General processing measures: COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

These COVID-19 program delivery instructions are for new and existing temporary residence, permanent residence and citizenship applications in Canada and abroad.

All immigration and citizenship applications currently in progress at IRCC will continue to be processed but may experience delays.

Due to the volume of cases, the International Network’s applications are being tracked by the Operations Planning and Performance Branch (OPPB).

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Expedited processing

The decision to expedite an application due to special circumstances remains at the discretion of IRCC, including the migration program manager of the responsible IRCC office and the manager of the responsible processing office in Canada.

Requests for additional documents on open applications

The COVID-19 facilitation, where request letters for additional information or documents were issued with 90-day extensions, applies until April 11, 2021.

Starting April 12, 2021, an officer will send a final request letter with a 30-day deadline to the affected applicants, to allow the applicant to provide either of the following:

Officers will send the letter through “Outgoing Correspondence” in the Global Case Management System (GCMS). Once applicants receive their final request letter, they will have the option to upload their missing documents online.

After the final 30-day time frame has expired for the request for additional information, officers will use their discretion to either

Applications received on or after April 12, 2021, should be submitted with all of the mandatory supporting documents or a reasonable explanation with proof why the applicant cannot obtain the document at this time. Existing instructions (non-COVID) with processing guidance is in effect for officers who require additional information or documents following application review.

Applications with missing medical exams

If an officer receives an application with a missing immigration medical examination (IME), the current 30-day submission period is a reasonable time frame to expect the client to undergo the exam. If a physician is not available in the client’s area, it can be confirmed by the appropriate regional medical office (RMO) and the officer can make a reasonable decision as to whether to leave the application open or not. Officers may continue to request reassessments for expired IMEs where available using existing guidance.

Applications with missing biometrics

For applications with missing biometrics, if a public policy waiver does not apply, officers can determine whether biometric collection is available in the applicant’s region and if efforts have been made to book an appointment.

Officers should review the operational status of biometrics collection sites in advance of making a final decision to validate the information provided by the client. The list of sites includes details of whether the sites are open or closed, or operating with limited services, as well as contact information for further validation:

It is important that officers document their decision in the notes tab in GCMS.

Work permit applications with missing information

When sending the final request for additional information for work permit renewal applications (that is, applicants who had a valid work permit when the application was submitted), officers should add the following statement into the “Other” paragraph in the request letter:

If the work permit application is a renewal of a previous work permit:

Your authority to work is continued under paragraph 186(u) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) for an additional 180 days from the date of this letter or until a final decision is made, whichever comes first.

If the work permit application was submitted after graduation but while the study permit was still valid:

You are authorized to work for any employer, in any occupation, with no restriction on hours for 180 days from the date of this letter or until a decision is made on your application, whichever comes first.

This period of work is authorized as per subsection R186(w).


Due to COVID-19, some biometrics collection sites are closed or are not offering biometrics collection. These sites include certain

The biometric instruction letter (BIL) has reverted to the pre-pandemic time frames in GCMS. It now advises applicants that they have 30 days from the date of the letter to give their biometrics. If the applicant makes the case that their local biometrics collection site remains closed, officers can continue to extend the deadline until the site reopens. The BIL will remain valid. Learn more about applications with missing biometrics.

Applicants are advised to keep informed of the status of local biometric service points and to keep their original BIL, as it will be required at the biometrics collection point once service resumes.

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