As immigration services begin to reopen around the world, Canada's Immigration Department is reducing a coronavirus measure that automatically extends deadlines for incomplete immigration applications.
However, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will still provide time extensions for people who cannot produce all of the required documents for their application, as long as it is due to a COVID-19 disruption.
The change affects applicants for citizenship, permanent residence, and temporary residence. Over the next few months, IRCC will contact these applicants and ask them for supporting documentation or a reasonable explanation of how a coronavirus-related disruption is preventing them from submitting a full application.
The updated measure is an IRCC effort to expedite decision-making on immigration applications. The department wrote in a press release that having its clients provide their documents will help minimize the impact on future processing times for all applicants by reducing IRCC's current workload.
IRCC has also said that holders of Visitor and Confirmation of Permanent Residence visas are still not permitted to travel to Canada unless they are otherwise exempt from travel restrictions.
What if you have to submit your documents?
IRCC will send an email or letter indicating that you want the documents you need to provide. The immigration service advises those concerned to obtain these documents as quickly as possible.
�As it can take a while to get this information, it is important to start collecting the documents now, so that you can submit them on time when we ask for them,� the IRCC press release reads.
This means that biometric appointments, for example, should be booked as soon as possible. You can check if a service near you is open by looking at the government web page.
IRCC will send you another request in the coming weeks or months, and you will have 30 days from receipt to submit the supporting documents. Then an immigration officer will decide on your application.
For citizenship applicants, if IRCC does not receive your documents after 30 days without an explanation, the ministry may stop processing your application and consider it abandoned.
What if you can't provide documents?
IRCC says agents will be as flexible as possible.
They will look for a "reasonable" explanation of how your request is affected by a COVID-19 disruption within 30 days of the date you receive the request from IRCC.
The ministry provides some examples of reasonable explanations, which could include the following:
If the IRCC officer determines that your request for an extension is reasonable based on your explanation, they will extend your time limit for an additional 30 days. If the IRCC officer believes your request is unreasonable, they will make a decision on your request based on the information they have on file, which may result in your request being denied.
IRCC will notify you of the decision and you will not need to contact them.
If the ministry determines that a large number of customers are affected by a lockdown or service disruption, it will not contact you to request the supporting documents until the situation is resolved.
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