.

Urgent travel

CHINA:

Temporary residence applicants in China who have an urgent travel request are asked to submit an online application and then flag the application to IRCC Beijing for urgent processing at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. These applications will be addressed on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the migration officer.

IRAN:

Temporary residence applicants in Iran who have an urgent travel request are asked to submit an online application and then flag the application to IRCC using the web form for urgent processing. Clients should select “No” in response to the question, “Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada?” and then complete the enquiry form.

SOUTH KOREA:

Temporary resident applicants in South Korea who have an urgent travel request are asked to submit an online application and then flag the application to IRCC using the web form for urgent processing. Clients should select “No” in response to the question, “Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada?” and then complete the enquiry form.

Migration program managers have the delegation to waive biometrics overseas for urgent or humanitarian and compassionate reasons if and when deemed necessary.

Withdrawal of temporary residence applications: If an applicant wishes to withdraw their temporary residence application and is residing in an area where travel restrictions are imposed, regular processes for withdrawal requests should be followed.

PERMANENT RESIDENTS

Permanent resident travel documents

CHINA:

Permanent residents who may require a permanent resident travel document to return to Canada should contact the VAC Contact Centre for additional instructions. Applicants requesting urgent travel outside of China should be directed to contact IRCC Beijing in exceptional cases only (email). Permanent residents are being asked to submit their PRTD applications directly to the embassy by commercial courier.

IRAN:

Permanent residents who may require a PRTD to return to Canada should contact IRCC via the web form. Clients outside Canada should select “Yes” in response to the question, “Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada?” and then select “Turkey – Ankara” as the visa office processing their application. Applicants requesting urgent travel outside of Iran should be directed to contact IRCC Ankara in exceptional cases only (email). Permanent residents are being asked to submit applications directly to the embassy by courier.

SOUTH KOREA:

Permanent residents who may require a PRTD to return to Canada should contact IRCC via the web form. Clients outside Canada should select “Yes” in response to the question, “Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada?” and then select “Philippines – Manila” as the visa office processing their application. Applicants requesting urgent travel outside of South Korea should be directed to contact IRCC Manila in exceptional cases only (email). Permanent residents are being asked to submit applications directly to the embassy by courier.

Approved permanent residence applications (COPR and PRV):

Permanent residence applicants who are in possession of a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) and permanent resident visa (PRV) and inform us, by submitting a web form to IRCC, that they are unable to travel within the validity of their documentation should be processed as follows:

  • Valid COPR and PRV:

In an effort to reduce the number of cancelled COPRs and PRVs, a note should be placed in the file explaining that the applicant is unable to travel, and the file should be brought forward to the expiration date of the COPR and PRV. If the applicant informs IRCC that they can travel prior to the COPR and PRV expiration, they are encouraged to use their existing COPR and PRV to land.

  • Expired COPR and PRV:

If the applicant informs IRCC via the web form that they were unable to travel after the expiration of their COPR and PRV, or if they were unable to travel prior to expiration, officers are to re-open the application, and it should be brought forward for review in 90 days.

Note: Approved applications can be re-opened in GCMS by cancelling the COPR and PRV and removing the final decision.

  • When to review a re-opened application:

Once the applicant informs IRCC via the web form that they are able to travel, a re-opened application may be re-approved provided that the applicant and their family members, whether accompanying or not, have valid immigration medical examinations, criminal and security checks and passports.

If the 60-day waiting period elapses and the applicant has not informed us that they are able to travel, a note should be placed in the application, and it should be brought forward for review for an additional 60 days

Medical examinations (applies to applicants residing in China only):

All permanent residence applicants must have valid immigration medical examination (IME) results in order for officers to finalize an application. A complete list of panel physicians in China is available on the IRCC website. Should the IMEs be expired by the time the applicant and their family are ready to travel, new IMEs (or a reassessment of the IMEs, if possible) will be required prior to finalization. Do not request a new IME until the applicant indicates that they are ready to travel.

The Migration Health Branch will continuously identify all applications where the applicant is residing in China and their medical results will expire in the coming 4 to 8 weeks. Identified applications with an original M1 or M3 decision will be proactively reassessed for an additional 6 months.

Any applicants whose medical results have been reassessed but who do not travel to Canada within the new 6-month validity will require a new IME.

IRCC offices abroad and case processing centres within the Domestic Network should remain flexible in providing extensions for getting medical examinations where feasible and until further notice. These instructions will be updated as the situation evolves.

Permanent residence applications with current medical results that are valid for more than 6 months may be finalized, and the COPR may be issued, if possible.

For Centralized and Domestic Networks only

Permanent residence application intake: Intake of new permanent residence applications will continue. Files that are incomplete due to unavailable documents will be retained in the system and reviewed in 90 days.

New, complete permanent residence applications under section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) will be processed as per normal procedures.

If a new application is missing supporting documentation (associated fees are required), the applicant should include an explanation with their application that they are affected by the service disruptions as a result of the novel coronavirus. The application may then be promoted and reviewed in 90 days. New applications should be promoted in the order they were received, and the org ID should be associated with them when the applicant self-identifies. If the application is still incomplete in 60 days, officers should request the missing documents with an additional 90-day deadline.

Applications found to be incomplete with no explanation provided, or for reasons unrelated to the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus, may be rejected as per section R10, and all fees associated with the application should be refunded to the applicant. The reason for rejection should be unrelated to the disruption of services.

Offices in the Centralized and Domestic Networks will continue to process permanent residence applications where the principal applicant is in Canada and has overseas dependants in China, Iran or South Korea, taking into account the delays that may occur. The principal applicant should not be granted permanent residence if their overseas dependants cannot travel. Clients will be contacted to ascertain next steps once travel is possible again.

CITIZENSHIP APPLICANTS

Procedures for citizenship applicants who have missed events such as knowledge tests, retests, interviews, hearings or oath ceremonies: Officers are directed to reschedule events once IRCC has been notified that the clients have returned to Canada. The responsible office should ensure that they are rescheduled within a reasonable timeframe so as to not delay processing times. They will be sent a new notice to appear, and it will be treated as their first notice.

Document requests: Officers are required to provide applicants with an additional 30 days to send documents to IRCC once applicants have notified the local office that they have returned from China, Iran or South Korea.

Request for Medical Opinion forms: Officers will provide applicants an additional 45 days upon their return to Canada to comply.

Permanent residents applying for citizenship upon return from China, Iran or South Korea: Extra days spent in China, Iran or South Korea due to the virus shall not count as days in Canada. Applicants must meet the physical presence requirements as per normal procedure.

Procedures for temporary residents in Canada who are unable to depart Canada due to travel restrictions or other circumstances related to impacts of the novel coronavirus

There is no fee waiver for any temporary residence applications or extensions. Foreign nationals who are in Canada and whose temporary resident status may soon expire may apply for an extension so that they may maintain their temporary resident status in Canada. As per current guidelines, applicants must apply online and must meet all requirements, including associated fees.

Foreign nationals who have an extension application currently in progress will benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application; therefore, expedited processing is not required.
Restoration: Foreign nationals whose temporary resident status has expired may apply for restoration. They must pay the associated fee.

If the applicant is eligible for restoration
The officer proceeds with the assessment of the application (medical results, bona fides, etc.).

If all other requirements are met, the officer issues a visitor record (or appropriate permit) outlining the conditions for the restoration of status. The document is mailed to the client.

If the applicant is not eligible for restoration

The Minister’s delegate decides on a disposition for the case. The following options are available:

  • refer the case to an admissibility hearing
  • issue a departure order
  • allow the foreign national to remain
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