To make Canada immigration a safe and fruitful experience, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is taking necessary measures. These measures are taken at different levels. IRCC too has issued instructions to travelers and officials.
Canada’s exceptional measures are aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Canada is doing its best to help immigrants and travelers as they are affected by service disruptions.
Many policies have been announced by the federal government in this context.
Restrictions on foreign travel to Canada
Canada announced its decision to close its borders to those who are neither Canadian citizens nor Canadian permanent residents. This announcement was made on Monday, March 16, 2020. The immediate family members of Canadians, U.S. citizens, diplomats, and aircrew members will be exempted in this regard.
The federal government is yet to form its decision on the return of Canadians or Canadian residents who are currently overseas. These involve those who have valid visas for study and work.
There are no border restrictions on cargo and transportation of goods. Regarding passengers who take flights, airlines have been given clear instructions. They must check all passengers boarding flights for COVID-19 symptoms. Only those who are checked and cleared will be let to fly to Canada.
From March 18, 2020, only 4 Canadian airports will be open for international flights. These airports are:
- Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
- Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport
- Calgary International Airport
This measure, for now, will not affect flights from the US, the Caribbean, Mexico, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. It also won’t affect domestic flights in Canada.
Special measures by IRCC
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released new instructions for officials and immigrants. These instructions were issued on March 15, 2020. IRCC announced that it will cancel all citizenship tests and retests, citizenship ceremonies, and itinerant service trips indefinitely.
All possible steps are being taken to help those who are applying for permanent residence, Canadian citizenship, or temporary residence. This is considering their difficulty due to disruptions to services owing to the COVID-19 related situation.
In-person refugee claim appointments and in-person permanent resident landing appointments will remain closed until April 13, 2020.
IRCC has also stated that no visa application will be refused if they are in progress or has non-compliance issues. These applications in progress are at IRCC offices abroad in case-processing centers and within the domestic network. Their processing will continue, though some delays will have to be put up with.
Applicants with special circumstances will continue to get faster processing. The discretion of relevant officials will suffice for it. These officials are:
- The Migration Program Manager of the responsible IRCC office
- The manager of the responsible processing office in Canada
IRCC may also ask for more documents needed to process new applications for immigration and citizenship. The documents may include biometrics, passports, police certificates, and medical exam result sheet. These could also include documents issued by authorities in South Korea, China, and Iran.
A request letter will be sent by immigration officers when additional documentation becomes necessary. The applicant can respond to the letter in 90 days. If the applicant fails to produce additional documents on time, he/she will be given an extra 90 days to respond. This is irrespective of the biometric instruction letter saying that applicants have 30 days to give biometric information.
Extended time for permanent residence applications
Additional days are allowed to those unable to complete and submit a permanent residence application before the deadline. This could be even 90 extra days.
If an applicant submits an incomplete application within the 60 days’ deadline, they must furnish an explanation. They must explain the absence of the required documents. Upon giving all associated fees, they could get their deadline extended for an extra 90 days.
Even those are eligible for extended deadlines who hold confirmation of permanent residence or PR visas. They need to inform IRCC about their situation using the web form.
Chinese nationals must take another medical exam if their previous one has expired or is nearing expiry. The special measures announced by IRCC would be extended to people who are Chinese nationals, residents of Iran and those from South Korea.
Temporary residents allowed to apply for extensions
Foreign nationals in Canada with their temporary residency nearing expiry may apply for an extension. This will help them to keep their status in Canada. They must apply online, conform to all requirements and pay the necessary fees.
The people whose extension applications are in progress will get an implied status. It will let them stay in Canada until a decision on their application is made.
Cancellation of Citizenship ceremonies and knowledge test
Canada is canceling all citizenship ceremonies, knowledge testing and retesting events temporarily. A date is yet to be fixed for these events. Those who are affected by the cancellations will be given a new date and time in the weeks to come.
Under the present circumstances, IRCC is taking measures to help every case of concern. It is considering urgent processing on a case by case basis. Those who want their case to be treated as urgent can contact the Canada immigration department via their email.
IRCC has also decided to reschedule missed appointments regarding citizenship. This involves interviews, oath ceremonies, hearings, and knowledge tests and retests. The applicants need to notify IRCC upon their return to Canada. The responsible offices are already instructed to reschedule the event within a reasonable time. This is necessary to avoid stretching of processing time. Applicants will get a new notice, which will be treated as their first notice, to appear for the processing. Officers will give applicants an extra 45 days upon their return to Canada. This will help them to comply with requests for Medical Opinion forms.
An important fact to remember is that applicants must still meet the physical presence requirements. Extra days spent in South Korea, China, or Iran won’t be counted as valid days in Canada.
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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