Notice – Update: Priority Processing Measures in Haiti (April 1, 2010)

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

April 1, 2010 — The Government of Canada is committed to helping reunite families affected by the earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince as quickly as possible. Despite damage to the Embassy, CIC processing of Haiti applications has more than doubled in the two months after the earthquake compared to 2009, and will continue to increase.

Cases involving dependents of successful refugee claimants

Successful refugee claimants in Canada will be processed quickly. Their spouses and children who are in Haiti will be given early admission, where appropriate, in order to reunite families more quickly.

Sponsorship cases submitted before the earthquake on January 12

We are making every effort to make a preliminary decision, and notify applicants whether an interview is required, by the end of April in all cases where we had received completed applications before the earthquake. This represents approximately 1,000 applications for about 1,500 people.

It may take some additional time to conduct medical and background screening for some of these applicants. Urgent cases involving vulnerable people will continue to receive priority processing by the Embassy.

By the end of June 2010, we expect to have made a final decision on the vast majority of the applications submitted before the earthquake. This means that CIC would be processing in six months what normally would take about 23 months (for 80 per cent of all cases).

Sponsorship cases submitted after the earthquake on January 12

To date, over 2,200 applications for more than 3,300 people received after the earthquake are in various stages of being processed.

For all cases where we have received both a completed sponsorship and permanent resident application since the earthquake, we aim to make a preliminary decision within four weeks of receipt. If required, interviews will be held within eight weeks from the preliminary decision, and in most cases, a final decision will be made shortly thereafter.

This is because it may take some additional time to conduct medical and background screening for some of these applicants. Urgent cases involving vulnerable people will continue to receive priority processing by the Embassy.

For example, for completed sponsorship and permanent resident applications received by April 30, we expect to have held an interview and either have made or be about to make a final decision on most of the cases by the end of July 2010.

We encourage you to promptly respond to CIC if you have been contacted about your case so that priority processing may continue.

Further, we are asking all applicants — not just for sponsorships of spouses and dependent children — to submit both the sponsorship application and an application for permanent residence at the same time. We will be contacting applicants to ensure they are aware they must submit both applications. This change will allow us to process applications faster.

New procedures for applications

We have changed how applications are processed so that family members in Canada, as well as applicants in Haiti, may fill out permanent resident applications and return them to us as quickly as possible. This is important because without both a sponsorship and a permanent resident application, applications cannot be processed.

Applicants should submit the sponsorship and permanent resident applications, with as many appropriate supporting documents as available, and ensure that their contact information is up-to-date. All of the forms and a list of required documents are available on this site.

If two attempts to contact an applicant are made and there is no response, the application will be put on hold until the applicant contacts us again. Once contact has been made with CIC, processing will resume within expedited timelines as long as the special measures are in place.

To further expedite processing of applications with incomplete documentation, and to make it easier to identify family members, sponsors can have DNA tests to establish family relationships. There was an established process for such testing in place in Haiti before the earthquake and testing recently resumed, with 12 people being tested on March 23, 2010. Sponsors who wish to utilize this method to establish relationships are encouraged to advise CIC.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can, if they qualify, help family in Haiti by submitting a sponsorship application to CPC-Mississauga here in Canada. Priority processing is also available for new and existing applications for permanent residence in Canada in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class and for Protected Persons, including those family members directly and significantly affected by this disaster. Sponsors should submit permanent resident applications for their family members at the same time, with the appropriate documents.

Please advise your family members in Haiti that they should not approach the Embassy in Port-au-Prince until they are called to do so. By respecting this, it will help everyone as Embassy staff would be able to focus on processing applications from persons with qualified sponsors.

Please ensure that your and your family members’ contact information is up-to-date.

Applicants should not to go the Embassy of Canada unless instructed

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.

Medical examinations

Please note that only sponsored spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may take their medical exams when submitting an application for permanent residence.

All others should only schedule a medical examination when instructed to do so by CIC officials. If you take your medical examination before receiving instructions from CIC officials, you will have to take another medical examination at your own expense.

Update on special immigration measures

  • In the two months since the earthquake, there has been a 109 per cent increase in visas issued overall, which is remarkable given the damage to the Embassy from the earthquake. In many cases, paper files could not even be accessed until the end of February due to damage from the earthquake.
  • As of March 27, over 2,100 people have come to Canada under the special measures. Among these are the more than 200 Haitian children destined to their adoptive Canadian parents.
    • Over 1,700 temporary resident visas and permits have been issued, the majority of which were to people accompanying Canadian citizens being evacuated from Haiti.
    • A total of 311 permanent resident visas have been issued. More visas will be issued in the coming weeks and months.
    • In addition, 104 people who had a permanent residence application in process were given early admission to Canada in order to complete the application process here.
  • About 1,000 applications for 1,500 people received before the earthquake are being processed. In addition, over 2,200 applications for more than 3,300 people received after the earthquake are also being processed.
  • Medical examination facilities for people coming to Canada became available again as of March 8, 2010. Since then, we have received medical examination results for 234 persons. This is one of the key steps in the immigration process.
  • Interviews for immigration purposes resumed at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti on March 4, 2010.
  • On January 15, CIC ARCHIVED – announced that Canada was temporarily suspending the visa requirement for aid workers and evacuees from Haiti transiting through Canadian airports. This measure ended on March 15. The final number of non-commercial aircraft that came under this measure is:
    • A total of 82 non-commercial aircraft have transited Gander for technical stops and/or refuelling in response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
    • Of the 82 non-commercial aircraft, 17 aircraft carried 146 passengers that would normally require transit visas and who, therefore, benefitted from the public policy.
  • CIC has participated in a number of information sessions for the Haitian community in Montréal, Toronto, Welland, London, Windsor, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Vancouver to provide information on the special immigration measures and on how to sponsor immediate family members who were directly and seriously affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Over 4,100 people attended the information sessions across the country.

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