Resettlement: COVID-19 program delivery

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 page contains guidance for migration offices about the processing of resettlement applicants in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines will change as the situation evolves and as business gradually returns to normal.

Current directive: Travel documents may be issued only to resettlement applicants who meet the travel ban exemption under the Order in Council on March 18, 2020 and, as limited numbers can be finalized for travel given restricted capacity, no action should be taken until confirmed by the Resettlement Operations Division - COVID-19 Coordination Unit.

Legal reference: Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States).

Below are the current guidelines for IRCC offices abroad.

On this page

Exemptions to travel ban

The capacity of resettlement partners abroad and in Canada is limited at this time. While travel ban exemptions may apply, officers must consult with the Resettlement Operations Division – COVID-19 Coordination Unit before approving an applicant.

The following applicants are exempt from the travel ban and require documents to confirm this status:

Exemption 1: Approved on or before March 18, 2020

Includes applicants who were approved for resettlement on or before March 18, 2020, and who hold a permanent resident visa (PRV) and confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) with an issuance date on or before March 18, 2020.

Exemption 2: Immediate need for protection (Urgent Protection Program)

Includes applicants in need of emergency protection who are authorized by the Resettlement Operations Division, and who have received a letter that approves their entry into Canada for national interests.

Exemption 3: Immediate family members in Canada

Includes applicants for resettlement, and those under the one-year window provision, with family members under the expanded definition. Consult: Definition of immediate family members

Intake of applications

Received by email: The Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) will continue to create applications received by email following the usual procedures.

Received by mail: The creation of applications received by mail for the Private Sponsorship of Refugee (PSR) Program was previously on-hold however as of June 8, 2020, creation of mailed applications has resumed.

Prioritization of cases

Applicants in urgent circumstances only will be resettled at this time as authorized by the Resettlement Operations Division – COVID-19 Coordination Unit.

Refugee eligibility assessments

Admissibility assessments

Medical assessment

Applicants may need to undergo a medical re-assessment if their existing results are close to expiry.

Security assessment

Automated screening can still be conducted as usual. Requests for documents or biometrics to support admissibility assessments can still be made.

During this time, due to limited capacity,

Criminality assessment

Automated screening can still be conducted as usual. Requests for documents or biometrics to support admissibility assessments can still be made.

Final decision – resettlement to Canada

Refusing an application under the COVID-19 process: An applicant may still be refused for resettlement if they do not meet the criteria under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations.

Approving an application under the COVID-19 process: As many applicants will be unable to travel at this time, a final approval decision can only be entered when the applicant meets an exemption mentioned in these instructions, or following consultation with the Resettlement Operations Division – COVID-19 Coordination Unit.

Destination in Canada (Government-Assisted Refugee Program only)

A destination cannot be confirmed for new cases due to the limited capacity of partners in Canada at this time unless urgent circumstances exist and it is authorized by the Resettlement Operations Division – COVID-19 Coordination Unit.

Arrangements for departure to Canada

Booking of travel

Travel documents

After arrival in Canada

Upon arrival at the port of entry in Canada, clients will be questioned to confirm their health status and asked for information on their quarantine plan. A border services officer or a Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine officer may contact the sponsor or the service provider organization to obtain this information. For privately sponsored and BVOR refugees, sponsors must ensure that the client has their most current contact information. For government-assisted refugees, the port of entry RAP SPO will provide the contact information and address of the final destination of the refugee.

Responding to client inquiries

A package of frequently asked questions has been developed to respond to client inquiries. Updated versions will be shared through the regular email sent by the International Network relating to COVID-19.

A published resource developed by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) is also available.

Additional questions received from refugees, their family members or other interested persons can be forwarded to the Resettlement Operations Division – COVID-19 Coordination Unit.

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