Notice – Wildfires in British Columbia: special measures

Ottawa, August 18, 2017 – Special measures are now in place to support those affected by the wildfires in British Columbia. These measures include expedited processing and free replacement of Canadian citizenship and immigration documents lost, damaged, destroyed, or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires, as well as flexible extension and restoration of temporary resident status, and the waiving of certain requirements for affected visitors, workers and students.

These special measures also include the replacement, at no cost, of Canadian passports and other travel documents (certificates of identity and refugee travel documents) lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires with six months validity or more remaining on the documents. The validity period of the replacement document would match that of the original document.

Notice to affected residents

As a result of the wildfires in British Columbia, citizenship, immigration and travel documents belonging to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, protected persons and temporary residents may have been lost, damaged, destroyed, or rendered inaccessible. In addition, work and study permit holders may be unable to immediately continue their work or studies because their workplace or designated study institution is not available due to the wildfires.

To support those affected, the Minister has approved special measures to waive fees and other specific requirements for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents and those with protected person status.

Free replacements:

The following documents, if lost, damaged, destroyed, or rendered inaccessible due to the wildfires in British Columbia, may be replaced at no cost and on an urgent priority basis until January 6, 2018:

  • citizenship certificates
  • permanent resident cards
  • verifications of status
  • work permits
  • study permits
  • visitor records
  • Canadian passports
  • certificates of identity
  • refugee travel documents

Free and flexible extension / restoration of status:

Affected work and study permit holders who held valid status on July 7, 2017, may be permitted to apply for an extension of their work or study permit even after their initial work or study permit has expired if the application is made before January 6, 2018.

The requirement to be actively studying and making progress toward a degree, diploma or certificate may also be waived for applications received before January 6, 2018, for affected study permit holders who held valid status on July 7, 2017, and whose designated learning institution has been affected by the wildfires.

Fees for study permit extensions and work permit extensions are waived for applications affected by affected temporary residents received before January 6, 2018.  Standard work and study permit extension fees and requirements will be applied to applications received on or after January 6, 2018.

Citizenship and immigration enquiries: Procedures and contact information

A dedicated email address has been activated by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Client Support Centre to receive all immigration or citizenship enquiries related to this crisis situation: IRCC.Wildfires-Feux.IRCC@cic.gc.ca.  If you have questions, email IRCC.Wildfires-Feux.IRCC@cic.gc.ca and write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” in the subject line. Include your Unique Client ID (UCI#) if known, as well as your full name, date of birth, city and country of birth.

If you have been displaced as a result of the wildfires and are no longer reachable through the contact information you provided to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in the past, you are encouraged to provide updated contact information via the dedicated email address.

To qualify for the special measures, you must self-identify to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and be able to demonstrate that your residence, place of work and/or designated learning institution has been directly affected by the wildfires.

All requests will be considered compassionately and on a case-by-case basis. 

Refunds: If you were affected by the wildfires and have made an application to replace an immigration or citizenship document listed above since July 7, 2017, and before January 6, 2018, and paid the applicable fee when you applied, you can request a refund by sending an email to the dedicated email address (IRCC.Wildfires-Feux.IRCC@cic.gc.ca). Include your Unique Client ID (UCI#) if known, as well as your full name, date of birth, city and country of birth.

Applications made online: If you were affected by the wildfires and have already submitted electronic applications for replacement immigration or citizenship documents, or status extensions, you should immediately send a follow-up email to the dedicated email address (IRCC.Wildfires-Feux.IRCC@cic.gc.ca) with your full name, date of birth and country of birth, as well as your Unique Client ID (UCI#) or Application ID number to allow Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to flag the application for urgent processing. These messages must indicate “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” in the subject heading.

Passport and travel document enquiries: procedures and contact information

If you have been displaced as a result of the wildfires and are no longer reachable through the contact information you provided to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or Service Canada in the past, you are encouraged to provide updated contact information to Service Canada through the call centre at 1-800-567-6868. 

If your mail delivery has been affected by the wildfires and you have not received the travel document or Canadian passport you were expecting by mail on or after July 7, 2017, and the standard processing time has passed, call the Passport Program at 1-800-567-6868 to enquire about next steps. 

Free replacement of travel documents, including passports, applies to documents issued with the same expiry date of the document that was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires. If you choose to apply for a new Canadian passport (with 5 or 10 years validity), you must pay the standard fees.

If your citizenship certificate or card was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee will not be charged. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

Note that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada no longer issues the plastic wallet-sized citizenship cards.

If your valid Canadian passport (with more than six months to its expiry date) was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the application fee will not be charged. The additional fee to report a lost passport or travel document also will be waived. The replacement travel document will be valid for the same length of time as the original travel document. The cost of photos for your replacement passport or travel document application will not be reimbursed.

If you need your passport replacement urgently, follow the process outlined above, but apply to the passport service location nearest you that offers urgent and express service in Canada. You must provide proof of travel such as an airline ticket or a Declaration of Proof of Travel - Disaster Assistance (PDF, 85.29KB) for travel by motor vehicle.

If your permanent resident card was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee to replace your PR card will not be charged. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

If you travelled outside Canada without your permanent resident card because it was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires, you need to apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document before returning to Canada:

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis.

Please apply for your replacement permanent resident card once you have returned to Canada and confirmed that it has been lost, damaged or destroyed by the wildfires. To qualify for free replacement, you must make your application before January 6, 2018, using the process listed above.

If your landing documents were lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee will not be charged. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

If your immigration status document (visitor record, study or work permit) was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee will not be charged. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

If your temporary status will expire before January 6, 2018:

If you held valid status as temporary resident in the affected areas on July 7, 2017, a grace period will be granted to extend or restore your temporary status if you make your application before January 6, 2018. The fee to extend your status will not be charged.

If you are a temporary resident who was out of status on July 7, 2017, you must apply for restoration by the end of your 90-day restoration period.

To extend or restore your status as a visitor:
To extend or restore your status as a worker:
  • complete an Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada as a Worker, and
  • provide an explanation of your situation (how you have been affected by the wildfires) in a signed letter along with acceptable proof of residence or workplace in an affected area, such as a government-issued identity document (original or copy) or utility bill showing a residential address located in the affected area, and
  • Provide the name and address of your employer in the affected area and acceptable proof that the place of employment is not operational due to the crisis situation (e.g. a signed letter from your employer on company letterhead or a media article stating your place of employment is not operational or a copy of a notice posted on the company’s website), and
  • send them to the  Case Processing Centre (Work Permit) in Vegreville, Alberta

If you have an employer-specific work permit and would like to work for a new employer:

If you have an employer-specific work permit and your place of employment is no longer available due to the wildfires, your new employer must first name you in a Labour Market Impact Assessment application with Service Canada before you can apply for a work permit to work for them. You may not begin working for a new employer until a new work permit has been approved.

If you have found a new employer with a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment who wishes to hire you: 

  • complete an Application to Work in Canada - Work Permit, and
  • provide the name and address of your employer in the affected area and acceptable proof that your place of employment for the original work permit is not operational due to the crisis situation (for example, a signed letter from your employer on company letterhead or a media article stating the place of employment is not operational or a copy of a notice posted on the company’s website), and
  • send them to the Case Processing Centre (Work Permit) in Vegreville, Alberta

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application must be made before January 6, 2018. It will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee will not be charged. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

To extend or restore your status as a student:
  • complete an Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada as a Student, and
  • provide an explanation of your situation (how you have been affected by the wildfires) in a signed letter along with acceptable proof showing a residential address located in the affected area, as well as the name and address of their designated learning institution in the affected area and acceptable proof that the DLI is not operational due to the crisis situation (e.g. a signed letter from your designated learning institution on school letterhead, a media article, a broadcast email to students stating that classes are suspended due to the crisis situation or a copy of a notice posted on the institution’s website), and
  • send them to the Case Processing Centre (Study Permit) in Vegreville, Alberta

Write “URGENT: BC WILDFIRES” on the cover of the envelope and on the first page of your application or covering document.

Your application will be processed on an expedited basis and the fee will not be charged if you make your application before January 6, 2018. If you apply online, indicate that your application is fee-exempt under the special measures and request that the fee not be charged in the appropriate section of your application.

If your valid certificate of identity or refugee travel document (with more than six months to its expiry date) was lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires:

If you need your travel document replacement urgently, follow the process outlined above, but apply to the passport service location nearest you that offers urgent and express service in Canada. You must provide proof of travel such as an airline ticket or a Declaration of Proof of Travel - Disaster Assistance (PDF, 85.29KB) for travel by motor vehicle.

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