ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 625 (modified) – July 14, 2016

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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Operational instructions for an extraordinary situation affecting IRCC operations: suspension of mail services by Canada Post

Summary

This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides operational guidelines to mitigate the impact on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operations of a suspension, cessation or interruption of mail services by Canada Post.

Additional instructions specific to travel documents (Canadian passports and other travel documents) will be sent directly to the relevant processing network through usual channels.

Note: From this point forward, references to “the situation” in these instructions refer to a short-term temporary suspension, interruption or cessation of mail services by the Canada Post Corporation, and references to “courier service” mean courier services from suppliers other than Canada Post.

Issue

Canada Post has withdrawn its 72-hour lock-out notice to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers that was supposed to take effect on July 11, 2016. The departmental website has been updated to inform clients that effective July 11, 2016, IRCC has resumed normal processing procedures for applications, using Canada Post mail services.

The Canada Post situation is being monitored, and if a mail service suspension is anticipated, a message will be sent to the network to reactivate the special measures included in this OB.

It is anticipated that during a suspension of mail services by Canada Post, the following products frequently used by IRCC will not be available: first class mail (regular mail), Xpresspost, Priority courier and Registered Mail (hereafter “Canada Post mail services”).

It is also anticipated that applications and correspondence to and from clients in the mail system at the time of the service interruption may be held by Canada Post until they resume mail services.

Affected area

All IRCC lines of business can be affected by this situation; thus, the “affected area” cannot be defined further.

Key instructions

In all instances where immediate communication is not urgent or required due to pressing time restrictions, outgoing mail will be held by IRCC until Canada Post resumes mail services. Certain payments by cheque authorized by IRCC (such as refunds and resettlement support payments) will not be held and will be sent by courier or through other arrangements, as available.

Standard application processing times, procedures and statutory requirements remain in place.

Where e-applications are accepted, clients should apply online and upload electronic copies of documents.

Upon resumption of Canada Post mail services and reception of paper applications by IRCC, the postage date stamp will be used to establish a processing order on the “first in, first out” principle.

Unless the instructions included in this OB reflect standard established procedures, they are in effect only during the mail service suspension period.

Electronic copies or messages are to be accepted where allowed for legal purposes; IRCC reserves the right to request an original document at any time.

Communication with clients

Officers are to continue following the standard procedures on communicating with clients via email, as per OB 265-A, Email communication with clients.

If there is no email address on file, officers may call the client to request that one be provided so that an electronic (written) notice can be sent to them or so that other documents can be provided and received. Officers may also call the client to request documents by email or courier.

In instances where further documents are required for processing and where a delay would be problematic, officers should email or telephone the client and request that the documents be provided via email or courier.

Courier shipments by IRCC

Only urgent documents should be sent by courier.

The preferred courier supplier will continue to be determined at the point of shipment, using mailroom software that identifies the best rate across multiple courier service suppliers under the mandatory Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), formerly Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), standing offers.

Courier expenses continue to be borne by the standard responsibility centre, and there is no additional funding for offices to use courier services for mailings usually sent by Canada Post mail services.

Incoming communication (from clients)

Acknowledgement of receipt – Even if clients suspect their shipment has been held by Canada Post during the suspension of mail services, they should contact IRCC to confirm receipt of an application or inquiry only if they do not receive communication from IRCC within established service standards or if the status of their application is not available via RegisterMyApp/MyCIC or eCas.

Case-specific enquiries – Clients should continue to be referred to already-established program- or initiative-specific email accounts, but clients who have case-specific inquiries (including requests for urgent documents) as a result of this situation should be referred to the standard IRCC web form; template letters should be updated with the following link: IRCC web form.

Duplicate requests – To avoid duplication of requests, clients are asked not to scan and email copies of paper applications that have been sent by courier or mail, even if they suspect their shipment has been held by Canada Post during the suspension of mail services. Further, clients are asked not to withdraw any applications that have been made by mail in order to resubmit them online.

Paper applications – Clients who have already sent their applications by mail (paper applications) should register their applications (“link my application”) where applicable. Currently, clients can use Register my App to link visitor visa, work permit, study permit and visitor record paper applications by creating an online MyCIC account. Information on when more applications will be available on Register my App can be found on the following page: Link your paper application to your online account.

For clients who have yet to submit their applications and are unable to use e-application, or for applications not available via e-application, courier services are the next best alternative to submit applications to IRCC. “Cash on delivery” courier shipments will not be accepted by IRCC. Clients should retain proof of the date they mailed their application to IRCC.

Urgent requests (from clients) – Only urgent documents will be distributed by courier. Examples of instances that may call for urgent distribution include the following:

  • the document is required to access benefits like a pension, a social insurance number or health care;
  • the applicant needs to travel in the near future because of a death or serious illness in the family and requires proof of their immigration or citizenship status in order to obtain a travel document (they must include proof of death or serious illness, such as a note from the attending physician);
  • the applicant is unable to attend a Canadian school, college or university because they cannot prove they are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen;
  • immediate loss of employment or of an employment opportunity is faced because the applicant is not in possession of their immigration or citizenship documentation (they must include an original letter from their employer);
  • the applicant has received a decision on a previous application for citizenship that they successfully appealed to the Federal Court.

Clients can request urgent distribution through the standard IRCC web form (IRCC web form). Standard processing times will apply for responses to such inquiries.

Note: In instances where immigration or citizenship applications meet the established urgent processing criteria under standard procedures, documents can be sent by courier once the application has been processed. For example, urgent permanent resident cards (PRCs) will continue to be sent by courier by the Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited (CBN), according to established protocols.

Business line-specific instructions

Temporary residents

Notice of decision – In instances where a delay would be problematic, during the Canada Post mail service cessation—and where possible—it is highly recommended that a notice of decision be sent to the client by email, to allow clients the opportunity to flag any urgent situations to IRCC. Such email messages should indicate that the original document (e.g., study permit, work permit) will be sent by IRCC once Canada Post resumes mail services.

Implied status – Foreign nationals in Canada who require extensions are strongly encouraged to apply through the e-application service. If clients are unable to use the e-application service, they should courier their application to the appropriate IRCC processing office (find out where the application should be sent) and register their application when possible. A foreign national may continue to stay in Canada and work or study under the terms and conditions of the latest admission until a decision is made by IRCC on their application for extension if the application was made before their status expired. There are no “grace periods” in place as a result of this situation.

Restoration period – There are no special measures affecting the duration of the standard 90-day restoration period as a result of this situation. The 90-day restoration period requirement remains in effect. Affected clients who were out of status before, during or after the suspension of mail services by Canada Post must apply for restoration of status within their 90-day restoration period.

Sending work and study permits – As clients often need a work permit or study permit in order to begin school or a new job, IRCC will provide PDF versions of work and study permits on plain paper via MyCIC as an interim solution for online applications and for paper applications where the client has used “registered my application”. Clients are encouraged to register their application to ensure they will receive a copy of their permit when a decision is made on their application. It remains the decision of the educational institution or employer to accept a PDF copy of the permit. All permits will be printed and distributed upon resumption of mail services.

Employer inspections – The Notice of Preliminary Finding and the Final Notice of Determination for employer inspections can be sent by courier.

Employer compliance and non-compliance – Canada Post mail service delays will be factored into determinations of employer compliance and non-compliance for cooperating with International Mobility Program (IMP) inspections. Employers have 30 days from the date of the IMP inspection letter to provide written submissions, after which a final determination can be made. Failure to submit the requested documentation by the due date may result in a determination of non-compliance. If employers require an extension to provide written submissions, they must request one within 30 days of the date of the letter. An officer may extend the deadline by an additional 15 days (for a maximum of 30 days) if there is a reasonable explanation justifying the extension request. The officer must consider the justification and decide whether the request is reasonable. Officers should note that Canada Post delays should be considered as reasonable justification for exceeding the deadlines, but they retain discretion to reject the justification.

Permanent residents

Family class sponsorships – appeal rights letters – As the sponsor has a finite period of time to appeal a negative family class decision, decision letters should be forwarded to the sponsor via any email address previously provided. Where the decision cannot be sent via email, offices should hold decision letters for the duration of the mail service interruption. When Canada Post resumes mail services, client letters should be sent out using the current date (i.e., the date the letter is sent), which will still afford clients 30 days in which to file an appeal.

Haiti and Zimbabwe temporary public policy – Under the February 16, 2016, Haiti and Zimbabwe temporary public policy, clients must submit their applications on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C applications) on or before August 4, 2016, to be eligible for a stay of removal. To ensure applications are submitted before the deadline, they can be submitted by courier, fax or email.

PRCs – The CBN will hold all non-urgent PRC distribution until Canada Post mail services resume. Urgent PRCs will be sent by courier from the CBN to the local IRCC office for distribution per current established procedures.

Inventory reduction exercise for spouses and common-law partners in Canada – Clients may have been contacted by letter to submit documents for their application. Clients should respond to these requests by sending the requested documents to the address provided on the request letter by courier and not by email.

In addition, given the importance of medical furtherance letters, delays in sending these letters will result in delayed assessment of immigration medical examinations and of applicants with conditions of public health significance, which will affect the timeliness of the visa officer’s decision. Consequently, as is already done in some overseas offices, the Migration Health Branch can forward the furtherance request letters to the visa officer, who will email them securely to the client using MyCIC or alternate means available to the visa office.

Refugees

Pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) – There are strict timelines associated with PRRA applications that affect a client’s stay of removal, and applications from detained clients are already processed on a priority basis. PRRA applications and submissions are typically submitted by mail, but clients are encouraged to send them to IRCC by courier. Applications can also be accepted by fax or email if clients cannot send them by courier.

Grants and contributions

Resettlement assistance – Income support payments (cheques) will be provided to clients by program officers or Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at local IRCC offices. The already-established procedures to confirm receipt of cheques by clients should continue to be followed by both program officers and NGOs. For clients already in their permanent residence who are not easily accessible to the program officer and/or NGO, the cheque can be sent directly to the client by courier; however, the courier must obtain sign-off on delivery in order to confirm receipt of the cheque by the client.

Other grants and contributions payments – As of June 27, 2016, all grants and contributions payments except Resettlement Assistance Program – Income Support (RAP-IS) payments are to be processed via direct deposit or withheld until Canada Post resumes mail services. No payment except RAP-IS payments will be sent by courier.

Citizenship

Citizenship events – Events are tests and retests, hearings (officer and judge), interviews and ceremonies. For event notices that cannot be sent before the suspension of mail services by Canada Post, the preferred method of communication is email, but clients can be telephoned where necessary or more efficient. To give clients the benefit of the doubt with respect to attempts to contact IRCC with their reasons for not being able to attend an event, no-shows for any event during the period of mail service suspension by Canada Post can be automatically rescheduled for another date or event with no explanation required.

Other citizenship correspondence – Citizenship decision letters (officer and judge) should be sent by courier. The following citizenship program correspondence should be sent by email: recall letters, revocation letters, “search of records” letters, document requests, fingerprint requests and procedural fairness letters. Where transmission by email is not possible (e.g., distribution of citizenship certificates or proofs), correspondence should be sent by courier. Where a response or information is requested, the deadline for response from clients should be extended by 30 days. Abandonment notices can be sent by email according to the already established office schedules.

Passport program

Non-urgent requests – For non-urgent requests, clients with no upcoming travel plans are encouraged to wait to submit a passport or travel document application to avoid the Canada Post service suspension and the resulting potential long wait times at passport service locations. If the travel document is required sooner, clients are encouraged to submit their application by courier, directly at a passport office or at a Service Canada receiving agent site. The location of passport service locations across Canada can be found on the following page: Find a passport service location near you.

Transfer of documents for passport delivery – Special courier arrangements with Purolator© are in place for the transmission of applications between the processing centres, passport offices and Service Canada receiving agents during the suspension of mail services by Canada Post. As per the usual process, Canadians abroad should continue to apply through the nearest Government of Canada office abroad.

Applicants from the U.S. should be aware that unregistered first class mail will be affected in the event of a Canada Post service disruption.

Effective immediately, applicants from the U.S. should submit applications by certified courier. Canada Post will not be delivering United States Postal Service mail during a Canada Post service interruption. Passport delivery to clients in the U.S. will continue, using the Priority™ Worldwide service (FedEx).

Applicants in need of a passport urgently or for exceptional circumstances (such as illness or death) are asked to contact the nearest Government of Canada passport-issuing office in the U.S. that offers passport services.

Passport collection sites – New passports will be made available for clients to collect from all 33 passport offices (all offices except Pointe-Claire) and 35 additional Service Canada receiving agent sites. The client will be informed of the collection site at the time of application submission. Clients who may have applied prior to the announcement of the suspension of mail services are being informed through outreach activities to contact the Passport Canada Call Centre to confirm their collection site.

Fees – For the most part, fees will still be required for “Urgent”, “Express” and “Pick-up” (service standards of under ten days) during the suspension of mail services. As per normal procedures, there may be a small percentage of clients who have paid for regular service and whose passport was already issued but held within Canada Post who would require a gratis replacement; the pick-up fee will also be waived for such clients. Otherwise, the collection of printed passports (over ten-day service standard plus five days for shipping and sorting to prepare for collection) from the passport office and certain Service Canada receiving agent sites will be available at no additional charge to the client due to IRCC’s inability to deliver to the client’s residence. All urgent passport and travel document requests will be processed urgently for a fee as usual.

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