Canada Reopens Visa Application Centres As Coronavirus Restrictions Ease

Certain Canada Visa Application Centres have started offering limited services after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collection of biometrics is among the services being offered, even though Canada travel restrictions are still in place.

“Presently, you can travel to Canada only if you are exempted from the travel restrictions or are coming to render essential services. All travellers arriving into Canada must quarantine for fourteen (14) days immediately upon arrival,” said a notice from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Strict safety measures to contain the spread of coronavirus are in place at the nine visa application centres (VACs), which reopened on June 11.

The nine VACs to open are:

  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Erbil, Iraq
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • The Hague, Netherlands
  • Rome, Italy

IRCC hopes that by reopening VACs and moving applications along, they will be able to speed up processing once travel restrictions are lifted.

“The health and safety of the centres and IRCC staffs, as well as that of our clients, is our topmost priority,” the notice said.

“IRCC, along with all its government partners, continues to closely monitor the situations and any impact on client and our operations.”

IRCC says that no immigration application will be turned down because of an inability to acquire or submit relevant documents because of the COVID-19, particularly in the case of biometrics collection.

Candidates will not have to give their biometrics until the collection sites reopens, IRCC says. The extension applies even if a candidate’s biometrics instruction letter gives a thirty (30) or Ninety (90) day deadline.

“No application in progress will be cancelled or refused because of documents that are missing due to the pandemic,” IRCC has said.

Certain temporary foreign workers on the front lines or crucial to the battle against the pandemic are exempt from having to give biometrics before arrival.

The exemptions apply to occupations in the following sectors:

  • Agricultural and agri-food
  • Health-care
  • Truck drivers

IRCC released a Temporary Public Policy to implement the change on June 5, 2020.

The number of candidates affected by the change is limited, as the majority of foreign workers in essential occupations have already given their biometrics because they have previously worked in Canada.

Travellers or temporary foreign workers may be asked to provide biometrics when they arrive at their Port of Entry, IRCC says.

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