ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 380 - January 31, 2012

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Closure and Transfer of Visa and Immigration Services from the Canadian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, to Neighbouring Visa Offices

This Operational Bulletin has expired.

Summary

The purpose of this operational bulletin (OB) is to provide information regarding the closure of the Damascus (Syria) visa office until further notice, and the transfer of visa and immigration services from Damascus to neighbouring visa offices due to the continuing unrest. This redistribution of workload will result in new responsibilities for visa offices in Beirut (Lebanon), Amman (Jordan), Ankara (Turkey), and Tel Aviv (Israel). Amman and Beirut will also now be designated as full service visa offices, and Ankara will also now become the new regional program centre.

Background

Effective immediately, due to circumstances in Syria, the Visa and Immigration Section of the Canadian Embassy in Damascus is closed until further notice. The resulting Damascus caseload has been redistributed to neighbouring visa offices in the region. This will result in new responsible visa offices for temporary resident applications from Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria and permanent resident applications from Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. This will also affect refugee class applications from Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Greece.

Instructions

Regional Program Centre

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) visa office in Ankara, Turkey, will replace Damascus, Syria, as the regional program centre.

Temporary Resident Processing

New Applications

Persons residing in… Applications should be submitted to…
Syria Visa Office in Amman (Jordan) OR Visa Office in Beirut (Lebanon) OR in person to any other CIC visa office
Lebanon Visa Office in Beirut (Lebanon)
Cyprus Visa Office in Tel-Aviv (Israel)

Applications in-Process

Temporary resident applications currently in process in Damascus will continue to be processed and finalized at that office.

Permanent Resident Processing

New Applications

New Federal Skilled Worker, Quebec Skilled Worker, Provincial Nominee Program and Investor Program applications should continue to first be submitted to the Centralized Intake Office, Sydney (CIO-S). New Family Class applications should continue to first be submitted to the Case Processing Centre Mississauga (CPC-M).

The CIO-S, the CPC-M, the Case Processing Centre-Ottawa and the Case Processing Centre-Vegreville should hold impacted files until the transfer of services has been completed. As of March 1, 2012, these files may be sent to the appropriate visa office below:

Applicants in… Applications should be submitted to…
Syria, Jordan and Iraq Visa Office in Amman (Jordan)
Lebanon Visa Office in Beirut (Lebanon)
Cyprus Visa Office in Tel Aviv (Israel)
Iran Visa Office in Ankara (Turkey)

Applications in-Process

Applications currently in process in Damascus have been transferred to the new responsible visa office. All original supporting documents accompanying applications in Damascus have also been transferred. Those who have already sent documents to the Canadian Embassy in Damascus do not need to re-send them.

Refugee Class Applications

New Applications

The refugee resettlement program for both privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) and government-assisted refugees (GARs) in Syria has been suspended, and no new refugee applications for refugees in Syria will be accepted by the visa office in Damascus, until further notice. Local Citizenship and Immigration Centres in Canada are currently placing on hold any new private sponsored refugee applications it receives for refugees in Syria until longer term contingencies are determined by the Department. Resettlement partners, such as private sponsors and the UNHCR will be informed in due course where they may submit new applications/referrals and how many may be submitted to other visa offices.

Applications in-Process

Over the coming months, Amman will finalize the processing of the several hundred remaining refugee cases that have passed selection. The remaining refugee cases for persons residing in Syria will be transferred to a secure location and processing will resume once the visa office in Damascus is able to re-open.

The refugee resettlement file caseload for persons residing outside of Syria will follow the same regional redistribution and processing will resume as follows:

Persons residing in Applications were transferred to…
Lebanon Visa Office in Beirut (Lebanon)
Cyprus Visa Office in Tel Aviv (Israel)
Jordan and Iraq Visa Office in Amman (Jordan)
Greece Visa Office in Rome (Italy)
Iran Visa Office in Ankara (Turkey)

Returning Permanent Residents

Returning permanent residents are encouraged to submit applications for a Permanent Resident Travel Document in person at a Visa Application Centre. Applicants should not send any correspondence or applications to the visa section in Damascus.

External Client Enquiries

Affected applicants should be aware that they can expect additional delays in processing during this transition period. Applicants and their representatives should refrain from contacting regional visa offices. Applicants will be contacted by the new processing mission in due course.

Expiry of Directives

These directives will remain in force until further notice. Further instructions will be communicated as required.

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