On March 16, 2020, Canada made a decision to deny entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. On March 18, 2020, both the US and Canada announced that the Canada- U.S. border will close to all non-essential travel.
What is the impact of these decisions have on immigration applications, especially temporary resident applications?
Visa application centers in many countries including China, France, Italy and US are temporarily closed or open with limited services. In these countries, paper applications may not be possible. However, applicants may still submit the temporary residence applications online. As per the Government of Canada website, “all applications currently in progress at IRCC offices abroad, at case processing centres and within the Domestic Network will continue to be processed but may experience delays”. It is hard to estimate how much delay the applicants should expect given the uncertainty associated with the pandemic. Under this circumstance, if an applicant wishes to withdraw their temporary residence application and is residing in an area where travel restrictions are imposed, the applicant should follow the regular process for withdrawal requests.
If an application is still in process and the applicant is required to provide additional documents, processing officers should send a request letter and allow 90 days for the applicant to respond. If a request for additional documentation was previously sent but the applicant was unable to comply within the deadline, processing officers should bring forward the application and allow an additional 90 days for the applicant to respond. With respect to biometric request, the applicants are allowed 90 days to provide their biometrics despite the 30-day timeline identified in the biometric instruction letter.
Applicants Inside Canada
The pandemic has relatively less impact on the temporary residence applications submitted by foreign nationals inside Canada. For foreign nationals inside Canada whose status is about to expire, they may apply for an extension so that they may maintain their temporary resident status in Canada. As per current guidelines, applicants must apply online. Foreign nationals who have an extension application currently in progress will benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application. It remains unclear whether there will be a delay in processing these applications. If so, a foreign national who is awaiting work permit to start a new job may be negatively impacted.
Foreign nationals whose temporary resident status has expired may apply for restoration. If the applicant is not eligible for restoration, the following options are available: a. refer the case to an admissibility hearing, b. issue a departure order, c. allow the foreign national to remain if the foreign national is not able to depart Canada as a result of Covid-19.
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