Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) previously implemented special measures for applicants for Canadian immigration benefits who have experienced disruptions due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and are located in China, Iran, and South Korea,. These special measures were discussed here. IRCC has since provided additional guidance on its COVID-19 special measures, which relate to applicants located abroad, and in Canada.
While the previous guidance related primarily to applicants located in China, Iran, and South Korea, IRCC’s updated guidance now relates to all citizenship and immigration applications, including those being adjudicated in Canada. More specifically, during the application process, while requests will still be made for further documentation, including police certificates, biometrics, passports, medical examinations (and any documents that must be issued by Chinese, Iranian, or South Korean authorities), the following accommodations will be provided:
- Initial requests for documentation will automatically allow for a 90 day period to respond.
- Applicants unable to comply with a previous request for documentation will be granted an additional 90 days to respond.
- Applicants will automatically be given 90 days to give their biometrics at a visa application centre (despite the 30 day deadline noted in each biometric instruction letter).
IRCC has advised that it does not foresee a significant expedited processing requirement, at least at this time. Therefore, it has not issued specific measures for expedited processing. However, 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.
Applicants located in China, Iran or South Korea, who seek discretionary consideration of their request for expedited processing, in connection with applications for temporary residence (i.e., workers, students, and visitors), should make their requests to the IRCC offices in:
- Hong Kong;
- Ankara; and
- Manila (application processing for applicants located in South Korea).
Instructions on how applicants located in China, Iran, and South Korea should make requests for discretionary expedited processing appear here.
For Canadian citizenship applications, IRCC has also provided the following specific guidance:
- For applicants who have missed appointment dates (i.e., knowledge tests or retests, interviews, hearings, or oath ceremonies), officers will reschedule these appointments once IRCC has been notified that the applicants have returned to Canada.
- Applicants will be provided an additional 30 days to comply with document requests once they have advised the local IRCC office that the have returned to Canada from China, Iran, or South Korea.
- Applicants will be provided an addition 45 days to comply with requests for Medical Opinion forms upon their return to Canada.
- Extra days spent in China, Iran, or South Korea (due to COVID-19) will not count as days in Canada for purposes of the physical presence requirement.
For permanent residence applications, IRCC has also provided the following specific guidance:
- The intake process for new applications will continue.
- Incomplete applications (due to unavailable documentation) will be retained, and reviewed again in 90 days. However, an explanation must be provided to establish that the documentation is unavailable due to service disruptions resulting from COVID-19.
- Incomplete applications which do not include an explanation for the missing documentation may be rejected.
- If supporting documentation continues to be missing during a subsequent review, the documentation will be requested again, with an additional 90-day deadline.
- For applicants located in Canada with dependants in China, Iran, or South Korea, while the processing of their applications will continue, they will not be granted permanent residence if their dependents are unable to travel. Once their dependants are able to travel, applicants will be contacted regarding next steps.
- Applicants who have recently been approved but have not completed the process of “landing” as a permanent resident are exempt from the prohibition on non-essential travel, and may travel to Canada to complete this process. The prohibition on non-essential travel is discussed in detail here. However, they are still subject to the mandatory obligation to self-isolate for a period of 14 days, discussed in detail here.