Operational Bulletin 179A – June 29, 2010

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This Operational Bulletin has expired.

Special Measures in Response to the Earthquake in Haiti

This bulletin replaces OB 179.


On January 12, 2010 a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck Haiti and was followed by subsequent aftershocks. The earthquake and its aftershocks have resulted in devastation in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. The Embassy of Canada has been damaged and services are limited. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is currently working with its partners to resume visa and immigration services as soon as possible.

These guidelines apply to those who self-identify as being directly and significantly affected by the January 12th earthquake in Haiti.

Priority Processing (General)

Effective immediately, priority processing will be available for the following:

  • New and existing sponsorship applications from Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have close relatives (as defined in R117(1)) in Haiti; (guidance regarding priority processing for permanent residence for non-adoption cases is addressed in OB 179B; and for permanent residence for adoption cases in OB 179C)
  • New and existing applications for permanent residence in the Spouse or Common-law Partner in-Canada Class, and Protected Persons including those family members (as defined in R1(3)) directly affected by this disaster in their application;
  • New and existing applications for citizenship certificates (proof of citizenship);
  • In-Canada applications to extend temporary resident status;
  • In-Canada applications for a work permit (WP) for those individuals from Haiti who are now unable to support themselves; the Minister has approved a public policy exempting these applicants from the requirement for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) (use LMO exemption code HSM).

Processing of Haiti Special Measures (HSM)

HSM pertains more specifically to the priority processing of the permanent resident applications stated above, which will be conducted on a case-by-case basis. CIC will process both new and existing cases with equal priority, as all of these cases are identified as being under the Haiti Special Measures (HSM). Three types of priority workloads have been defined:

1. Cases with applications [note 1] received pre-earthquake will be cleared by June 30th, 2010.

These are cases [note 2] that meet federal priority categories that were in the Port-au-Prince office inventory on January 12, 2010. CIC is actively reviewing these files, and within four weeks of starting a file review, CIC will determine whether an interview is required. If an interview is waived, CIC will aim to provide the client with the appropriate document: temporary resident visa (TRV); temporary resident permit (TRP); permanent resident visa (PRV); or a negative decision, within four weeks. If an interview is required, it will be scheduled and held within 8 weeks of the notification that an interview is required. At the end of that timeframe, the client will be in possession of the appropriate document (TRV/TRP/PRV) or a negative decision will be rendered. CIC will aim to achieve this 80% of the time.

2. Cases received post-earthquake will be processed under two cohorts.  Those cases that are received between January 12 and March 31, 2010 that fall under the HSM will be cleared by June 30, 2010.

These are cases that meet federal priority categories that were received after the earthquake on January 12, but before April 1, 2010.  CIC is actively reviewing these files, and CIC will aim to provide the client with the appropriate document (TRV/TRP/PRV) or a negative decision, by June 30, 2010, The goal is to achieve this 100% of the time, but operational experience tells us that various factors will place us at approximately 80% (eg. medical furtherance or client compliance in a timely manner).

3. Cases received post-earthquake that are received on or after April 1, 2010 that fall under the HSM will be cleared within 12 weeks of receipt by CIC.

These are cases that meet federal priority categories that were received on or after April 1, 2010. CIC is actively reviewing these files, and CIC will aim to provide the client with the appropriate document (TRV/TRP/PRV) or a negative decision, within 12 weeks of receipt of the application,  The goal is to achieve this 100% of the time, but operational experience tells us that various factors will place us at approximately 80% (eg. medical furtherance or client compliance in a timely manner).

In all three priority workloads, CIC’s commitment to clear files is dependent upon client compliance, specifically as it relates to the completion of immigration medical examinations, payment of fees and/or DNA testing. To ensure this does not hinder the processing of other applications, if an applicant has not completed their immigration medical exam within four weeks of being notified of this requirement, CIC will withdraw their application. If the client completes their immigration medical exam and submits proof to OHPO within the next 90 days, CIC will reopen the file and resume processing. CIC will assign a new application date to these cases, specifically the date that the file is reopened. The same process will apply to applicants who are required to complete DNA testing and pay the right of permanent residence fee.

All other cases not covered under HSM will be determined at a later date. 

Highest priority will continue to be given to HSM cases, although should a permanent resident application not covered by the HSM be ready for visa issuance, CIC will issue documents to ensure clearances do not expire.

As noted above, CIC will start to expedite the process at the time an application is received. Detailed procedures are outlined in OB 179 B, but CIC will modify its procedures wherever possible to ensure expeditious processing of HSM cases. This includes the fast-track of sponsorship applications at CPC-Mississauga to ensure the creation of a file, and the creation of the Ottawa Haiti Processing Office (OHPO) for expedited processing of these cases.

All standard admissibility and citizenship requirements must still be initiated, and where indicators for criminality and security admissibility requirements would ordinarily result in a referral. A response will be returned within 12-24 hours with either a clearance or a hold. It is expected that the majority of cases will be cleared in this timeline.

Normal Immigration medical examination (IME) procedures in Haiti resumed on March 8, 2010. Designated medical practitioners in Haiti are available to respond to clients with appropriate documentation, as well as those current immigration clients who are requested to have a chest x-ray for the purposes of extending the medical validity certificate. If there is a medical furtherance, a second decision will be taken by an officer in consultation with a senior officer as to whether to facilitate the case by allowing the applicant forward under early admission procedures for treatment in Canada. For those classes of HSM applicants not requiring a pre-departure IME, Port of Entry (POE) Officers will follow their standard procedures for determining if quarantine services or IME are required in Canada.

At any point in the process, if CIC needs to contact the applicant, two attempts will be made to contact the applicant and two attempts to contact the sponsor. If no contact can be established with either the applicant or the sponsor, the application will be withdrawn until either the applicant or sponsor contacts CIC and indicates a desire to resume the process. CIC will retire these files one year from the end of the HSM, or sooner if so determined.

Program Delivery

Overseas Processing:

The Embassy of Canada has been damaged by the recent earthquake and the services that they are able to offer continue to be limited. For HSM cases, the Embassy in Port-au-Prince through OHPO will receive applications, conduct interviews, issue medicals, and issue visas upon completion of file processing. Applications that fall under the HSM will be given priority processing.

At this time, applications that do not fall under the HSM will not be considered for priority processing. In cases where a person submits a TRV application to the visa office in Port-au-Prince or Santo Domingo, officers will consider whether HSM considerations apply. If a TRV applicant is vulnerable or at risk, they can be considered for priority processing.

Citizens or residents from countries other than Haiti who are normally served by the office in Port-au-Prince must submit applications to the office in Port of Spain, with the exception of citizens or persons lawfully admitted to the Dominican Republic, who must submit their applications to the office in Santo Domingo. The paper files of Dominican Republic applicants whose cases were already in process in Port-au-Prince have been recovered and have been transferred to Santo Domingo.

To support the visa posts and our consular colleagues, CPC-Sydney has implemented direct access email for verification of Canadian citizenship status and/or permanent resident status. This also includes photo verification from previous records.

In Canada processing:

Effective immediately, only those in-Canada applications identified in the section entitled “Priority Processing” will be processed on a priority basis following self-identification by the client. New applications should have ‘Haiti’ written on the mailing envelope. For existing applications, the sponsor or applicant must notify the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 or by email at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca.

For any case enquiries, clients are to be referred to the Call Centre to ensure consistency in processing and must provide information regarding their application and their relatives in Haiti (including the Handling Public Money (HPM) receipt number. This information will be forwarded to the OHPO, appropriate CPC, or local inland office, where they will respond to requests on a case-by-case basis.

Ottawa Haiti Processing Office (OHPO)

Responsible for processing the immigration applications for members of the family class, after the sponsorship eligibility assessment has been completed at CPC-Mississauga. OHPO will also process immigration applications for dependents of protected persons (DR-2s).

For all cases issued TRP/TRV overseas for early admissions, the OHPO will be responsible for the continued processing of their applications for permanent residence. Clients will be reminded to keep their temporary immigration status valid through CPC-Vegreville.

OHPO will complete immigration processing for overseas cases that fall under the HSM, as well as DR-2s that are transferred from CPC-Vegreville. Following finalization of a case, OHPO will advise Embassy in Port-au-Prince to issue a visa for applicant, or if applicant was issued a TRP or TRV for early admission, the OHPO will finalize the immigration process within Canada.

OHPO will instruct inland CICs regarding the additional steps that must be undertaken to issue an immigrant visa within Canada. There may be instances where inland CIC’s may be required to interview a sponsor or to undertake other activities in support of the assessment of an immigration application, in addition to scheduling appointments for applicants to collect their immigrant visa.


Temporary residents of Haitian citizenship already in Canada may apply to extend or change their temporary resident status according to normal procedures, which may require an IME to be completed. These applications will be considered on an expedited basis and the fees associated with these applications will not be waived. This does not include those individuals who are failed Refugee claimants or in the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) process. Those who can demonstrate that they are unable to support themselves may also apply for a WP.

As per R183(5), persons who have already submitted an application to extend or change their temporary resident status will benefit from implied status until notified of a decision on their application.

For existing in-Canada applications, clients may contact the Call Centre either via phone or email. The Call Centre will notify CPC-Vegreville and these applications will then be processed on a priority basis.

Vegreville will process HSM cases for extensions of temporary residence, change of status for temporary residence, H&C, and in-Canada Spouse or Common-law partner in-Canada class, and will help expedite the identification of dependents of protected persons.


CPC-Mississauga will expeditiously process the eligibility assessments of sponsors for all family class sponsorships.


Priority processing will be available for existing applications for citizenship certificates (proofs of citizenship) for persons who are of Haitian origin. This will enable persons to obtain travel documents and services. New applications for citizenship certificates should have “Haiti” prominently written on the mailing envelope. Applicants should explain why urgent processing is required and provide supporting documentation where possible. CPC-Sydney will assess the circumstances on a case-by-case basis, and determine if priority processing is warranted.

Given the current situation, new applications for citizenship for persons adopted by a Canadian citizen are not to be forwarded to Port-au-Prince. As services resume, CIC will provide further instructions.

CPC-Sydney will expeditiously process all C-14 adoptions cases, proof applications for Canadian citizens, and will continue to offer aid to the mission in Port-au-Prince with the verification of identity of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

How to Contact CIC for Haiti-related information

General inquiries or to update contact information:

  • CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday)
  • Email at: question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca

Adoptions processed under Operation Stork:

Permanent resident applications that have been submitted:

Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

IFHP eligibility will be provided to clients listed below who are being processed under these special measures announced for Haiti, who are not covered by any other public or private medical insurance plan:

  • Individuals with Immigration Applications in process in Haiti, including adoptive children, who are allowed forward to complete processing in Canada on a TRV or Temporary Resident Permit (TRP);
  • Individuals directly and significantly affected by the earthquake who are provided with Temporary Status in Canada;
  • Haitian temporary residents or permit holders who are extending their status in Canada;
  • Persons arriving in Canada on an evacuation flight from Haiti who do not have proper documentation and have been documented on a TRP.

The duration of the IFHP eligibility will be the shortest of the following:

  • The validity of the status document (e.g. TRP);
  • 12 months;
  • The date on which the individual obtains provincial or private insurance coverage; or
  • The date on which these special measures cease to apply.

The IFHP eligibility will cover the cost of any IME for these individuals.

IFHP Eligibility Procedures

POE on arrival (until regular processing resumes):

  • The BSO must confirm with the client whether they have the funds to pay for their medical care themselves or whether they have any medical insurance (covering physician and hospital services, and not just supplementary health care such as dental, pharmaceutical, optical, etc.);
  • If not, an IFHP Eligibility certificate should be issued for a period which is the shorter of 12 months or the validity of the status document (e.g. TRV, TRP, etc.).

Case Processing Centre – Vegreville:

  • When a Haitian national requests an extension of temporary status under the special measures, a letter should be sent to the client indicating that IFHP is available if needed, and that the request should be made on an IFHP Extension application form which is submitted by mail to a local CIC office. The IFHP Extension application link should be included in the letter (www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/ifh.asp).

Local CIC office:

  • Haitian nationals who have been extended by the Special Measures will mail in an IFHP Extension kit if they require IFHP eligibility.
  • The CIC office will need to confirm whether or not the client has provincial or other medical insurance. If not, an IFHP eligibility certificate should be issued for a period which is the shorter of 12 months or the validity of the status document (e.g. TRV, WP, etc.)
  • The CIC office will then issue the eligibility certificate in the manner it usually follows for typical IFH clients such as refugees, etc.

Fee exemptions

Pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the following fee exemptions continue to apply:

  1. Haitian nationals applying in Haiti who are directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, for temporary resident visas, temporary resident permits, work permits, study permits, permanent resident travel documents, or authorizations to return to Canada;
  2. Haitian nationals in Canada who are directly affected by the humanitarian crisis in Haiti making an application for a work permit because they have become temporarily destitute as a result of their inability to return to Haiti.

Officers should use the cost recovery code HSM for these cases.

Please note that the following officers have been delegated to exempt fees:

International Region

  • Immigration Officer
  • Locally Engaged Staff
  • Program Specific Analyst
  • Non Immigrant Officer (NIO)
  • Immigration Program Officer (IPO)
  • Designated Immigration Officer (DIO)

Centralized Processing Region


  • Service Delivery Clerk, PRC
  • Client Services Officer, PRC
  • Support Services Clerk, FSW
  • Service Delivery Agent, FSW
  • Program Support Specialist, FSW


  • Service Delivery Agent
  • Service Delivery Specialist


  • Service Delivery Agent
  • Service Delivery Specialist
  • Strategic Analyst Officer

Domestic Regions

  • C&I Counselor Assistant (CR5)
  • Immigration Advisor
  • C&I Officer
  • Expertise Officer
  • Settlement Officer
  • PRRA Officer


  • Border Services Officer (BSO)
  • Migration Integrity Officer (MIO)

NOTE: Effective March 15, 2010, the visa requirement is re-imposed on emergency crews and aid workers from non-visa exempt countries transiting Canada on their way to provide assistance in Haiti.

Expiry of initiative

This initiative will remain in existence until further notice.


1. An application requires both a sponsorship form and an application for permanent residence in Canada (Form IMM8) in order to be considered as a complete application for family class cases. For persons who are dependents of approved refugee claimants in Canada, the Protected Person must submit an application (Form IMM8) and the dependent in Haiti must also submit an application (Form IMM8) – no sponsorship form is required.

2. This group of cases excludes those from non-Haitian residents whose cases were previously processed by the visa office in Port-au-Prince. These cases have been transferred to Santo Domingo or Port of Spain.

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