This edition of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Newsletter includes the following:
- IRCC initiative to speed up spousal application process for couples
- Gradual reopening of some IRCC offices
- New processes introduced to support greater family reunification and entry for compassionate reasons
- IRCC increases points under Express Entry for French-speaking and bilingual candidates
- Did you know...?
- Upcoming events and important dates
IRCC initiative to speed up spousal application process for couples
In October, IRCC announced measures to speed up the process for spousal applications for permanent residence.
The number of employees working as decision makers on spousal applications has increased by 66%. This will shorten the wait time for couples waiting for a decision on their application to be reduced, so that spouses can be reunited sooner in Canada.
IRCC has also launched a pilot to digitize paper applications, which takes advantage of new, more efficient technology to support employees processing applications remotely. With these 2 initiatives, IRCC aims to finalize around 6,000 spousal applications every month from October to December 2020.
IRCC is also piloting technology to conduct interviews with applicants remotely, to adhere to public health social-distancing protocols.
Family reunification remains a priority for the department, and this new measure aims to support and speed up the overall process for couples.
Gradual reopening of some IRCC offices
IRCC has worked hard to adapt to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining client service and prioritizing the health and safety of its clients and employees.
Where possible, IRCC has moved to deliver services virtually, and continues to look for innovative solutions to serve clients. For services that have no virtual alternative, IRCC is addressing the workload while following guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as provincial and local public health guidelines.
Beginning on September 21, 2020, some IRCC offices in Vancouver, Etobicoke, Montréal, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Niagara Falls started reopening for limited, selected services to clients by appointment only—and with a number of safety measures in place, including plexiglass barriers and upgraded sanitizing procedures. As well, clients are asked to fill out a Health Canada self-assessment both ahead of their appointment and when they arrive at the IRCC office. Social distancing and mask-wearing are also being enforced.
IRCC continues to monitor the offices where in-person services are offered to help plan for reopening services more widely in the future.
New processes introduced to support greater family reunification and entry for compassionate reasons
Since Canada put in place travel restrictions in March 2020 to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many families have been feeling the pain of being separated from their loved ones overseas.
To support greater family reunification, the Government introduced a new process on October 8, 2020, to allow entry for extended family members of Canadian citizens, people registered as Indians under Canada’s Indian Act and permanent residents. See IRCC’s website for more information on
- who is considered an extended family member
- what extended family members needs to do to come to Canada, including
- obtaining a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA), if required
- having their extended family member complete and sign the statutory declaration
- getting written authorization from IRCC
- including providing the completed and signed statutory declaration and proof that their extended family member is a Canadian citizen, person registered as an Indian under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident, and they are staying in the country for 15 days or more
In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) created a new process to allow foreign nationals to enter Canada for compassionate reasons, including
- being present during the final moments of life of a loved one
- providing support to a person deemed critically ill
- providing care to a person who medically requires support, and
- attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony
Visit PHAC’s website for more information on how to get authorization to travel to and enter Canada.
- News release: Government introduces new border measures to protect Canadian public health, provides update on travel restrictions
- Backgrounder: Update on travel restriction exemptions for extended family members and for compassionate reasons
- Backgrounder: Update on travel restriction exemptions for international students
IRCC increases points under Express Entry for French-speaking and bilingual candidates
On October 27, 2020, IRCC announced that French-speaking and bilingual candidates will receive additional points under Express Entry, the system used to manage applications for permanent residence from skilled workers. This change will help deliver on the Government’s commitment to reach the target of 4.4% French-speaking immigrant admissions outside Quebec by 2023.
Minority francophone communities remain a priority for IRCC, and by awarding extra points to candidates with strong French-language skills, the department hopes to see an increase in the proportion of French-speaking immigrants admitted outside of Quebec.
- News release: Additional points in Express Entry to help increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec
- Francophone immigration – Express Entry
- Francophone immigration (outside Quebec)
Did you know...?
- The B2B Virtual Fair on December 2, 2020, will provide Canadian employers with access to resources for recruiting qualified French-speaking workers. It’s a great opportunity to meet and chat with representatives of IRCC, Canadian embassies and public employment agencies abroad.
- Flu season is upon us! It’s best to get the flu shot between October and December, so that you are protected during the height of the flu season. It can take up to 2 weeks for your body to build protection against the flu once you are vaccinated. So get the flu shot early to protect yourself, your family and your community! Talk to a health-care professional or visit Canada.ca/flu for more information on symptoms and risks, and precautions to take this flu season.
- The ArriveCAN app, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency, will become mandatory as of November 21, 2020. Travellers are required to use the iOS, Android or web version of the app prior to arriving in Canada to provide their basic traveller information, as required by recent emergency orders under the Quarantine Act.
- On October 13, 2020, IRCC opened the 2020 parent and grandparent interest to sponsor form online. The sponsor form was available for 3 weeks, from October 13 to November 3. Once IRCC has reviewed the submissions, potential sponsors will be randomly selected and will be invited via email to submit their applications later this year or early in 2021.
Upcoming events and important dates
November 2020 marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of Operation Syrian Refugee, Canada’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Private sponsors, non-governmental organizations and provincial, territorial and municipal governments worked together to welcome more than 25,000 Syrian refugees over the span of 100 days from November 2015 to February 2016.
December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. On this day, we remember the victims and take action against misogyny, sexism and hate.
December 11 marks the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, a 1931 act of the British Parliament by which Canada gained formal recognition of its autonomy from the United Kingdom.
International Migrants Day is observed on December 18 and presents an opportunity to recognize all migrants’ contributions to their home and host countries.
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