ARCHIVED - Operational Bulletin 593-A (modified) – November 7, 2015

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.

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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).

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 (MIs)

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

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 applications. 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

Important: The MIs apply only 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 (TRV) Inside or outside YesNote 1
Application to Change Conditions or Extend Stay as a Visitor Inside No
Application for a Work Permit Outside Yes
Application for a Work Permit – Renewal, Extension Inside  No
Application for a Study Permit Outside Yes
Application for a Study Permit – Renewal, Extension Inside  No
Application for Restoration of Status Inside  No
Application for a Temporary Resident Permit (including subsequent Temporary Resident Permit applications) Inside or outside NoNote 2
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Economic and Family Classes (including international adoption) Outside YesNote 3
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Economic and Family Classes (including international adoption) Inside NoNote 4
Applications for Permanent Residence in the Refugee Classes (including Protected Person applications for permanent residence in Canada, REF-CDA, and their overseas dependents, DR2; and overseas refugees, REF-OVS) Inside or outside No
Application for Permanent Residence on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds Inside or outside NoNote 5

The MIs do not apply to in-Canada refugee claims, pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA), permanent resident travel documents, permanent resident cards, or any citizenship applications.

The MIs do not apply to sponsorship applications, however special instructions related to these types of applications can be found under Assessing permanent resident visa 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 the MIs apply to the type of application submitted by the applicant, the officer must assess whether the applicant him/herself is described in the MIs. An applicant and, in the case of applications for permanent residence, any accompanying family members from a visa-required country are described in the MIs if they meet any of the following three criteria:

  1. as a permanent resident visa applicant outside Canada or temporary resident visa applicant, they have resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to the application being received by CIC;
  2. as a temporary resident visa applicant, they intend to travel to or transit through an EAC in the future; or
  3. as a permanent resident visa applicant outside Canada, they have resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to a final decision being made by CIC.

In assessing whether the applicant is described in the MIs, officers should consider examining 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 considered.

Note: At the time of publication of this OB, the following country has been determined to be a country that has widespread and persistent/intense transmission of the Ebola virus disease by the WHO and is therefore an EAC under the MIs: Guinea.

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 as per the examples below, as the case may be:

  • 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 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 satisfies them that on the balance of probabilities the relevant criteria above apply to the applicant, the applicant is described in the MIs. This would normally require having direct evidence of the relevant facts, including but not limited to

  • passport stamps from an EAC;
  • plane tickets/travel itineraries to or from an EAC;
  • client statements of actual travel or intent to travel to an EAC.

Officers should make their decision based on the information provided by the applicant and would not normally need to seek additional information or contact the applicant to confirm whether the applicant is described in the MIs. If the officer concludes the applicant is not described in the MIs, the application should be processed according to usual procedures.

If, however, officers have evidence that gives them reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is described in the MIs, the officer should follow up with the client by sending them letter C. In addition, there are circumstances in which officers should consider seeking additional information. See TRV applicants for information on when follow-up is recommended.

TRV applicants

The MIs apply to all TRV applications whether they are made by a foreign national in Canada or overseas.

In addition, if an applicant in Canada applies for a temporary resident visa (TRV) and is a citizen of an EAC, or if the in-Canada applicant’s last country of permanent residence on their most recent CIC document was an EAC, officers should consider seeking information as to whether the applicant intends to return to an EAC. Officers should send these applicants letter C (or in the case of in-Canada TRV applicants, call, ask the questions outlined in letter C and very precisely note the responses in a detailed way), to confirm where they intend to travel. Applications should be put on hold until a response is received from the applicant.

In order for the in-Canada 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.

While the MIs are in effect, officers should consider issuing a single-entry visa valid for no more than six months to all approved

  • TRV applicants who are citizens of an EAC;
  • in-Canada TRV applicants whose last country of permanent residence on their most recent CIC document was an EAC; and
  • TRV applicants who have travelled to an EAC within the last year (though not the three months before application).

Before issuing the TRV, the office printing the visa must assess applicants again against the MIs to see if they are described (see sections on intent to travel and actual travel). Specifically, officers should verify the applicant’s travel document (i.e. passport) for any stamps that indicate the applicant is described under the first or second criterion under Determining if the applicant is described in the MIs. Officers should not proactively request passports from applicants who do not need a visa.

Intent to travel to an EAC after TRV application

In the event that new information comes to CIC’s attention (e.g., through the Call Centre, from examining passports at visa issuance), CIC must consider the file to determine whether the applicant is described in the MIs. If the applicant 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 (if different). 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.

Travel to an EAC after TRV application

If an applicant indicates they have travelled to an EAC since submitting their application to CIC, they are not described in the MIs unless they intend to travel there again. However, even if they do not intend to travel to an EAC again, the file should still be referred to the Case Management Branch as indicated above.

Assessing permanent resident visa applications

The MIs do not apply to PR applications if the principal applicant and accompanying family members are exempted from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa. In addition, if the principal applicant and accompanying family members are in-Canada with valid temporary resident status, the MIs do not apply to them even if they are from a visa-required country.

In cases where all the members of an economic or family class application are not residing together in the same physical location (for example, overseas dependents of in-Canada applicants), the application is to be assessed based on the principal applicant and accompanying family members. If the application is new, and the principal applicant or any accompanying family member is described in the MIs, the entire family’s application cannot be processed (if it is an existing application, it can be processed but not approved); see What to do if the applicant is described in the MIs. If the principal applicant has non-accompanying family members that are described in the MIs (for example residing in an EAC), this will not prevent processing of the principal applicant and any accompanying family members.

Prior to issuing permanent resident visas, officers should closely examine the permanent resident application and all systems for any information indicating the principal applicant or any accompanying family member have resided in, travelled to, or transited through an EAC within the three months prior to issuance of the permanent resident visa. If so, the application (including all accompanying family members) cannot be processed; see What to do if the applicant is described in the MIs.

While the MIs do not apply to sponsorships, the application for permanent residence should be assessed against the MIs when determining the sponsor’s eligibility. Whether the sponsor meets the eligibility requirements or not, and the principle applicant or any accompanying family member is described in the MIs, the sponsor should be sent letter D to advise them; letter D also gives the sponsor the opportunity to withdraw the sponsorship. If the sponsor withdraws, the application should be withdrawn according to normal procedures and all processing fees refunded. If not, the application for permanent residence should be forwarded for processing according to regular procedures; when the application for permanent residence has reached the front of the inventory, it will be assessed against again the MIs and, if the applicant or any accompanying family members are still described in the MIs, the application should not be processed; see What to do if the applicant is described in the MIs.

Before issuing the permanent resident visas, the office printing the visas must assess the applicants again against the MIs to see if they are described. Specifically, officers should verify the applicants’ travel documents (i.e. passports) for any stamps that indicate the principal applicant or any accompanying family members is described by the third criterion under Determining if the applicant is described in the MIs. Officers should not proactively request passports from applicants who do not need a visa.

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.

In all cases of refused TR applications, copies of all documents provided by applicants should be made and kept on file for two years even if the refusal to process is made at the initial stage. Originals should be returned to the applicant.

Fees for cancelled applications under these MIs must be returned or refunded to the applicant. Any visa application centre (VAC) fees paid by the applicant are paid for services provided by the VAC, not CIC. The applicant is to contact the VAC if they wish to obtain details as to their policy on refunds.

Permanent residence: new applications

Once it has been determined that the principal applicant or any accompanying family member 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 applications for permanent residence cancelled under these MIs must be returned or refunded to the applicant. Sponsorship fees, if any were taken, should not be returned.

Permanent residence: existing applications

If it has been determined that the principal applicant or any accompanying family member is described in the MIs, the application can be processed up to the point where a final decision would be made, but the visa cannot be issued.

When a final decision is ready to be made, if the decision appears to be a refusal, the application should be refused according to regular procedures. If the decision appears to be an approval, the principal applicant and all accompanying family members should be reassessed against the MIs. If they are still described in the MIs,

  • the application must be put on hold;
  • the applicant must be informed; and
  • fees should not be returned to the applicant.

If the applicant subsequently contacts CIC and indicates that they have not been in an EAC for the past three months, officers should request that the applicant provide the following information:

  • documentary evidence of when they resided in an EAC;
  • date they left the EAC; and
  • documentary evidence of where they have lived since leaving the EAC.

Upon receipt of this information, if the officer is satisfied that the principal applicant and all accompanying family members has not been in an EAC in the last three months, the application should be approved according to existing procedures. If not, processing of 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 is to be cancelled if, before the visa is given to the applicant, new information comes to light indicating an applicant is described in the MIs and the application can be put on hold in accordance with the MIs.

High profile cases from applicants described in the MIs

There are cases where travel is essential to the applicant and Canada may have an interest in issuing a travel document to them even though they are described in the MIs. These could include the following persons:

  • Heads and deputy heads of state;
  • Chief justices;
  • Parliamentary and senate speakers;
  • Ministers and deputy ministers; secretaries of state;
  • Parliamentary secretaries;
  • Lieutenant governors;
  • Provincial and territorial leaders and ministers;
  • Federal parliamentarians;
  • Assistant Deputy Minister-level senior federal, provincial and territorial officials;
  • Foreign Representatives such as Diplomats, Consular Officers, and Individuals covered by an Order in Council under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act (FMIOA), for example officials of ICAO; or
  • Other individuals identified by the IPM who may be considered a VIP (senior business people equivalent to the government positions mentioned above, internationally acclaimed artists, etc).

If an applicant or potential applicant affected by these MIs needs to travel to Canada, an exemption may be provided so that an application for permanent residence (PR) can be continue to be processed towards finalization or a temporary resident permit (TRP) may be issued. However, should a TRP be considered appropriate by the officer in any case (i.e. not necessarily limited to applicants such as those listed immediately above), they should contact the Case Management Branch for consultations before a TRP is issued or an exemption is approved.

Their email should include the following:

  • applicant’s name
  • applicant’s date of birth;
  • copy of a letter or email of support from a Canadian federal department outlining Canada’s interest in issuing the TRP (if available);
  • Ebola-specific medical form (if available); and
  • any information related to duration for which the TRP should be issued.

The Case Management Branch (CMB) will then coordinate consultations and may ask for additional information in relation to public health considerations.

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, it should be considered according to existing guidelines.

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