Canada’s immigration department will soon offer in-person services by appointment.
Immigration services that are not available virtually will begin to resume on September 21.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is testing out the new protocols and procedures for offering in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The services being offered next week include:
- Citizenship: Vancouver Expo will be reopening for citizenship knowledge re-testing and citizenship hearings for a select cohort of applicants. IRCC will schedule appointments by email.
- Permanent residence: IRCC offices will reopen for permanent residence-related services in Etobicoke, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. People who need to pick up their permanent residence card, or do their permanent residence interview (permanent residence determination) will be contacted by IRCC via email to schedule an appointment.
- Asylum: Limited asylum-related services will resume at IRCC offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Niagara Falls. IRCC will schedule appointments via epost, Canada Post’s online service, with clients who need to collect or submit documents, provide their biometric information, or come in for an interview. They also say that if the pilot “goes well” they will open offices to provide asylum services in Vancouver (Hornby), Montreal, and Etobicoke in the future.
“IRCC will contact clients to book appointments based on their file status, location in Canada and other factors,” the immigration department’s media release says, “Client selection is largely based on the date of the client’s application.”
IRCC will only allow immigration candidates to use in-person services if they have a scheduled appointment.
The immigration department will also start making biometrics appointments. Permanent residence applicants in Canada waiting to give biometrics will receive a call from Service Canada over the next few months to book an appointment. People living in a region where more people are waiting to give biometrics, such as the Greater Toronto Area, may have to wait longer for the call, IRCC says.
“We know that this is a challenging and frustrating time and we are grateful for your patience,” IRCC writes. “Service Canada will contact you as soon as they can.”
They also warn that permanent residence applicants waiting on biometrics should not go to a Service Canada Centre unless they have been called for an appointment. Applicants whose contact information has changed or if they had a representative apply on their behalf can update their details on the IRCC webform.
Safety measures at IRCC offices
In an effort to protect IRCC staff and clients from coronavirus, the following safety measures are being put in place:
- Clients are asked to complete a Health Canada self-assessment questionnaire before coming in for an appointment.
- These questions will be asked again when clients arrive at the office so that IRCC can determine if clients can enter the premises.
- Everyone must wear a mask, maintain social distance, and follow signs directing the flow of foot traffic.
- If clients appear ill, they will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
IRCC shut down services on March 18 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Over the past few months, immigration services have been offered virtually where possible but services have been significantly reduced.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and regional health authorities set the guidelines and recommendations for operating services during the pandemic. IRCC is monitoring the offices where in-person services are offered to help plan for reopening more services in the future.