Canada is working to ace the challenge of balancing its measures to prevent COVID-19 and keeping Canada immigration open. The country has refined its special COVID-19 prevention measures. They have special provisions for immigrants and their families. The efforts to help residents to get back home is also on quite enthusiastically.
The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not stopped processing applications for immigration and citizenship. The IRCC is doing all it can to not let delays in processing and refusals affect the arrival of immigrants to the country.
But in this regard, few measures have been refined by the immigration department. The measures are concerning applicants for permanent residence, citizenship, and temporary residence.
Interim order addressing exemptions for foreign travelers
An interim order has been in effect from March 21, 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to it, foreign travelers boarding flights to Canada from countries other than the US are prohibited. But there are exemptions. The exemptions are largely applicable to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and those in the protected persons list.
Every person allowed to travel to Canada will be subjected to health screening measures. Exempted travelers include:
Family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents
Foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can travel to Canada. The definition of family members has been broadened. In the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) the family members are defined as:
- Spouses and common-law partners
- Dependent children of the resident or their partner
- Dependent children of the dependent mentioned in point 2
The refined definition by interim order includes
- Own or stepparents of the foreign national
- Parents/stepparents of the foreign national’s a spouse/common-law partner
- Guardian/tutor of the foreign national
The dependent child mentioned in the IRPA is one who
- Has any of the below-mentioned relations with the parent
- Biological child of the parent, not been adopted by none other than the spouse or common-law partner
- Adopted child of the parent
- Has any of the below-mentioned situations of dependency
- The person is less than 22 years of age and not married or in a common-law partnership
- The person is 22 years or older in age and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before attaining the age of 22 years. The person is also not able to self-support financially due to a physical or mental condition
Where the immediate family member is a parent or stepparent, the foreign national child’s age is not a factor. It is not required to establish dependency. Also, the physical location of the Canadian resident’s family member doesn’t count.
Travelers should self-identify to the airlines at the boarding point. Thus, they should prove that they are exempt under this provision. They must present documentation to establish their family member’s citizenship in Canada or permanent resident status. The documentation will also prove their relationship to that family member.
The documentation showing immediate family member’s citizenship in Canada or permanent residency includes:
- Canadian passport
- Canadian permanent resident card
- A travel document for Canadian permanent resident (i.e. visa counterfoil)
- IRCC Special Authorization for Canadian Citizens
- Visa-exempt foreign passport
The documentation showing the relation to that family member includes:
- Marriage or common-law status certificate
- Birth certificate
- Confirmation of Permanent Resident (COPR). This is applicable for Family Class (FC)
- Other documents supporting an immediate family connection. E.g. Correspondence from IRCC that shows spousal sponsorship in progress, or documentation showing a common residential address
These documents will be accepted in paper and electronic copies.
The exemption for foreign nationals has also been relaxed to help a family reunion. The exemption is possible if a consular officer authorizes the travel of the foreigner to Canada.
In this regard, the expanded definition of immediate family members is applicable. The immediate family member of the foreign national must be a resident in Canada. That family member needn’t be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This implies that a foreign national having an immediate family member in Canada living as a worker, visitor, student, or protected person would be eligible for this exemption.
Canadian citizens traveling on a foreign passport
Sometimes, Canadian citizens may travel to Canada on a visa-exempt foreign passport. this needs a special authorization. In such a case, IRCC will produce a confirmation email. It will approve the special authorization. To adhere to the interim order, the Canadian citizen can provide this email to the airline. It will show that they are not a foreign national, and hence not subject to travel restriction.
Retention and processing of permanent residency application
IRCC will keep going with its work of processing new applications for permanent residence. The application files with documents missing will be kept in the system. They will be reviewed within 90 days. The normal procedure will be applied to processing completed applications.
If new applications have supporting documentation missing, the applicant should include an explanation. It should say that the applicant is affected by service interruptions. These interruptions should be owing to the COVID-19 crisis.
IRCC will consider processing delays that may occur for principal applicants who are in Canada and have dependents in China, Iran or South Korea. These dependents would be those who are unable to travel presently. Only when they can travel again, will they be instructed of the next steps to get permanent residence.
Applicants for permanent residence who can’t travel will be able to maintain the validity of their documents if they have:
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR)
- Permanent Resident Visa (PRV)
They must inform the IRCC about their inability to travel.
Citizenship appointments made flexible
IRCC citizenship officers will reschedule missed citizenship appointments. These could be:
- Knowledge tests
- Oath ceremonies
Once IRCC learns that an individual has returned to Canada, it has the duty to reschedule the appointments. This will be done within a reasonable timeframe. This will avoid delaying processing times.
IRCC’s citizenship officers are must also provide applicants with an additional 30 days to send their documents. This should be once applicants have notified IRCC of their return from Iran, China, or South Korea.
Applicants who have returned to Canada will get an additional 45 days to submit their request for medical opinion forms.
These permanent residents, upon return, must meet Canada’s physical presence requirements.
If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.
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