Backgrounder - Frequently Asked Questions: Special Immigration Measures in Response to the Earthquake in Haiti

N.B.: Contact information that is inaccurate or no longer in use has been removed from this page.

General Information

Q1. Who can apply for priority processing?

Effective immediately, priority processing will be available to those in the following categories who identify themselves as being directly and significantly affected by the earthquake in Haiti:

  • New and existing sponsorship applications from Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have close family members directly affected by this disaster in Haiti (specifically, spouses, common-law and conjugal partners, dependent or adoptive children, parents, grandparents and orphaned family members (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren under 18 years) within the meaning of the Family Class);
  • New and existing applications for permanent residence in Canada in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class and Protected Persons including those family members directly and significantly affected by this disaster;
  • New and existing applications for citizenship certificates (proof of citizenship);
  • In-Canada applications to extend temporary resident status; and
  • In-Canada applications for a work permit for those individuals from Haiti who are now unable to support themselves. Applicants are exempt from the requirement for a Labour Market Opinion from Service Canada.

As capacity for immigration services resumes at the visa office in Port-au-Prince, more information will be provided. Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

Q2. How can I be assured that my application will be processed as a priority?

It remains the applicant or sponsor’s responsibility to demonstrate that the applicant is directly and significantly affected by the situation. New sponsorship applications should have “Haiti” written prominently on the mailing envelope. For what to do about applications already in the system, please see below.

Q3. How can I demonstrate on my application that I or a family member is significantly affected by the earthquake?

These decisions are made on a case by case basis and depend on individual circumstances. Sponsors and applicants presently in Canada who have applications in process should notify the CIC Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday) or by email to identify their existing applications, if they or the family they have sponsored have been directly and significantly affected. Email inquiries should include any pertinent information on the application and relatives being sponsored.

Q4. How soon can I expect my application to be processed?

CIC is working to process applications as quickly as possible. However, the Embassy of Canada has been affected by the earthquake and services are extremely limited. While CIC has begun to issue permanent resident visas, there are still many cases to process and finalize. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide an estimate on how long it will take to process your application.

If you have already applied, you should not go the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince unless you have been specifically instructed to do so by CIC officials. Showing up at the Embassy will not cause your application to be expedited.

Applicants should instead contact their sponsors in Canada about their visa, who may contact the CIC Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email.

Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the visa office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

Haitians outside of their home country seeking a temporary resident visa may apply to any Canadian visa office.

Permanent Residence Applications

Q5. How can I apply to sponsor a close family member?

Family sponsorship applications should be sent to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga.

New sponsorship applications should have “Haiti” prominently written on the mailing envelope to receive priority handling. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to demonstrate that his or her family member is directly and significantly affected by the situation.

For further information, please consult the website.

Q6. How can I verify the status of a permanent residence or sponsorship application of a family member in Haiti?

There are two ways to check the status of an application:

  • use the e-Client Application Status service on our website, or
  • if you are in Canada, contact our Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email. Email inquiries should include any pertinent information on the application and relatives being sponsored.

Q7. Where are Haitian nationals supposed to submit a permanent resident application?

New family class sponsorships can be initiated by family in Canada as per the usual process. “Haiti” should be written clearly on the envelope.

New skilled work applications will continue to be accepted in our office in Sydney (Centralised Intake office).

Family class

Q8. Who is considered family class?

Family Class members are defined in part 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Members of the Family Class can be sponsored to come to Canada on the basis of their relationship to their Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsor in Canada.

The Family Class applicant must be the sponsor’s:

  • spouse, common-law or conjugal partner;
  • dependent child, including a child adopted abroad;
  • child under 18 to be adopted in Canada;
  • parent or grandparent; or
  • orphaned family member under 18 years who is a brother, sister, niece, nephew or grandchild and not a spouse or common-law partner.

Q9. Why isn’t CIC expanding the definition of family class to include other relatives such as siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles?

A. CIC’s first priority is to support Canadians and their close relatives, especially children, to reunite immediate families in Canada.

As such, spouses, common-law and conjugal partners, dependent children (including a child adopted abroad), parents and grandparents and orphaned family members (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or grandchildren under 18) are considered immediate family members under Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and will be given priority processing.

The Family Class defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is one of the most generous definitions of family in the world for immigrant receiving countries.

Adoptions

Q10. Will adoption cases also be expedited?

Yes. Because adopted children are included in the Family Class they will be processed as a priority.

Persons thinking about initiating an adoption should check CIC’s website for more information about international adoption. They may also contact the Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email.

Q11. What arrangements are being made to care for the arriving children?

A medical team is on every flight and CIC has made arrangements with hospitals to care for any children who arrive in Canada requiring medical care. We are also working with the Public Health Agency of Canada in the event that any arrivals must be quarantined. CIC must protect the health and safety of the Canadian public.

Applications for Temporary Residence

Q12. Who can apply to come to Canada temporarily?

Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the visa office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

Q13. Can another person apply on my behalf if I am in Haiti and cannot get to the visa office?

Applicants must complete the application, but another individual may submit it on their behalf. At this time, the Canadian Embassy is not able to accept applications.

Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the visa office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

Existing applications

Q14. What about people who have already submitted sponsorship applications from Haiti? How can they be assured their applications will be given priority?

Sponsors and in-Canada permanent residence applicants whose applications include people residing in Haiti who have been directly and significantly affected by the situation should notify the Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email. Email inquiries should include any pertinent information on the application and relatives being sponsored.

This information will be forwarded to the appropriate Case Processing Centre or local office, which will retrieve the application and take appropriate action.

Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the visa office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

Q15. I was not affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, but I have submitted an application for temporary or permanent residence. What should I do?

If you have shown that you have been directly and significantly affected by the situation in Haiti, you will qualify to have your application expedited.

Until further notice, applicants normally serviced by the visa office in Port-au-Prince should send their applications to other offices – find out more.

New skilled work applications will continue to be accepted in our office in Sydney (Centralised Intake office).

Nationals from Haiti in Canada

Q16. I have temporary resident status (e.g., a study permit, work permit or temporary resident visa) which is due to expire shortly. What should I do?

Temporary residents already in Canada may apply to extend their temporary status according to normal procedures, and these applications will be considered on an expedited basis. Fees associated with these applications will be waived.

Should temporary residents identify a hardship due to the situation in Haiti, CIC will consider this as an additional factor within existing guidelines.

Persons who have already submitted an application to extend their temporary resident status will benefit from keeping that status until a decision is made and they are notified.

For existing in-Canada applications, applicants may contact the Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email. The Call Centre will notify the Case Processing Centre and these applications will then be processed on a priority basis.

Q17. Are removals to Haiti continuing?

A temporary suspension of removals is already in place for Haiti. A suspension of removals is put in place when a country’s general conditions (for example, war or a natural disaster) put the safety of the general population at risk.

When a suspension of removals is in place, most people who would normally be returned to their home countries are allowed to stay in Canada until the suspension of removals is lifted.

In the case of Haiti, this now applies to all removals.

Screening

Q18. Will background check requirements be waived for people applying from Haiti?

No. All applicants must meet the standard admissibility requirements. We are working closely with our partners to expedite this process.

Q19. Will medical requirements be waived for people applying from Haiti?

No. People will still be required to meet medical requirements.

Q20. I have already applied for an extension of my status in Canada. What should I do?

You can check processing times on CIC’s website. If processing of your application is taking longer than the time lines indicate on the website, you can contact the Call Centre (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday), or by email. Email inquiries should include any pertinent information on the application and relatives being sponsored.

Fees

Q21. Is CIC waiving processing fees for permanent residence applications?

No, fees for family class permanent residence applications are not being waived.

Q22. Is CIC waiving processing fees for extending temporary status?

Yes, fees for extending temporary status in Canada are being waived. The fees for work permits and study permits are also being waived for those who are in Canada. Work permits will be exempt from the need for labour market opinions from Service Canada.

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