Updates on Immigrating to Canada & COVID-19
July 24, 2020
While COVID-19 shut down most of the processes for immigrating to, visiting, or staying in Canada, things are slowly starting to turn around. Over the last few weeks, important updates have been made in relation to online applications, applications for renewals, and biometrics.
Online Application Process Re-Opens
As of this month, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced it is resuming the processing of applications for visitor visas (including transit visas) and electronic travel authorizations (eTAs).
That said, IRCC has stated that even if an application is approved, applicants should be aware that most people are still prohibited from travelling into Canada. Of course, quarantine requirements exist for anyone who is able to enter. Also, while online applications have resumed, IRCC’s news release stated that paper applications for visitor visas, study permits, and work permits will not be processed for the time being.
Extended Timelines for Re-applying
On July 14, 2020, the Government of Canada issued a statement saying that visitors or work permit holders in Canada have an extension to apply to restore their status. Under normal conditions, those groups would have 90 days after their temporary immigration status expires to apply to IRCC to restore it.
The extension comes in light of COVID-19, with the recognition that some temporary residents may have been required to renew their status but were unable to do so due to either travel restrictions or IRCC’s lack of ability to process applications.
The new policy states that former workers, students and visitors whose status expired after January 30, 2020, and who remained in Canada will have until December 31, 2020, to apply for a restoration of that status.
For work-permit holders, the policy allows those holders to continue to work while a decision on the restoration of their status is being made. However, to qualify, they must have a job offer, they must submit a work permit application that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an exemption from such, and finally, they must notify IRCC.
Normally, people applying for temporary residence to Canada have to give biometrics to IRCC (fingerprints and a photo). This applies to people seeking a visitor visa, a work or study permit (excluding US nationals), permanent residence, refugee or asylum status, an extension of a stay, or a work or study permit extension.
As a result of COVID-19, Service Canada closed its centres on March 27, 2020. While those centres are starting to re-open, they aren’t all open yet. Therefore, IRCC has put in place a policy stating that applicants applying from within Canada are exempt from having to give biometrics. This applies to people seeking the following:
- an extension of a work permit
- a new work permit
- an extension of a study permit
- a new study permit
- a visitor visa
- a visitor record to allow you to stay in Canada as a temporary resident
- restoration (extension) of temporary resident status
- a temporary resident permit
IRCC has stated that if you are applying and are in Canada, do not pay the $85 fee, even if asked to do it by the system when submitting. However, if you do pay because you’ve been prompted to do so, and you receive a letter with instructions for providing biometrics, you do not have to give them. A refund will be sent to those who paid the $85 fee without knowing they didn’t have to. Refunds will be provided automatically.
At Feigenbaum Law, we provide immigration services to individuals and corporations within the United States and Canada. Our team’s unique background in immigration and tax law puts us in a place to better help in all aspects related to immigration. If you have an immigration issue you would like to discuss, please reach us online or call us directly at (877) 275-4792 to learn how we can help.