Operational Bulletin 418 (Modified) – August 26, 2013

Processing of applications for displaced Tibetans in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India

Issue

This Operational Bulletin updates OB 418 published on May 16, 2012 and last updated on June 21, 2013, and provides the guidelines for staff at the local Citizenship and Immigration office in Toronto (CIC St. Clair), as well as visa staff at the Canadian High Commission (CHC) in New Delhi concerning the processing of applications for displaced Tibetans in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India, under the Temporary Public Policy established on March 17, 2011. These applications will be processed similar to those received in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program. This OB provides updates to the Interim Federal Health section now that this group has been granted Public Health or Public Safety Health Care Coverage (PHPSC). It also updates information on how to record the Right of Permanent Residence Fees (RPRF) in GCMS.

Background

On March 17, 2011, the Minister of CIC established the Temporary Public Policy Concerning Tibetans Living in the State of Arunachal Pradesh in India under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The Department engaged the Project Tibet Society (PTS) as the implementation partner for this public policy.

Up to 1,000 displaced Tibetans, including principal applicants and their eligible family members, may be accepted under this public policy. Principal applicants and their eligible family members, whether or not they accompany the principal applicant to Canada, will be counted towards this total.

Role of Project Tibet Society

CIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the PTS in the spring of 2011 to work together in identifying and referring Tibetans in the state of Arunachal Pradesh to immigrate to Canada. The PTS will be responsible for:

  • Identifying applicants for processing;
  • Liaising with applicants and a coordinating organization in India;
  • Acting as an intermediary between private sponsors and CIC;
  • Liaising with sponsors in Canada to facilitate preparation of the sponsorship undertakings;
  • Matching individual applicants with specific sponsors in Canada;
  • Receiving completed sponsorship applications from sponsors in Canada; and
  • Forwarding all completed applications to the responsible local CIC office, CIC St. Clair.

Instructions for CIC St. Clair

CIC St. Clair will receive all sponsorship applications for sponsoring groups wanting to sponsor Tibetans under this public policy, regardless of the location of these groups in Canada. If any other local CIC in Canada should receive a sponsorship for this public policy, they are instructed to send it to CIC St. Clair. CIC St. Clair will receive sponsorship applications from the PTS, not sponsoring groups directly. These groups may be Groups of Five or Settlement organizations.

Groups of Five (G5): any group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are 18 years of age or older and who live in the community where the Tibetan applicant(s) is/are expected to settle.

  • Every member of the Group of Five (G5) must meet the following requirements:
    • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident 18 years of age or older;
    • provide evidence of financial capacity to fulfill the sponsorship undertaking for the duration of the sponsorship period (12 months);
    • provide evidence of settlement capacity to provide emotional and/or social support to a Tibetan applicant and his or her family;
    • be based in the community where the Tibetan(s) are expected to live; and
    • not be in default of a previous undertaking (family class or private sponsorship of refugees).

Settlement organizations: an organization, an association, or a corporation (no need to be incorporated under federal or provincial law).

  • Every Settlement organization must meet the following requirements:
    • must provide immediate settlement support to the sponsored Tibetan and his/or immediate family members for at least a 4-6 week period (may be longer depending on needs of the family) upon arrival in Canada;
    • must have financial capacity (income support equal to provincial social assistance rates minus any in-kind donations) to fulfill the sponsorship undertaking for the duration of the sponsorship period (12 months); and
    • must be based in the community where the Tibetan(s) are expected to live.

Settlement organizations are recommended for Tibetans who need less individual support compared to those sponsored by Groups of Five. PTS may provide advice on such Tibetans, so should it be unclear on the application, CIC St. Clair should contact PTS. While the financial support period is the same for Groups of Five and Settlement organizations (12 months), the settlement support period can be less for Settlement organizations (at least 4-6 weeks). The Settlement organization may also choose to formally partner with an individual (for example, a family member of the sponsored Tibetan living in Canada) and/or another organization in carrying out settlement duties. This partner is called a “co-sponsor”.

Sponsor eligibility and settlement plans

As with PSR applications, CIC St. Clair will assess sponsor eligibility under this public policy. Sponsoring groups will need to meet these eligibility requirements if they are to be approved as sponsors. Refer to the sponsorship guides for both types of groups, Groups of Five and Settlement organizations for further instructions related to assessments of groups’ settlement plans and financial capacity to determine whether they have the ability to provide the required settlement supports for the sponsored Tibetan(s).

Any Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), an incorporated organization that has signed a formal sponsorship agreement with CIC for the purpose of sponsoring refugees under the PSR program may submit the same Settlement Plan specifically designed for them for sponsoring PSRs when applying to sponsor Tibetans referred under this public policy.

Sponsors, whether Groups of Five or Settlement organizations, must complete these sponsorship forms:

Forms

Plus the following:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status for each Group of five member; OR
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status for each party of the sponsorship, including a Settlement organization representative and each co-sponsor, if applicable; and
  • Proof of income documents.

There is no sponsorship fee of $75 to be levied for processing these sponsorship applications.

There are no processing fees to be levied for processing the corresponding applications for permanent residence for Tibetans applicants under this public policy. However, the right of permanent residence fees still apply.

Undertaking for de facto dependants

If the sponsoring group decides to sponsor de facto dependants (see definition below), the group will need to complete a separate Undertaking/Application to sponsor form for each unit of these family members. Please make sure groups list such persons in section D “Multiple Undertakings” of this application. Filling out this section ensures that all linked sponsorships are processed at the same time by the visa office.

CIC St. Clair is also responsible for:

  • Creating the sponsorship file once the sponsorship undertaking has been approved; specific FOSS coding instructions include:
    • for the field QUALIFIER, insert “P01”
    • for the field TYPE OF FILE, insert “TB SPRSHP
    • for the field TYPE under the sponsorship screen, insert “GF” for Groups of five sponsorships and insert “GR” for Settlement organization sponsorships
  • Approving or refusing the sponsorship forms based on specific sponsorship eligibility criteria (see requirements for groups above), or requesting any missing information or documents from the sponsor.
  • Forwarding the approved sponsorship undertaking by scan to the CHC for processing and matching with the appropriate application for permanent residence.
  • Communicating to the sponsor the decision on the application to sponsor within 30 days (copy the PTS on all decisions). If processing is expected to exceed the service standard, the local office is responsible for providing the sponsor with confirmation of receipt of application and estimated time of completion of processing upon request.
  • Providing the sponsor with an update on the status of an application upon request and responding to sponsor enquiries.
  • Monitoring notice of arrival transmissions (NATs) for the arrivals of the Tibetans and immediately notifying the sponsor of arrival information.
  • Mediating between the sponsor and the client in case of a sponsorship breakdown (with the assistance of the PTS).
  • Monitoring the sponsors and sponsored Tibetan(s) to determine if the sponsor is fulfilling its responsibilities (financial and settlement assistance).

Interim Federal Health

Following a Ministerial decision, the Tibetans under this public policy have been granted Public Health or Public Safety Health Care Coverage (PHPSC). This coverage will be provided until they are eligible for provincial or territorial health care coverage, at which time coverage will continue for medications and vaccines needed to prevent or treat a disease posing a risk to public health or to treat a condition of public safety concern for the duration of the private sponsorship (up to one year after landing in Canada).

When issuing IFHP certificates, the issuing local CIC must enter the proper IFHP FOSS code on the Interim Federal Health Certificate of Eligibility screen (HC):

  • Under the “eligibility group” field, officers must enter FOSS code “38” (Minister’s Discretion 5 – print)
  • Under the “valid until” field, officers need to enter the date 12 months after the landing date, less a day (for example, if person lands on July 24, 2013, the valid until date would be 23 July 2014).

Instructions for the CHC

Once the CHC receives the sponsorship application from CIC St. Clair, it will match it with the corresponding application for permanent residence, which should include the following:

There are no processing fees to be levied for processing the application for permanent residence under this Public Policy. However, the right of permanent residence fees still apply.

GCMS coding

  • IMM008: The Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 008) does not provide an appropriate category for this public policy group. Applicants are therefore instructed to select “Refugee” for Question 1 as the program and “Outside Canada – Convention Refugee” for Question 2 as the category under which they are applying.

    If the applicants identify the wrong program or category, the visa office is instructed to manually enter the above program and category into GCMS.

    • For Question 4, ensure that the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, India is selected as the immigration office for the processing of these applications.
    • For Question 9, ensure that “Stateless,” is indicated, unless the Tibetan is a citizen of a country.
    • For Question 10, ensure that “Other” is indicated as the Tibetan’s status in the current country of residence and “Displaced Tibetan” should be in the box to the right. The answers should be the same for the dependants.
  • Special program field: for all these applications, the visa office should enter the special program code of P01 (Tibetan Public Policy) in the special program field in GCMS.
  • Rights of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): Tibetans under this public policy are not exempt from paying the RPRF. GCMS will always code the RPRF fee as 'LXR' (RPRF exempt) when the application Category is equal to 'REF-OVS' (which is the case for applicants applying under this public policy). To override this, the visa officer needs to set the system generated RPRF fee to 'Entered in Error', manually create a new RPRF fee line, and allocate a receipt or enter a value into the Code field to indicate that the fee has been paid. This process is the same regardless as to whether the RPRF are paid by the applicant directly or by way of an immigration loan.

Who can be sponsored?

Sponsoring groups are required to sponsor the principal Tibetan applicant along with all eligible family members, both accompanying and non-accompanying, at the same time that the original undertaking/application is submitted. Eligible family members include:

  • Spouse or common-law partner of the principal applicant; and/or
  • Any dependent children, which are children (biological or adopted) of the principal applicant or those of his or her spouse or common-law partner, and who must:
    • be under the age of 19 and not have a spouse or common-law partner; or,
    • depend substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 19 and be unable to provide for themselves due to a medical condition.
  • Children included in the application must meet the definition of “dependent children” at the time the application is made. Therefore, a person who has turned 19 since the original application was made, and who meets all other requirements, will still qualify as a dependent child.
  • Any dependent children of dependent children: refers to children of dependent children of the principal Tibetan applicant or those of his or her spouse or common-law partner.

De facto dependants

This public policy will allow for concurrent processing and will make all attempts to keep complete households together. Should there be de facto dependants as part of the family unit, they will need to meet the eligibility criteria in their own right. As mentioned above, a separate undertaking application is required for de facto dependants. Similarly, a separate IMM 0008 application for permanent residence must be completed for each de facto dependant. de facto dependants, as other family members, will be counted towards the 1000 person cap.

Determining eligibility and admissibility

Officers are to consider permanent residence in Canada for persons who are displaced Tibetans living in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India who:

  • demonstrate their identity as a displaced Tibetan;
  • have resided in Arunachal Pradesh prior to, and have continued to reside in Arunachal Pradesh since, December 18, 2010 (see note below);
  • are matched with an approved sponsor in Canada through the Project Tibet Society, the umbrella organization that will support implementation of this public policy;
  • are not inadmissible on grounds of security, criminality, war crimes and crimes against humanity, organized crime, health or misrepresentation; and
  • demonstrate their ability to successfully establish in Canada.

Non-accompanying family members

There is a 1,000 person cap to this program and this includes principal applicants and their eligible family members, regardless of whether they accompany the principal applicant or not to Canada. Family members who do not accompany the principal applicant during visa validity may apply under the program so long as the application is received while the public policy is in effect (2011-2016), but they will need to apply as a principal applicant in their own right and submit their own sponsorship.

Benchmark letters

The visa office commits to sending benchmark letters at two specific intervals during the processing of applications:

  • the acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) will be sent to the applicant (and copies to CIC-St. Clair and PTS) when the application is received; and
  • the approval or refusal letter to the applicant (and copies to CIC-St. Clair and PTS) once a final selection decision is made.

Medical examination: the sponsored Tibetan(s) must pay for the cost of the medical exam at the time of the medical examination. The medical costs may not be placed on the immigration loan as is the case for resettled refugees.

Right of Permanent Residence Fee and travel to Canada

As mentioned in the GCMS section above, the RPRF applies for this group. This fee of $490 for adult applicants (dependent children exempted) must be paid before the visa is issued. This fee and travel costs to Canada can be placed on the immigration loan if required.

Notice of arrival transmission (NAT)

Other than sending the NAT directly to the CIC St. Clair, and not the Matching Centre, the visa office is asked to use the same procedures for sending NATs as it would in PSR cases as described in OP 5, section 21.

Communication with the PTS, sponsors and NHQ

The PTS will be the email point of contact for CHC for all specific questions related to both the sponsorship application and application for permanent residence. Sponsors should also be copied on these queries. CHC may also copy the OMC mailbox on selected queries requiring NHQ’s attention.

Managing the inventory

Managing the inventory will be a shared responsibility between PTS, CHC, CIC St. Clair and NHQ-OMC.

The visa office will count applications received, cases selected and visas issued, and report these figures to NHQ once per quarter. This count will also report numbers of any non-accompanying family members as these persons count towards the 1,000 cap for this public policy.

NHQ-OMC will have the overall responsibility for keeping track of the 1,000 cap, and will request landing statistics once per quarter from OMC-Stats as a means to track how many Tibetans are landed in Canada.

Note:

This residency criteria can be met by a displaced Tibetan who has left the Arunachal Pradesh settlement he or she has previously resided, but who has maintained permanent resident status by returning to the settlement at least once a year and was registered with the Welfare Bureau of the settlement on December 18, 2010 and has continued to be registered since that date.

Date Modified: