Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Priority Processing – Response to the Situation in Iran

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has developed the following special procedures to respond in a flexible and humane manner to the operational situation in Tehran.

These instructions provide procedures for officers inland and overseas to assist Iranian nationals applying for temporary residence in Canada, particularly those with close family ties to Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in Canada.

A) Overseas – New applications for temporary residence

Effective immediately, Damascus, Abu Dhabi, and Ankara are designated as processing offices to receive and process new applications for temporary residence from Iranian nationals still in Iran for the purposes of section 11 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Due to legal restrictions on the movement of Iranian passports across international borders, applicants applying to the three new missions may choose to submit their applications in person. Alternatively, they can submit their applications with the corresponding fee and a photocopy of their passport by mail or by courier, following the procedures of each mission pertaining to the submission of fees. When the visa office has made a determination on the application, they will notify the applicant of the decision. Those who have been approved will be asked to submit their original passport in person to the visa office where they applied.

Priority processing will be applied to applications for temporary residence from applicants with family emergencies or other compelling humanitarian and compassionate circumstances that would justify priority processing. The visa office will continue to identify, where possible, those cases in their temporary resident inventory to which these factors apply.

Should the operational situation in Iran change, the visa office will prioritize temporary resident applications from Iranian nationals who can demonstrate that they are negatively affected. It remains the applicant or sponsor’s responsibility to demonstrate that they are negatively affected.

B) Medical and security requirements

The safety and security of Canada remain CIC’s top priority. All immigration requirements, including security and medical criteria, must still be met.

Cases which require further investigation will be processed as usual. Visa officers must continue to follow established security screening protocols.

C) Enquiries to the Call Centre

In situations where general advice is being sought, for example where Canadian citizens or permanent residents are inquiring about how to advance the priority of a relative’s temporary resident visa application that is already in process, they should be advised to instruct their relative overseas to demonstrate to the visa office that they are negatively affected, if they have not already done so.

D) In-Canada – Temporary residents (extensions for visitors, work and study permits)

No priority processing is required as applicants have implied status until a decision is made and they are notified [R183(5)]. Where a client has identified a hardship due to the situation in Iran, the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville will take this as an additional factor to be considered within existing guidelines. No special measures have been created due to the events in question.

E) Landings of protected persons (that include a person residing in Iran)
Existing applicants in Canada – CPC-Vegreville

If the applicant has already submitted an application for landing as a protected person to the CPC in Vegreville, and the application includes a person overseas who has been directly affected by the situation in Iran, these cases will be processed on a priority basis as well.

The onus is on the client (sponsor or protected person in Canada) to identify existing applications by notifying the Call Centre. They must provide information regarding their application and their relatives in Iran (including the HPM receipt number).This information will be forwarded to the appropriate CPC or inland local office, which will retrieve the application and take appropriate action.

Upon notification that the file has been forwarded to the visa office, the onus is on the sponsor or in-Canada applicant to inform the overseas relative(s) to contact the visa office.

F) Processing fees
There is no fee exemption unless already prescribed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations.

Context of the Enhanced Driver’s Licence (EDL) and Enhanced Identification Card (EIC) Programs

As of June 1, 2009, a new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative rule requires that all travellers to the United States (U.S.A.) present a passport or other secure document that is deemed acceptable by the U.S.Customs and Border Protection for entry by land and water into the U.S.A.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has worked closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to support interested provinces and territories in the development and implementation of the Enhanced Driver’s Licence (EDL) and/or the Enhanced Identification Card (EIC). These secure documents denote identity and Canadian citizenship for the purpose of cross-border travel into the U.S.A. at land and water ports of entry. They are an alternate document to the Canadian passport. For the purposes of this operational bulletin “EDL” will refer to both the EDL and the EIC.

The EDL is a voluntary program open to all Canadian citizens residing in a province or territory that has implemented an EDL program. As part of the application process, EDL applicants are required to provide proof of Canadian citizenship to the provincial EDL issuing authority as well as to complete a citizenship questionnaire.

The provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia have negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with CIC and the CBSA prior to the implementation of their respective EDL programs. This initiative may have an impact on the operations of the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia and the Call Centre, as it is possible that many cross-border travellers will seek confirmation of Canadian citizenship in order to apply for an EDL. It is also possible that provincial EDL issuing authorities will contact the local CIC office for information.

Who can apply for an EDL?

Provinces require that each applicant complete an EDL application and provide documentary evidence of Canadian citizenship and identity. For additional information on each province’s individual application requirements consult their website:

British Columbia:




Some provinces will also issue an EIC to persons who are not licensed to drive. Individuals will be allowed to hold either an EDL or an EIC, not both.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Resources better spent on UN-approved refugees: Kenney

By Laura Payton Published September 9, 2009

As part of its efforts to reform Canada's refugee system, the government wants to bring in more refugees designated by the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
This, he argues, would be a much more effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, benefitting people who are really facing persecution, instead of the thousands of "fake" applicants who apply within Canada each year.
In recent months, Mr. Kenney has spoken extensively about his desire to reform Canada's refugee system. He has made it clear that he wants to lower the number of applications made within Canada, which has created a backlog of more than 60,000 applications and costs the government millions of dollars in social assistance while claimants await their hearings.
"My concern is more broadly with how easy it is to abuse Canada's generosity and for non-refugees to immigrate to Canada through the back door of our asylum system using the long processing times and the...various levels of appeal, to string out a fake asylum claim to several years of residency in Canada and sometimes ultimately to gain permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds," Mr. Kenney said in an interview last week.
The minister says resources aren't properly spent the way the system works now, and that real refugees in desperate need of assistance are being allowed to languish in limbo as others take advantage of Canada's system. He wants to see that situation reversed.
"It's a question of a compassionate allocation of resources away from massive legal costs and social support for de facto immigrants who are gaming our system and abusing our generosity to additional resources for real victims of persecution abroad, most of whom are living in untenable situations in UN refugee camps," he said.
"It's ridiculous that Canada provides enormous benefits to fake refugee claimants, who are de facto immigrants, who have the effect of clogging up our asylum system and delaying processing times for real victims of persecution, and of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of public resources on people who are making fraudulent asylum claims, while at the same time there are millions of people stuck in UN refugee camps who can't return to their home[s]."
Canada is accepting thousands of Bhutanese Hindu, Burmese Karen, Burmese Rohingya and Iraqi refugees, all of whom live in refugee camps, said Mr. Kenney.
The Conservative government, over the years, has made a point of highlighting the admittance of such groups into Canada whenever they have occurred, and Mr. Kenney said he would like to increase such intakes.
"Those who are opposing any kind of positive change or reform, those who are ideologically married to the status quo, don't have a leg to stand on. They're saying we should spend billions of dollars and gum up our asylum system [here] rather than using those resources to help resettle bona fide UN convention refugees to Canada. I don't think they could be more wrong on this issue," Mr. Kenney said.
But Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council on refugees, says Canada has international human rights obligations to help refugees who apply inside the country.
"We hear very frequently about people casting the refugees 'over there' as being the good refugees, while those who are in Canada are portrayed as the bad refugees. We totally reject this division of the world's refugees," she said. "They're not different categories of people, they're refugees who are in need of our protection."
She is also skeptical that a government that saves money on its refugee claimant process will spend it on helping refugees living abroad.
"Many people say...if we spend less money in Canada we can do more for refugees overseas. That is a kind of trade-off that is often spoken about but rarely acted upon," said Ms. Dench.