How COVID-19 has affected immigration into Canada
Canada has taken several exceptional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help travelers and immigrants that have been affected by service disruptions. The federal government has introduced a few new policies, which include:
Foreign travel restrictions
On March 18th, 2020, the federal government closed the Canada-U.S. border for all ‘non-essential travel.’ All airlines have been instructed to conduct health checks before allowing passengers to board their flights. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed entry into Canada.
Upon arrival, a health assessment will be conducted before you’re allowed to leave the entry port. You will also be required to stay in quarantine for fourteen days, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Only essential service providers, such as truck drivers who cross the border regularly to transport goods, are exempted from quarantine requirements.
Special IRCC measures
On March 15th, 2020, Canada’s immigration department introduced new policies for immigrants and officials affected by the novel coronavirus. IRCC has canceled all citizenship tests and retests, itinerant service trips, and citizenship ceremonies until further notice.
These new policies have been implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help individuals whose immigration applications have been affected due to service disruptions, including those applying for Canadian citizenship, temporary residence, and permanent residence.
However, IRCC might continue to ask for any additional documents required to process immigration and citizenship applications. These can include biometrics, medical exams, police certificates, and passports.
If additional documents are required, applicants will receive a request letter by immigration officers and have 90 days to answer. If an applicant cannot meet the deadline and send the necessary documents, their deadline will be extended by an additional 90 days.
Extended deadlines for permanent residence applicants
IRCC has given more time to individuals who have been unable to submit complete permanent residence applications before the deadline, extending it by 90 days in some cases.
If applicants cannot submit a complete application before the set deadline of 60 days, they will need to explain why they don’t have the required documentation. They will also have to pay the associated fees if they want to extend their deadline for an additional 90 days.
Moreover, individuals who have permanent residence visas or hold authorization of permanent residence are eligible for extended deadlines, but only if they notify IRCC about their situation with the web form.
Extensions for temporary residents
Foreign nationals living in Canada with a temporary resident status can apply for an extension if their status is about to expire. Temporary residents wanting an extension must meet all requirements, pay the associated fees, and apply online. Individuals whose extension applications are in progress will be informed of their implied status and can continue to stay in Canada until the immigration officers decide on their application.
Canada is still accepting permanent resident applications, but their ability to process and review them has been affected by the virus. They have not provided estimated processing times, and are mainly focusing on processing priority applications, such as vulnerable groups, Canadians coming back to the country, and individuals who support or perform essential services.
Approved permanent resident applications
If your permanent resident application was approved before or on March 18th, 2020, but you have been unable to travel to Canada, you will be exempt from all travel restriction measures.
If you wish to withdraw your permanent residence application, you can use the Webform to inform the IRCC. You’ll receive a refund if you withdraw the application within 24 hours of submission or if the immigration officers have not started processing it yet.