ARCHIVED – Notice – Update: Priority Processing Measures in Haiti (May 25, 2010)

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May 25, 2010 — The Government of Canada is committed to reuniting families affected by the earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010, as quickly as possible.

Operation Stork was the initial priority for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Under this initiative CIC helped reunite 203 Haitian children with their adoptive parents in Canada. Almost as many children arrived in Canada in three weeks as would normally have arrived in two years.

CIC is now focussing its efforts on processing all other Haiti Special Measures (HSM) family sponsorship applications. (HSM family class refers to applications for permanent residence under the Family Class, Humanitarian and Compassionate Family Class, Refugee Dependants Abroad, and In Canada Refugees categories.) To help accelerate visa processing, CIC has strengthened processing capacity and added dedicated staff in Ottawa and in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Family Class Application

In keeping with our commitment to family re-unification, spouses/partners and dependent children fall within our highest processing priority, as do vulnerable individuals and other exceptional cases which deserve immediate attention. In addition, the humanitarian and compassionate applications submitted in Canada prior to January 12, 2010, will also benefit from expedited processing.

Progress to date

  • Prior to the earthquake, there were applications for about 1,800 Haitians in the family class inventory awaiting a decision from CIC. We committed to making an initial assessment of all these applications by April 30th—assessing whether the applicants were eligible and whether an interview would be required. This target has been met and all these applications have received an initial assessment and those determinations were made.
  • By May 15th, a decision was rendered in 49 per cent (899 people) of these applications. Some people were issued a temporary resident visa or permit to allow them to come to Canada while their applications are being finalized. In a few cases, applications were withdrawn by the applicant or sponsor.
  • Reflecting our commitment to processing applications for spouses and children in particular, a decision had already been rendered in 62 per cent (518 people) and 63 per cent (125 people) of these categories respectively. We are committed to processing the remaining pre-earthquake family class applications by June 30th. Under the HSM Program, CIC has processed triple the number of HSM family class applicants it would have under normal operating circumstances, even though our office in Haiti sustained damage during the earthquake.
  • Since the earthquake, CIC has received applications for almost 950 HSM family class persons (those with Haitian citizenship showing Haiti as their last country of permanent residence). The applications received immediately after the earthquake will see a decision rendered by June 30th, and those received more recently (after April 1) will have a decision within 12 weeks of the department receiving an application.
  • As of May 15th, some 525 permanent resident visas were issued to Haitians, with over half being for HSM family class applicants (296). Over 1,000 temporary resident visas (for visitors, students and temporary foreign workers) and close to 400 temporary resident permits were also issued.

Note: CIC can only complete processing of an application within the identified processing timelines, if both the sponsorship application and the application(s) for permanent residence have been received and are complete. The required documents include the completed application, processing fees, supporting documentation (where available), and medical results. Early compliance is crucial to ensuring the application is processed within 12 weeks of receipt.

Quebec Special Measures

The Province of Quebec introduced new regulatory measures to facilitate sponsorship of people who were seriously and personally affected by the earthquake in Haiti. CIC is working closely with Quebec on this program. The measures apply to people who would otherwise qualify under the federal family class, but do not meet the financial requirements of sponsorship.

Quebec is allowing the applicant to add a co-signor to the sponsorship application, who is not spouse or common-law partner of the sponsor in order to meet the threshold. These applications will be afforded the same priority processing by CIC as other family class applicants from Haiti.

The Quebec measures also allow humanitarian sponsorships of children over the age of 22 as well as brothers and sisters and their accompanying spouses and children. Quebec is also allowing the addition of a co-signer who is a resident of Quebec on these cases. These applications will be processed by CIC as soon as possible after priority cases – namely children, spouses, parents and grandparents – have been cleared. Quebec has indicated they will accept up to 3,000 persons as extended family members.

Before CIC can process any of these cases, they must be assessed by Quebec and issued a Certificate of Selection for Québec (CSQ). As of May 15th, CIC had received 1 CSQs from applicants under the Quebec Special Measures.

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, you will help CIC to better serve you and everyone else, as Embassy staff would be able to focus on processing applications from persons with qualified sponsors.

Please ensure that contact information for you and your family members is up‑to‑date.

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