COVID19 – Canada Issues New Instructions During Coronavirus Pandemic

Canada is taking severe measures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and help immigrants and travellers affected by service disruptions and to that effect, new instructions have been rolled out.

The following is a summary of new federal government policies that were recently announced:

Canada Places Restrictions On Foreign Citizens 

On March 16, Canada announced it is closing its borders to people who are not permanent residents or Canadian citizens. Exceptions will be made for close family members of Canadian citizens, U.S. citizens, diplomats and aircrew members.

The federal government has announced it will provide the public with more information on the status of those who possess valid work and study permits and who are currently abroad. At this moment, it is unknown whether such people will be allowed to return to Canada.

Border restrictions will not apply to goods and cargo transportation.

Additionally, airlines have been asked to check all boarding passengers for symptoms of COVID-19, and anyone who displays symptoms will be allowed to fly to Canada.

Beginning from Wednesday, March 18, only four airports in Canada will be open to international flights: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

For the time being, flights from the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Saint-Pierre and Miquelon will not be restricted by this measure. Domestic flights within Canada will also not be affected.

Canada’s immigration department Rolls Out Measures 

The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also rolled out new instructions for officials and immigrants affected by coronavirus diseases.

IRCC announced they will be suspending all citizenship ceremonies, citizenship test and retest, and itinerant service trips until further notice.

The new instructions issued are an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, and to assist those whose immigration applications are affected by service disruptions, including individuals who are applying for temporary residence, Canadian permanent residence, and Canadian citizenship.

Also, under the new instructions, the immigration department says applications will not be rejected for non-compliance and all those currently in progress at IRCC departments abroad at case processing centres and within the Domestic centres will continue to be processed. There may be delays as some visa offices are closed until further notice, and some immigration offices are operating with essential staff only.

More Time For Permanent Residence Applications

Canada immigration department is being more lenient for those unable to lodge a complete application for immigration before the deadline, allowing an additional Ninety (90) days in some cases.

If applicants must lodge an incomplete application before the allotted sixty (60) days are up, they must include an explanation as to why they could not have all the required documents. They must also pay all related fees in order to have their deadline extended an extra Ninety (90) days.

Additionally, those who hold confirmation of permanent residence, and permanent residence visas may be qualified for an extended deadline, as long as they notify IRCC of their situation through the web form.

Chinese citizens are being requested to take another medical examination if their previous one has expired or is about to expire.

Earlier this month, IRCC stated that it would be extending special measures first implemented for Chinese citizens to residents of South Korea and Iran as well.

Temporary Residents May Apply For Extensions

Foreign citizens who are in Canada and whose temporary resident status is about to expire may apply for an extension to retain their status.

Temporary residents to wish to extend status must apply online, meet all requirements, and pay all related fees.

Those who have extension applications in progress will get implied status and can remain in Canada until a decision is made on their application.

Citizenship Ceremonies, knowledge Testing And Retesting Cancelled

Canada is suspending all citizenship ceremonies, as well as knowledge testing and retesting events.

These events will be postponed “in the nearest future” but IRCC has yet to give a date as to when they will reopen.

People who are affected by cancellations will be provided with a new date and time in the near future.

IRCC will also shelve missed appointments for citizenship-related appointments such as hearings, interviews, oath ceremonies, as well as knowledge test and retest. Once applicants inform IRCC that they have returned to Canada the responsible department has been instructed to ensure that they are postponed within a reasonable time frame so as to not delay processing times. Candidates will receive another notice to appear that will be treated as their first notice.

Officers will provide applicants with an extra forty-five (45) days upon their return to Canada to comply with requests for Medical Opinion forms.

It is also important to note that candidates must still meet the physical presence requirements. Extra time spent in China, South Korea and Iran will not count as days in Canada.