ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 593 – November 4, 2014

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.

This document has expired. Refer to OB 593-A.

Implementation of Ministerial Instructions stopping the intake and processing of permanent residence and temporary residence applications from individuals who have resided in, travelled to, or transited through Ebola affected countries

Summary

This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides officers with operational instructions in regard to Ministerial Instructions (MIs) affecting applications from individuals who have resided in, travelled to, or transited through Ebola affected countries (EAC) during the last three months.

Background

Section 87.3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows for MIs to be made that will best support the attainment of the immigration goals established by the Government of Canada.

Ministerial Instructions

In order to protect public health and safety of Canadians against the threat of the Ebola virus disease, the Minister issued MIs which were published in the Canada Gazette on October 31, 2014, affecting applications from individuals who have resided in, travelled to, or transited through EAC during the last three months. Specifically, the MIs:

  • stop the processing of new applications for temporary residence (TR);
  • stop the processing of pending TR applications;
  • stop the processing of new permanent residence (PR) applications; and
  • withhold the issuance of permanent resident visas

for applicants who have resided in, travelled to, or transited through EAC during the last three months.

The EAC are defined in the MIs as countries that have widespread and persistent/intense transmission of the Ebola virus disease as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The MIs do not apply to all PR and TR types of application. Therefore, officers must first determine whether the MIs apply to the type of application submitted by the applicant. If so, officers must then assess whether the applicant themselves is described in the MIs.

See What to do if the applicant is described in the MIs.

Types of applications affected by the MIs

The MIs only apply to foreign nationals who require a visa.

Type of application Is the applicant physically inside or outside Canada? Do the MIs apply?
Application for Temporary Resident Visa Outside Yes
Application for Temporary Resident Visa Inside Yes Footnote 1
Application to Change Conditions or Extend Stay as a Visitor Inside Yes Footnote 2
Application for a Work Permit Outside Yes
Application for a Work Permit – Renewal, Extension Inside Yes Footnote 2
Application for a Study Permit Outside Yes
Application for a Study Permit – Renewal, Extension Inside Yes Footnote 2
Application for Restoration of Status Inside Yes Footnote 2
Application for a Temporary Resident Permit (including subsequent Temporary Resident Permit applications) Inside or outside No Footnote 3
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Economic and Family Classes (including international adoption) Outside Yes Footnote 4
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Economic and Family Classes (including international adoption) Inside No Footnote 5
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Refugee Classes (including Protected Person applications in Canada) Inside or outside No
Application for Permanent Residence on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds Inside No
Application for Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Inside No

The MIs do not apply to in-Canada refugee claims, permanent resident travel documents, permanent resident cards, or any citizenship applications.

The MIs are concerned with the applicant’s physical location, not whether the application is considered an “in-Canada” application or an “outside Canada” application.

Determining if the applicant is described in the MIs

If MIs apply to the type of application submitted by the applicant, the officer must assess whether the applicant themselves is described in the MIs.

Note: At the time of publication of this OB, the following countries have been determined to be countries that have widespread and persistent/intense transmission of the Ebola virus disease by the WHO and are EAC under the MIs: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

When assessing each criterion below, officers must be aware that the EAC status of a country may not always be relevant. When the Ebola virus disease was active in the country is a key determining factor in assessing each criterion; the officers should therefore ask themselves the following questions:

Criterion outlined in the MIs Question for officers
The applicant has resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to the application being received by CIC. Was the country an EAC when the applicant resided in, travelled to, or transited through the EAC?
The applicant intends to travel to or transit through an EAC in the future. Is the country an EAC when the officer is assessing the applicant’s intention to travel to that country?
The applicant has resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to making the final decision on the application. Was the country an EAC when the applicant resided in, travelled to, or transited through the EAC?

In answering these questions, officers should examine the applicant’s address history, work history, passport copies, and any other information provided on the application. In addition, a check of electronic immigration systems (e.g., GCMS) should be done.

How to calculate the three-month period

When determining whether an applicant is described in the MIs, officers are to calculate the three-month period by counting three months back from the last day in the three-month period. For example:

  • If an application is received on October 20, 2014, the three-month period begins on July 20, 2014.
  • If the officer is making a decision today on January 5, 2015, the three-month period begins on October 5, 2014.

Standard of proof in assessing travel history

If officers find evidence that gives them reasonable ground to believe either of the criteria above applies to the applicant, the applicant is described in the MIs.

Officers should make their decision based on the information provided by the applicant and should not seek additional information or contact the applicant to confirm whether the applicant is described in the MIs. If the application does not indicate the applicant meets the MIs criteria above, it should be processed according to usual procedures. If the application, including supporting documents, indicates the applicant meets the criteria in the MIs, the applicant is described in the MIs.

There are only two exceptions where officers should seek additional information, as outlined below. See TRV applicants in Canada and Temporary resident status extensions in Canada for further information.

TRV applicants in Canada

If an applicant in Canada applies for a temporary resident visa (TRV) and is a citizen of an EAC, or if the applicant’s last country of permanent residence on their most recent CIC document was an EAC, officers are to seek information as to whether the applicant intends to return to an EAC.

Officers should call the applicant to confirm where they intend to travel. In the event the applicant cannot be reached by telephone, officers may wish to send the applicant a letter via email as well. Applications should be put on hold until contact can be made with the applicant.

In order for the applicant to be described in the MIs, the applicant must express a definite intention to travel to an EAC on a specific date or for a specific occasion. The possibility of travelling at some indeterminate point in the future is not sufficient to establish that the applicant has the intention to travel to an EAC.

Temporary resident status extensions in Canada

If an applicant in Canada applies to extend their temporary resident status in Canada, officers must do a search of available system records to determine whether there is any indication the applicant is in Canada, whether the applicant has travelled to an EAC and whether the applicant intends to return to an EAC.

In addition, if the applicant is a citizen of an EAC, or if the applicant’s last country of permanent residence on their most recent CIC document was an EAC, officers are also to call the applicant to confirm whether the applicant is in Canada and whether the applicant intends to return to an EAC. In the event the applicant cannot be reached by telephone, officers may wish to send the applicant a letter via email as well. Applications should be put on hold until contact can be made with the applicant.

If the applicant is outside Canada or intends to travel to an EAC, the applicant is described in the MIs.

Before issuing a permanent resident visa

Prior to issuing a permanent resident visa to an applicant whose application is subject to the MIs, officers should examine the PR application and all systems for any information indicating the applicant has resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to issuance of the permanent resident visa. If so, the applicant is described in the MIs.

The MIs do not apply to applications from applicants who are visa exempt and only receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence.

New information received after TR file in process

Intent to travel to an EAC

In the event that information comes to CIC’s attention (e.g., through the Call Centre), CIC must reassess the file to determine whether the applicant is described in the MIs. If an applicant applied for temporary resident status and now intends to travel to an EAC, they are described in the MIs.

The office that receives the above information must email the Case Management Branch and the office processing the application to ensure proper follow-up. The email must contain the following subject line: “URGENT EBOLA – UCI – Intent to travel” and provide detailed notes in the body of the email outlining the applicant’s statements.

Actual travel to an EAC

If an application is in process and the applicant indicates they travelled to an EAC in the period between the day the application is received and the day an officer assesses it, they are not described in the MIs. Even if they do not intend to travel to an EAC, the file should still be referred to the Case Management Branch as indicated above.

What to do if the applicant is described in the MIs

Temporary residence

Once it has been determined that the applicant is described in the MIs, the application must be cancelled in GCMS or FOSS. The applicant should be sent letter A. The application is to be kept for two years.

In the event the application is already in process, copies of documents provided by applicants should be made and kept on file. Originals should be returned to the applicant. The file should be kept according to standard retention and disposition schedules for a refused TR file.

Fees for cancelled applications under these MIs must be returned or refunded to the applicant, as appropriate.

Permanent residence: new applications

Once it has been determined that any member of the family is described in the MIs, the intake office must cancel the application in GCMS or FOSS. The applicant should be sent letter A. The application should be kept for two years.

Fees for cancelled applications under these MIs must be returned or refunded to the applicant, as appropriate.

Permanent residence: existing applications

If it has been determined that any member of the family is described in the MIs, the application can be processed up to the point where a final decision would be made. Fees should not be returned to the applicant.

If the decision appears to be an approval:

  • The application must be put on hold.
  • The applicant must be sent the letter B.
  • If the applicant subsequently contacts CIC and indicates that they have not resided in an EAC for longer than three months, officers should request that the applicant provide the following information for each family member:
    • Documentary evidence of when they resided in an EAC;
    • When they left the EAC; and
    • Documentary evidence of where they have lived since leaving the EAC.

If the officer is satisfied the applicant has not lived in an EAC for longer than three months, the application should be approved according to existing procedures. If not, the application remains on hold.

Officers are to follow the procedures above at any point in processing before the visas are physically sent to the applicant. A visa counterfoil in a passport can be cancelled if new information comes to light indicating an applicant is described in the MIs and the application can be put on hold.

If the decision appears to be a refusal, the application should be refused according to regular procedures.

Approved permanent resident visas applications but control documents not yet issued

All applications to which the MIs apply and for which a favourable decision is rendered but a control document (i.e., permanent resident visa) has not yet been issued, officers are to assess these applicants again to see if they are described in the MIs. Prior to issuing a control document, officers should verify the applicant’s travel document (i.e., passport) for any stamps that suggest the applicant may have travelled to an EAC.

Officers should not proactively request passports from applicants who do not need a visa.

If the applicant has resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to making the final decision, they are described in the MIs and the application must be put on hold.

High profile cases from applicants described in the MIs

There are cases where Canada may have an interest in issuing a travel document to an individual who is described in the MIs. These could include the following persons:

  • Foreign representatives such as diplomats, consular officers, and officials of international organizations such as ICAO;
  • Senior foreign government officials; or
  • Other notable world leaders such as senior religious leaders.

In those cases, a temporary resident permit (TRP) may be appropriate. Prior to issuing a TRP to an individual who would otherwise be described in the MIs, follow normal high-profile notifications in order to ensure that the appropriate level of approvals has been obtained.

Requests for considerations on humanitarian and compassionate grounds

The MIs do not prevent requests for humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) consideration from overcoming the MIs. If an officer receives a request to overcome the MIs on H&C grounds, they should be considered according to normal procedures.

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