COVID-19 has drastically changed how Refugee and Immigration matters are processed or handled.
Few people could have predicted how COVID-19 would impact Canada including government agencies, courts as well as individuals dealing with their Immigration or Refugee matters.
On March 16, 2020, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, announced travel restriction measures that would restrict air travel to Canadians, permanent residents and families of Canadians.
On March 16, 2020, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the Tribunal who hears Immigration and Refugee appeals, detention reviews, Admissibility hearings and refugee matters announced that it would Postpone in-person hearings and mediations except for detention reviews until April 5, 2020.
The Board subsequently extended on March 20, 2020, the postponements until May 4, 2020.
On March 17, 2020, the Federal Court announced that all hearings that were scheduled between March 17 and April 17, 2020 would be adjourned except for limited exceptions.
On March 20, 2020, some exemptions to the air travel restrictions were announced.
Refugee claimant’s who entered from the United States during this time and who want to claim asylum will be sent back to the United States of America. Furthermore, until April 13, 2020, Canada would no longer interview refugee claimants in person or process refugee protection claimant document renewals in person. Although, individuals who were already in Canada before the crisis and who wish to initiate a claim can do so by email at this time.
The Canada Border Services Agency has halted most deportations of foreign nationals for now.
For applicant’s outside of Canada the government announced that it would automatically give up to 90 days of additional time to complete any required steps for their application including biometrics, medicals and any other requirement.
All Citizenship events have been cancelled across Canada until April 13, 2020.
Some are now stating that these measures can be extended well beyond April or May 2020.
Although, it might seem that this will go on forever and that people are severely impacted by these measures including economically It is important to remember that these measures are temporary.
Furthermore, applications aren’t being denied due to COVID-19. In fact, the government agencies who handle Immigration and Refugee matters have been quite understanding in these challenging times.
Therefore, be patient and more importantly for now just ensure that you all stay safe and take the necessary precautions.
Fore more information the following link might be of assistance: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19.html