Operational Bulletin 179B – April 23, 2010 - Updated on 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.

Special Measures for Haiti: Permanent Resident Non-Adoption Cases

This Operational Bulletin has expired.

Issue

This operational bulletin (OB) provides instructions for processing permanent resident applications (excluding adoption cases) for Haitian nationals and their close family members.

Background

The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, and its aftershocks have resulted in devastation within Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. The Embassy of Canada was damaged and services are still limited. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is currently working with its partners to resume visa and immigration services as soon as possible. In the interim, a new office, the Ottawa Haiti Processing Office (OHPO) has been established.

On January 16, 2010, the Minister of CIC announced special priority processing measures for persons who self-identified as being directly and significantly affected by the January 12th earthquake in Haiti (see OB 179A). This OB provides additional guidance concerning the processing of permanent resident applications. The processing of permanent resident adoption cases is addressed in OB 179C.

Priority processing 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:

  • 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.

  • 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, 2010, 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% (e.g. medical furtherance or client compliance in a timely manner).

  • Cases received post-earthquake that are received 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% (e.g. medical furtherance or client compliance in a timely manner).

  • All other cases not covered under HSM, resumption date to be determined.

    CIC will start to process cases that are not covered by HSM 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.

All standard admissibility 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 within this timeline.

In all three priority workloads listed above, 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.  

Processing Applications for Permanent Residence

Applications processed in Canada

Priority processing is available for applications in the following immigrant categories who self-identify as being directly and significantly affected by the disaster in Haiti:

  • new and existing applications for permanent residence in the Spouse or Common-law Partner in-Canada class (including cases where humanitarian and compassionate consideration has been requested), and
  • protected persons.

These cases will be submitted to CPC-Vegreville in the normal fashion. The onus is on the applicant to self-identify by notifying the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 or by e-mail at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca for existing applications. Due to the high volume of calls received by the Call Centre, applicants are encouraged to contact the Call Centre at the e-mail address below. New applications requiring priority processing must self-identify by writing “Haiti” on the mailing envelope. All other in-Canada applications for permanent residence from Haitian nationals will proceed under CIC’s existing procedures and priorities.

Both new and existing applications for overseas dependents of protected persons will be transferred by CPC-Vegreville to OHPO within 10 working days of receipt or self-identification. Protected persons will be encouraged to include a completed IMM 0008 for their dependents. Upon receipt at OHPO, file creation and an initial assessment will be conducted within 10 days. Applicants will then be advised of next steps. Files should be sent to the OHPO at the mailing address below. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has announced priority processing for Haitian refugee claimants. Following a favourable decision, CPC-Vegreville will give their applications for permanent residence priority processing.

In cases where an applicant has requested humanitarian and compassionate consideration (H&C), any hardship identified due to the earthquake will be an additional factor within existing guidelines, but solely because a person is a Haitian citizen is not enough grounds for favourable consideration under H&C. CPC-Vegreville and Inland CIC offices will be responsible for processing H&C applications submitted in Canada prior to January 12, 2010. These applications will also receive priority processing. The total number of H&C applications submitted by Haitian nationals prior to the earthquake is expected to be minimal, and therefore it should not cause any delays in the processing of other H&C applications already in queue.

Overseas Processing

Ottawa Haiti Processing Office (OHPO)

Effective immediately, the OHPO is designated as a processing office for Haitian nationals for the purpose of section 11 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The OHPO will process the following applications for permanent residence from Haitian nationals:

  • all early admission cases;
  • family class applications;
  • DR02 applications (dependents of protected persons);
  • successful appeals to the Immigration Appeal Division; and
  • applications under the Quebec Special Measures.

Mailing Address:

Ottawa Haiti Processing Office (OHPO)
365 Laurier Ave. West
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1L1
Email Address: Haiti-application@cic.gc.ca.

Processing Applications for Permanent Residence

To ensure expedited processing is facilitated, CIC will continue to allow cases that fall under the HSM to be issued TRVs or TRPs as appropriate before all stages of immigration processing have been completed, although if a PRV can be issued, that is the preferred option.

For overseas family class sponsorships, CPC-Mississauga will transfer the information to OHPO within 10 working days of receipt of the IMM 1344. This information will be transferred to the aforementioned OHPO address. CPC-Mississauga will also send a letter to the sponsor within 10 working days, advising them that an application kit will be forthcoming. This letter will advise the sponsor that the application kit will be received within 2 weeks, but it will encourage the sponsor to download the application kit from the CIC website. Sponsors will also be encouraged to include an IMM 0008 with the sponsorship package, with as much information completed as possible (signed or unsigned). Upon receipt of this information at OHPO, a file will be created and initial assessment completed within 10 working days.

Overseas processing will also be expedited by contacting sponsors through alternate means (email, SMS), accepting incomplete IMM 008 application forms (no signature), convocation of sponsors to interview to clarify facts, and in-Canada fee collection for overseas processing for non-family class Quebec Special Measures cases. As well, officers are encouraged to exercise flexibility and judgement in determining whether an interview of the applicant can be waived.

In the first four examples listed below, the expedited processing measures listed above may be used.

1. Early Admission Cases

The OHPO will receive and process all early admission cases that were issued temporary resident permits (TRP). They will work closely with the visa office at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as well as domestic CIC offices to obtain additional information, as required. The OHPO will finalize these cases and send them to domestic CICs for the granting of permanent residence. There may be instances where inland CICs 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.

2. Family class (FC) applications

The OHPO will process all new and existing applications from Haitian nationals for permanent residence in the family class. Priority processing is available for family class applicants who self-identify as being directly and significantly affected by the disaster in Haiti, with the highest priority going to spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, and dependent children.

The onus is on the Canadian sponsor to identify the need for priority processing of existing applications by notifying the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 or by email at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca. New sponsorship applications submitted to CPC-Mississauga requiring priority processing must self-identify by writing “Haiti” prominently on the mailing envelope.

Finalization of these cases will be done by Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

3. Overseas dependents of Protected Persons in Canada

OHPO will process all new and existing applications for overseas dependents of protected persons in Canada who are citizens of Haiti. Priority processing is available for those who self-identify as being directly and significantly affected by the disaster in Haiti.

The onus is on the protected person in Canada to identify the need for priority processing of existing applications by notifying the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 or by email at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca. New applications requiring priority processing must self-identify by writing “Haiti” prominently on the mailing envelope.

As per facilitation procedures, these cases will be dealt with either at the visa office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, visa office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, or at OHPO if they were granted early admission.

4. Successful appeals to the Immigration Appeal Division of the IRB

OHPO will also be responsible for processing successful appeal cases. When the Immigration Appeal Division allows an appeal against a decision not to issue a foreign national a permanent resident visa, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) hearings officer sends the file back to the appropriate visa office for continued processing. As a result of the earthquake, CBSA hearings officers will now send appeal files to OHPO for processing.

Federal economic class applications

The Centralized Intake Office (CIO) will continue to receive new Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applications from Haitian nationals who do not reside in the province of Quebec. The applications shall be held in abeyance by Sydney until future notice. New and existing FSW applicants will be advised in writing that the processing of their applications has been put on hold. Applications will not be referred or sent to the OHPO until normal processing resumes.

For federal economic class applications, other than those in the Federal Skilled Worker category, CIC will accept normal processing deposit fees, and hold the application until normal processing resumes for non-HSM applications.

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:

Efforts to Expedite Case Processing

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 (IPM) as to whether to facilitate the case by allowing the applicant forward under early admission procedures for treatment in Canada. For those HSM applicants arriving on a TRP, Port of Entry (POE) Officers will follow their standard procedures for determining if quarantine services or IMEs are required in Canada.

Where there is a lack of documentation to establish relationship, visa officers are encouraged to consider other corroborative evidence, before requesting DNA testing.

The Minister has exempted foreign nationals that have been processed for permanent residence in either the family or economic class directly and significantly affected by the situation in Haiti and unable to present a prescribed travel document from their country of nationality from the requirements of R10(1)(c) and R50(1) by way of a temporary public policy. The foreign nationals described above may travel to Canada on a Single Journey Travel Document (SJTD) (IMM 5565) issued with an IM-1 visa counterfoil to facilitate obtaining permanent resident status, for the duration of the public policy. For detailed instructions on the procedures for completing an SJTD, officers should consult RIL 05-028 and OP 16/ENF 32/IP 12. This provision should only be required in exceptional cases since applicants are able to obtain passports from the Haitian authorities.

Functional Guidance for Processing Haiti Cases under the Haiti Special Measures

Persons being processed under the Haiti special measures fall within the following three groups:

  • Members of the family class: Spouses/common-law/conjugal partners and dependent children [note 3], family members of protected persons in Canada (DR2 category) and, in exceptional cases, vulnerable [note 4] individuals who have a relationship to a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident including orphaned children, unaccompanied [note 5] dependent children and separated minors [note 6] constitute our highest priority.
  • Other members of the family class and persons who have submitted humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) applications.
  • Applicants who meet the requirements of the Quebec Special Measures.

Establishing identity and relationship

Principal applicants must provide documentation to establish that they are a member of the family class with respect to their sponsor when their application for a permanent resident visa is sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. All accompanying family members must also demonstrate that they meet the definition of a family member with respect to the principal applicant.

The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of their identity and relationships to their sponsor and accompanying family members. However, documents may have been lost or destroyed as a result of the earthquake. Although new applicants may have lost documents in the earthquake, it is noted that Haitians authorities are currently issuing death certificates, birth certificates and passports.

In order to satisfy the processing timeframes to which CIC has committed, a more flexible approach is required when assessing documentation submitted to establish identity and relationship. Where the information submitted by the applicant is inadequate to substantiate identity or relationship, officers may use credible corroborative evidence to validate the evidence provided by the applicant.

Some examples of corroborative evidence applicable to both family class applicants and family members of protected persons include the following:

  • A previously filed personal information form in which the family members of a protected person are named;
  • An application for permanent residence in Canada on H&C consideration, which pre-dates the earthquake, and names the family members currently being processed;
  • An application for a permanent resident visa which was submitted by the sponsor and which named the applicant being processed as a non-accompanying family member;
  • In exceptional cases where an officer is satisfied as to the reliability of the applicant, a statutory declaration signed by the applicant before a visa officer in Port-au-Prince attesting to the applicant’s identity, the applicant’s relationship to the sponsor or the relationship between the applicant and accompanying family members.

Parental Consent – based upon Haitian laws:

  • The consent of both parents is required before a permanent resident visa is issued to a dependent child under the age of 18, if the child was born in wedlock, even if the parents are divorced.
  • If a child is born to parents who are not married and both parents are named on the child’s birth certificate, consent only from the father is required.
  • If the parents are unmarried and only the mother is named on the child’s birth certificate, consent only from the mother is required.
  • If the child is the issue of an extra-marital relationship where the father is married and the mother is single, consent only from the mother is required, even if the child’s father is named on the child’s birth certificate.

Visa officers are encouraged to exercise flexibility as well as good judgement when assessing cases which require parental consent.

Note: Haitian authorities will process an application for a passport for a minor child that is submitted by either parent of the child. The issuance of a passport by Haitian authorities to one parent does not, therefore, imply that consent from the other parent is not required.

Orphans

Death certificates are particularly important to establish the status of an orphan. In order to be defined as an orphan eligible for sponsorship, both parents of a child must be deceased and the child must be under the age of 18 and not a spouse or common-law partner.

A person who has been appointed as a guardian of an orphan may request a passport in the child’s name.

DNA testing

Since the cost of DNA testing may be a financial burden which some applicants cannot bear, a DNA test should be requested to prove relationship as a last resort. If any corroborative evidence exists in the form of documentation submitted by the applicant, the sponsor or the protected person, prior to the earthquake on January 12, 2010, such evidence should be considered when seeking to establish identity and relationship.

When corroborative evidence does not exist and documentary submissions are not satisfactory evidence of a bona fide relationship, officers may advise applicants that positive results of DNA tests by a laboratory are an acceptable substitute for documents. Appendix E of OP 1 provides a list of laboratories accredited by the Standards Council of Canada for DNA testing.

Exclusion from the family class as per R117(9)(d)

Officers are reminded that they may exempt applicants from any applicable criteria or obligation under the Act when justified by humanitarian and compassionate considerations related to them. With respect to the exclusion provisions under subsection 117(9)(d) of the Regulations, if the family member was previously declared, but was not examined, an exemption from the requirement to have been examined at the time of processing of the sponsor’s application for a permanent resident visa may be considered in accordance with the provisions of A25.

The cases currently held at CPC-Mississauga in this category should be forwarded to OHPO for review by a visa officer and only referred to Quebec if the review is positive. In these cases, the genuineness of the relationship to the sponsor may need to be examined as closely as the H&C considerations.

Identification of high profile, contentious or sensitive cases

OP 1, section 15, provides guidance to officers on processing high profile, contentious or sensitive cases. The following are examples of cases that may be described as high profile, contentious or sensitive:

  • applicants with public profiles;
  • security concerns;
  • human rights violations;
  • serious criminality;
  • organized crime;
  • highly publicized cultural or sporting events and international conventions;
  • other media interest and/or coverage (both foreign and domestic);
  • provincial jurisdiction over minors;
  • enquiries received from the office of the Minister or Deputy Minister;
  • specific enquiries received from a member of Parliament;
  • allegations or proof of professional misconduct (values and ethics, serious error in case processing, fraud);
  • threats or harassment (client vs. employee);
  • disputes with another department or government authority; and
  • federal-provincial issues.

Officers should be particularly vigilant when processing cases which include the following factors:

  • Unaccompanied minors in immediate need of assistance and in an urgent and compelling situation, who are:
    • destined to a parent or a legal guardian with permanent legal status in Canada (CC, PR, Protected Person);
    • sponsorable or included in a parent’s application for permanent residence, where matters related to the best interests of the child, such as custody or guardianship concerns, are unresolved.
  • Persons for whom there is an approved Family Class sponsorship, who are in an urgent and compelling situation, and are:
    • in need of urgent medical attention;
    • at risk and in need of other immediate assistance.

When officers determine that a case is high-profile, they must inform NHQ as per the procedure outlined in OP 1, section 15. When informing NHQ of these cases, officers are asked to include the Operational Management and Coordination Branch on their distribution list. Conversely, should it be determined in Canada that a particular case may become high-profile, NHQ will notify the office processing the case.

Cases where a TRP may be appropriate:

  • The applicant is a member of the family class and is sponsorable by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;
  • The applicant is a family member of a protected person in Canada and has been included in their application for permanent residence.

The applicant and dependents should be in a situation that merits being processed for early admission on a TRP, such that awaiting the finalization of an application for a PRV would put them at risk and cause significant hardship.

Persons in circumstances, such as the following, may be deemed worthy of special consideration:

  • Minors (FC3 and dependents of protected persons, including successful refugee claimants) who are alone, who may not have safe housing arrangements and who are without the care of an adult relative. Children in these circumstances are particularly vulnerable and could be subject to abuse, suffer malnutrition or have inadequate health care if they are not processed through an early admission TRP;
  • Spouses (FC1) who are also in dire circumstances, with or without minors;
  • Orphaned siblings, nieces, nephews or grandchildren (FC5) under the age of eighteen who are not in the care of a guardian and whose circumstances make them vulnerable or subject to abuse;
  • Elderly persons (FC4) who may also be at risk due to lack of needed care or safe housing.

Cases where the risk to the applicant is low should not qualify for exceptional processing measures such as early admission; a final decision should be made to issue or refuse a PRV in such cases. Cases that merit special consideration, where the applicant is at considerable risk and would otherwise be sponsorable as a member of the family class may be considered deserving of a TRP to allow for early admission.

Cases that have been in the system for an extended period of time where there is clear evidence of hardship may also be considered for a TRP.

Visa officers in Port-au-Prince are encouraged to review cases that come before them with these criteria in mind. Cases deemed to be exceptional and deserving may be referred to the Immigration Program Manager with a recommendation for the issuance of a TRP. If made aware of an exceptional and deserving case, Case Management Branch may also consider the issuance of a TRP.

Quebec Special Measures (QSM)

The Province of Quebec introduced new regulatory measures to facilitate sponsorship of persons who were seriously and personally affected by the earthquake in Haiti. CIC is working closely with Quebec on this program. The measures apply to two groups of persons. The first group applies to persons who would otherwise qualify under the federal family class, but do not meet the financial requirements of sponsorship (QSM Family Class sponsorship). Quebec is allowing the applicant to add a co-signor to the sponsorship application, who is not the 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 accorded under the federal Haiti special measures.

The second group under the Quebec special measures applies to 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. Federal sponsorships will not apply to the second group. These applications will be processed by CIC as soon as possible after priority cases have been cleared. Quebec has indicated they will accept up to 3,000 persons as extended family members.

Special Program Coding

It is important that officers use the special program code HSM when inputting a category code in FOSS, CAIPS or CPC systems.

All cases processed at the OHPO (365 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON.) should be identified by entering the code OTT in the paper file location code field.

The “Humanitarian Sponsorship” cases with a destination of Quebec will be coded as SW1:

All offices will add a prefix to the CSQ number in CAIPS to clearly identify QSM cases; humanitarian sponsorships will be identified by the CSQ prefix “QH”.

The “QSM Family Class Sponsorship” cases will be coded as Family Class applications:

All Offices will add a prefix to the CSQ number in CAIPS to clearly identify QSM cases; family class sponsorships will be identified by the CSQ prefix “QF”.

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 IMM 0008) 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 IMM 0008) and the dependent in Haiti must also submit an application (Form IMM 0008) – 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.

3. Applications for dependent children who are unaccompanied by an adult are our first priority.

4. “Vulnerable” means that the person has a greater need of protection than other applicants because of the person’s particular circumstances that give rise to a heightened risk to their physical safety or well-being.

The vulnerability may result from circumstances such as:

  • the lack of protection normally provided by a family unit (e.g., due to the absence of the normal protection of a family unit; the elderly who have no family or support network to assist them and are at greater risk as a result, etc.); or
  • medical conditions (e.g., medically-at-risk/disabled persons). A medical condition in and of itself does not make a person vulnerable.

5. Refers to a dependent child who is without the company of an adult who may or may not have legal responsibility for them.

6. “Separated minor” refers to persons under the age of 18, separated from both parents, and not with and being cared for by a legal guardian. This includes minors who are entirely on their own, minors who are with minor siblings but who, as a group, are unsupported by any adult responsible for them, minors who are de facto dependants and minors who are in the company of an adult who is not their parent or legal guardian.

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