On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released new instructions for those affected by COVID-19. Like other countries, Canada is working diligently to halt the spread of the virus; however, IRCC is adopting new policies and procedures to minimize any disruption to Immigration processing and to help applicants who are affected in any way by COVID-19. Among the steps being taken by IRCC insofar as Permanent Residence Applications are concerned are the following (reproduced from the IRCC website with minor text modifications):
Intake of new Permanent Residence Applications will continue. Files that are incomplete due to unavailable documents will be retained in the system and reviewed in 90 days.
New, complete Permanent Residence Applications under section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) will be processed as per normal procedures.
If a new Application is missing supporting documentation (associated fees are required), the applicant should include an explanation with his/her Application that he/she is affected by the service disruptions as a result of the novel coronavirus. The Application may then be promoted and reviewed in 90 days. New Applications should be promoted in the order they were received. If the Application is still incomplete in 60 days, officers should request the missing documents with an additional 90-day deadline.
Applications found to be incomplete with no explanation provided, or for reasons unrelated to the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus, may be rejected as per section 10 of IRPR, and all fees associated with the Application should be refunded to the applicant. The reason for rejection should be unrelated to the disruption of services.
Approved Permanent Residence Applications (COPR and PRV)
Permanent residence applicants who are in possession of a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and Permanent Resident Visa (PRV) and inform IRCC, by submitting a web form to IRCC, that they are unable to travel within the validity of their documentation should be processed as follows:
Valid COPR and PRV: In an effort to reduce the number of cancelled COPRs and PRVs, a note should be placed in the file explaining that the applicant is unable to travel, and the file should be brought forward to the expiration date of the COPR and PRV. If the applicant informs IRCC that he/she can travel prior to the COPR and PRV expiration, he/she is encouraged to use his/her existing COPR and PRV to land.
Expired COPR and PRV: If the applicant informs IRCC via the web form that he/she was unable to travel after the expiration of his/her COPR and PRV, or if he/she was unable to travel prior to expiration, officers are to re-open the Application, and it should be brought forward for review in 90 days.
Approved Applications can be re-opened by cancelling the COPR and PRV and removing the final decision.
When to Review a Re-opened Application
Once the applicant informs IRCC via the web form that he/she is able to travel, a re-opened Application may be re-approved provided that the applicant and his/her family members, whether accompanying or not, have valid immigration medical examinations, criminal and security checks and passports.
If the 60-day waiting period elapses and the applicant has not informed IRCC that he/she is able to travel, a note should be placed in the Application, and it should be brought forward for review for an additional 60 days.