ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 643 – August 18, 2017


This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.




Guidelines for the application of special measures for persons directly affected by a crisis situation: Wildfires in British Columbia




This Operational Bulletin has expired.





Summary




This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides special operational instructions related to temporary special measures for Canadian citizens and for protected persons, temporary residents and permanent residents of Canada directly affected by the crisis situation resulting from the wildfires in British Columbia (BC).

Note: From this point forward, references to “the crisis situation” in these instructions refer to the wildfires in BC.




Background




As a result of this crisis situation, Canadian passports and other documents belonging to Canadian citizens, protected persons, temporary residents and permanent residents in or from the affected area may have been lost, destroyed, damaged or rendered inaccessible. In addition, foreign workers may be temporarily out of work, and international students may be temporarily unable to continue their studies if their designated learning institution is not accessible, or their transfer to another designated learning institution may be delayed pending the issuance of official documentation from a designated learning institution in the affected area.

With respect to these potential disruptions in the status and authorizations of persons and the loss of immigration documents due to the crisis situation, and as part of the Government of Canada’s response to support those affected by the wildfires in BC, under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister has authorized the Public Policy Concerning Foreign Nationals in Canada Affected by the Wildfires in British Columbia (Public Policy) with special measures for temporary residents in Canada. The Minister has also approved special measures for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.




Measures applicable to all Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) programs and lines of business




Affected area: For the purposes of special measures by IRCC, the communities who were or are under mandatory evacuation orders due to the BC wildfires as reported to Public Safety Canada by the Province of British Columbia are considered as the “affected area”.

The communities under active or rescinded evacuation orders at the time of publication of this OB are represented by the following postal code prefixes:

  • V0E: e.g., Hallamore Lake, Little Fort
  • V0H: e.g., Kaleden
  • V0K: e.g., 100 Mile House, 103 Mile House, 150 Mile House, Ashcroft Reserve, Cache Creek
  • V0L: e.g., Alexis Creek, Hanceville, Kleena Kleene, Miocene, Riske Creek
  • V0X: e.g., Princeton
  • V2G: e.g., Williams Lake, Fox Mountain, Soda Creek

The postal codes and communities listed above are provided as general guidelines only. Persons outside these areas may also be “directly affected”.

These special measures do not limit the authority of officers under section A25.1, and all requests for the application of these measures should be dealt with and assessed on a case-by-case basis. Special requests from individuals who present proof of residence, of the designated study institution or of work in a location that has been affected by the crisis situation since July 7, 2017, should be considered for the application of special measures until the special measures expire.

Contacting IRCC: A dedicated email address has been activated by the IRCC Client Support Centre to receive all enquiries related to this crisis situation: [email protected]. Passport-related inquiries continue to be handled by the Service Canada Call Centre.

Self-identification of affected persons: These special measures apply only to persons directly affected by this crisis situation. It remains the responsibility of those persons to identify themselves as such (“self-identify” to IRCC) and attest to their circumstances by providing the following to IRCC in all correspondence or applications: proof of residence, proof of loss of employment, proof that their designated learning institution is not operational and/or proof of enrolment or a pending registration or enrolment with another designated learning institution in the affected area, as subsequently explained by the program or line of business in these guidelines.

Deadline to submit a request under these special measures: To be eligible for consideration under the special measures, applications to replace documents or to extend or restore status must be made before January 6, 2018 (i.e., by 11:59 pm on January 5, 2018). For the purposes of these special measures, the postmark on envelopes containing paper applications may be considered as the date the application was made.

Updates to applicant addresses: All affected persons who are no longer residing at the address provided to IRCC in their initial application (e.g., if they are temporarily housed in an evacuation centre or shelter) should provide updated contact information (a temporary or permanent address where they can receive mail or packages and a telephone number where they can be reached during the crisis situation) to IRCC via the dedicated email address according to the “Contacting IRCC” section of these instructions. Updates to passport client addresses continue to be handled by the Service Canada Call Centre.

Non-compliance for non-reply to requests for additional information: People have been displaced as a result of this crisis and may not be reachable through the contact information they originally provided to IRCC in their applications or by other means. Decisions should not be made on the basis of non-reply from applicants in the affected area to requests for additional information from July 7, 2017, onwards (until the expiry of these special measures). In these instances, files should be put aside until contact with the applicant has been re-established or until these special measures expire (whichever comes first).

Applicants who were contacted before the issuance of these special measures and from whom a response was expected or required before July 7, 2017, but was not received, may be subject to the standard procedures on the basis of non-reply.

Expedited processing: All crisis-related applications from the affected area (including requests for replacement documents) and requests for information or guidance should be processed on an expedited basis, and all requests should be considered in a compassionate and flexible manner on a case-by-case basis.

Validity of replacement documents: With the exception of permanent resident card (PR card) replacements and electronic travel authorizations (eTAs), all replacement documents must match previously held documents in regard to validity, conditions, etc. PR card replacements will continue to be processed using standard operating procedures and, once eligibility for a card is confirmed, with the validity prescribed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). eTAs are non-transferable and non-refundable and they therefore cannot be replaced.

Passport validity (foreign nationals): The special measures do not waive the requirement of section R52 for foreign nationals to hold a valid passport or applicable entry document (visa or eTA). There are no special measures allowing them to submit their application for restoration or an extension before receiving their replacement passport or travel document, nor are there special measures that waive any fees related to entry documents (visa or eTA) or change visa issuance procedures. A foreign national from a visa-exempt country who obtains a new passport from their country of citizenship must also obtain a new eTA under their new passport number.

Immigration medical examinations: New immigration medical examinations are not required for the replacement of lost or destroyed documents, nor are they required specifically as a result of this crisis situation.

Medical insurance: Individuals should continue to be made aware of the availability of private medical insurance before their arrival in Canada. Not all provinces and territories extend immediate health coverage to recent arrivals, including temporary residents and permanent residents. Temporary residents and permanent residents should ensure their medical insurance is extended for any situations resulting from this crisis. IRCC does not reimburse the cost of medical insurance.

Refund requests: With the exception of eTA applications, all applications for replacement documents made on or after July 7, 2017, and before January 6, 2018, are fee exempt. eTA application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Requesting a refund: Affected persons who paid a fee after July 7, 2017, and before January 6, 2018, that would have been waived under these special measures can request a refund by contacting the IRCC Client Support Centre or by sending an email to [email protected] indicating “REFUND REQUEST” in the subject line. Determination of the client’s eligibility for a refund will be made by the primary issuing office.

New applications: New applications for passports, for temporary or permanent residence or for work or study permits from outside Canada or within Canada from applicants destined to the affected area are not covered by these special measures and should be processed under regular procedures. Standard fees and requirements apply.

However, officers should confirm that work locations or designated learning institutions in the affected area are not affected by the crisis situation before issuing new work or study permits.




Program-specific special measures







Special program measures for Canadian citizens




Proof of citizenship

Affected Canadian citizen: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, applicants should provide an explanation of their situation. This may be in the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of residence in an affected area, such as a government-issued identity document (original or a copy) or a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area.

Citizenship certificate replacement: To request replacement citizenship certificates, affected Canadian citizens must follow standard procedures, but the proof of citizenship application fee ($75) for the replacement should not be charged to the applicant.

Canadian passports

Affected Canadian citizen (resident of the affected area): To identify themselves as “affected persons”, applicants should provide an explanation of their situation by completing and signing a “Declaration concerning a lost, stolen, inaccessible, damaged or found Canadian travel document (PDF, 120.09KB)” form accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of residence in an affected area, such as a government-issued identity document (original or copy) or a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area.

Affected Canadian citizen (visitor or non-resident of the affected area): To identify themselves as “affected persons”, applicants should provide an explanation of their situation by completing and signing a “Declaration concerning a lost, stolen, inaccessible, damaged or found Canadian travel document (PDF, 120.09KB)” form and a “Declaration Disaster Assistance” form [PPTC 626] (PDF, 51.3KB).

Passport replacement: To request gratis replacement passports, affected Canadian citizens must follow standard procedures, but the processing fee should not be charged to the applicant. The fee to declare a lost passport should not be charged.




Special program measures for permanent residents




Affected permanent resident of Canada: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, applicants must provide an explanation of their situation. This may be in the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of residence in an affected area, such as a government-issued identity document (original or a copy) or a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area. However, the signed and completed “Solemn declaration concerning a lost, stolen, destroyed or never received permanent resident card (PDF, 599.68KB) section of the application form can be accepted as the attestation or self-identification as a person affected by the crisis situation.

PR card replacement: To request replacement PR cards, affected Canadian permanent residents must follow standard procedures, but the application fee ($50) should not be charged to the applicant.

Urgent permanent resident travel document (PRTD) applications made to a visa application centre (VAC): Affected permanent residents of Canada who departed Canada on or after July 7, 2017, without their PR card because it was damaged, destroyed or rendered unavailable directly as a result of the crisis situation must obtain a PRTD before they return to Canada. When submitting their PRTD application to a VAC, affected permanent residents should identify their application as urgent to the VAC, which will then inform the appropriate Canadian visa office. Such requests for PRTDs should be processed on an expedited basis at Canadian visa offices.

Certificate of identity replacement: To request replacement certificates of identity, affected permanent residents who are stateless or who, for valid reasons, cannot obtain a passport from their country of origin must follow standard procedures. However, the processing fee should not be charged to the applicant.




Special program measures for temporary residents




Affected visitor: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, foreign nationals must provide an explanation of their situation. This may be in the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of temporary residence in an affected area, such as a government-issued identity document (original or a copy), a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area or a hotel bill or receipt showing the institution’s address located in the affected area.

Affected temporary foreign worker: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, foreign nationals must provide an explanation of their situation. This may take the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of how they have been directly affected by the crisis situation (e.g., a residence or workplace in an affected area), such as a government-issued identity document (original or copy) or a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area, as well as the name and address of their employer in the affected area and acceptable proof that the place of employment is not operational due to the crisis situation (e.g., a signed letter from their employer on company letterhead, a media article stating the place of employment is not operational or a copy of a notice posted on the company’s website).

Affected student: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, foreign nationals must provide an explanation of their situation. This may be in the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of how they have been directly affected by the crisis situation, such as a government-issued identity document (original or copy) or a utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area, as well as the name and address of their designated learning institution in the affected area and acceptable proof that the designated learning institution is not operational due to the crisis situation (e.g., a signed letter from the designated learning institution on school letterhead, a media article, a broadcast email to students stating that classes are suspended due to the crisis situation or a copy of a notice posted on the institution’s website).

Fee waivers for replacement of temporary resident documents or extension or restoration of status: Under condition 1, the Public Policy authorizes officers to waive the following fees for the replacement of immigration documents or extensions of status for temporary residents:

  • Temporary resident document replacement application, including verification of status documents ($30) [exemption to R311(2)]
  • Restoration of temporary resident status ($200) [exemption to R306(1)]
  • Work permit extension ($155) [exemption to R299(1) and R303.2(1)]
  • Open work permit holder fee ($100) [exemption to R303.2(1)]
  • Study permit extension ($150) [exemption to R300(1)]
  • Extension of authorization to remain in Canada as a temporary resident ($100) [exemption to R181(1) and R305]

Extension of status: Under conditions 2, 3 and 4, the Public Policy authorizes officers to grant an exemption from paragraph R181(1)(a) to allow additional time for affected foreign nationals to extend their temporary status if they had valid status on July 7, 2017, and that valid status expires before January 6, 2018, by waiving the requirement under section R182 to submit an application for renewal or extension before the expiry of their present document (i.e., before the end of the period authorized for their stay).

Restoration period: Under conditions 2, 3 and 4, the Public Policy authorizes officers to grant an exemption from section R182 (the requirement for a visitor, worker or student to apply for restoration within 90 days of losing temporary resident status) to allow additional time for affected foreign nationals to apply for restoration if they had valid status on July 7, 2017, and that valid status expires before January 6, 2018.

Note: There is no prescribed length of time for applications for an extension of status under these special measures. Officers should continue to determine the validity period of new temporary resident documents as per the standard program delivery instructions.




Temporary foreign workers




Work permit conditions: Under condition 3, the Public Policy exempts affected temporary foreign workers who were in status and had a valid work permit on July 7, 2017, from the requirement to apply for the renewal of a work permit before the expiration of the work permit, and exempts them from the requirement to be authorized to work in Canada by a work permit or the Regulations until the expiry of these special measures [exemption to R196 and R201(1)(a)].

Unauthorized work: Under condition 3, the Public Policy authorizes officers to issue a work permit to an eligible foreign national directly affected by the crisis situation who has engaged in unauthorized work or study in Canada or has failed to comply with the conditions of a previous permit or authorization [exemption to R200(3)(e)].

Employer compliance regime: Employers who are unable to operate their business in a way that provides a foreign worker with employment as stated in the offer of employment (i.e., work hours, schedule, location, etc.) should keep records that may help demonstrate justification for non-compliance. Employers should retain any documents that help demonstrate that they were unable to perform a service or fulfill a contract or that they were generally out of operation due to the unforeseen circumstances of this crisis situation. Relevant documents may include, but are not limited to, photos of fire damage, copies of insurance claims, evacuation notices or any documents that speak to affected areas.




Students




Study permit extensions: Under condition 4, the Public Policy exempts foreign nationals in Canada who have been directly affected by the crisis situation and had valid status and a valid study permit on July 7, 2017, from the requirement to apply for a renewal of a study permit before the expiration of the study permit until the expiry of these special measures [R217(10)(a)]. Under condition 3 of the Public Policy, eligible foreign nationals are also exempted from the active enrolment or study conditions that apply to study permit holders under subsection R220.1(1), as well as from the prescribed invalidity/expiry of a study permit 90 days after the permit holder completes their studies or on the day the permit expires [R220.1(1), R222(1)(a) and (c)].

Unauthorized study: Under condition 4, the Public Policy authorizes officers to issue a study permit extension to an eligible foreign national who has engaged in unauthorized work or study in Canada or has failed to comply with the conditions of a previous permit or authorization if the foreign national has been directly affected by the crisis situation and had valid status and a valid study permit on July 7, 2017 [exemption to R200(3)(e)].

Affected designated learning institutions: Under condition 5, the Public Policy exempts temporary residents authorized to study in Canada as of July 7, 2017, at a designated learning institution that was directly affected by the crisis situation from the conditions that apply to study permit holders [R220.1(1)]. Their continuous enrolment at a designated learning institution until the completion of their studies is not required, and they do not have to be actively pursuing their course or program of study.

Letters of acceptance: Study permit holders are encouraged to wait until they receive their letter of acceptance from their designated learning institution before applying for their study permit extension. However, applications for restoration of status as a student can be processed without the letter of acceptance, but not without a valid passport or travel document.

Study permit holders with work authorizations: The special measures do not change the provisions of paragraphs R186(f), (v) and (w). Therefore, as currently required under the IRPR,

  • students who were enrolled in full-time studies at the time of the crisis and whose semester was interrupted as a result of the crisis are still considered to be enrolled “full time”;
  • the period of time that foreign students cannot attend their designated learning institution because it was affected by the crisis situation is considered an extension of their regularly scheduled break;
  • affected foreign students who are eligible to work on and off campus, including new full-time students arriving for their first semester, are authorized to work full time until their institution is functional, regardless of whether they were studying or on a regularly scheduled break at the time they became affected by the crisis situation.

Post-graduation work permit: The special measures do not change the requirements or procedures of the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. However, foreign students who make an application for a post-graduation work permit and have been affected by the crisis situation are exempted from the requirements to hold a valid study permit upon application and to submit their application within 90 days of the completion of their program of study under condition 5 of the Public Policy.

Visitor records for students not requiring a study permit: In assessing visitor record extensions for affected students, officers should use their discretion and judgment in cases where a foreign national enrolled in a course or program of study of six months or less [authorized to study without a study permit under paragraph R188(c)] was unable to complete their course or program of study within the period of stay authorized upon their initial entry due to the crisis situation and requires an extension to complete the course or program. However, the special measures do not change the requirements under paragraph R188(c).




Special program measures for protected persons




Affected protected person: To identify themselves as “affected persons”, applicants must provide an explanation of their situation. This may be in the form of a signed letter with their application (an attestation), accompanied by acceptable proof (as applicable) of how they have been directly affected by the crisis situation, such as a government-issued identity document (original or copy) showing temporary or permanent residence in an affected area or a hotel bill or receipt showing the institution’s address located in the affected area.

Refugee protection claimant document replacement: Affected refugee claimants should inquire about a replacement refugee protection claimant document (RPCD) by emailing IRCC at the dedicated email address in the “Contacting IRCC” section of these instructions. The location of the client’s file will be determined and arrangements made for the client to report to that office or to their nearest IRCC office in person. A certified photocopy of the original RPCD on file may be provided. There is no fee for the replacement of a RPCD.

Refugee travel document replacement: To request replacement refugee travel documents, affected protected persons must follow standard procedures. However, the processing fee should not be charged to the applicant.



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