COVID-19 Q&A

Questions relating to refugee claims

Can a person still make a refugee claim in Canada?

  • People who are inside Canada can still make a refugee claim. See these instructions to contact IRCC in order to make a claim. IRCC will provide an Acknowledgement of Claim. Processing of the claim, including the interview for eligibility, is postponed.
  • Claims cannot be made at the US-Canada border. People who come to a land Port of Entry or who cross irregularly (for example, at Roxham Road) will have their application deferred and will be sent back to the US. There are exceptions for unaccompanied minors, US citizens and (if the US citizens are minors) their parents.
  • Legally, it is possible to make a refugee claim at an airport if you arrive by plane, but in practice most people who might want to make a refugee claim are prevented from boarding a plane to Canada.

Are eligibility interviews for refugee claimants still taking place

  • All interviews with IRCC officials have been suspended.
  • In contrast, as of 20 March, CBSA eligibility interviews were still continuing.
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What is happening with refugee claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board?

Has CBSA suspended removals?

As of 17 March, CBSA suspended most removals for a period of three weeks (until approximately 7 April, but that will likely be extended).

There are exceptions (although practically it is difficult for anyone to travel):

  • Person wants to voluntarily leave
  • Person presents serious inadmissibility issues (with approval of Headquarters)

What measures are in place for people who have conditions requiring them to report in person to CBSA?

CCR is asking CBSA Headquarters for full information and we will post as soon as we receive answers. In the meantime, these are some regional arrangements:

  • BC Lower Mainland: CBSA is calling affected people to ask them to report by telephone until further notice (mostly one or two days in advance of scheduled reporting). Affected individuals who have not heard from CBSA can call 604-666-8769.
  • Greater Toronto Area (GTA): The Bond Reporting Centre at 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, is closed and the phone is not being answered (and voicemails are not monitored). Affected people should send an email to enquiries222@cbsa.gc.ca, giving their name and immigration ID number.
  • Montreal: Affected people now need to call one of these numbers instead of appearing in person: 438-340-7985 or 438-340-8117. Phone calls are only accepted 8am-12 noon and 1pm – 4pm and there is no voice mail. If the line is busy, the person must keep calling until they reach an agent.

Can people travelling on a Refugee Travel Document fly back to Canada?

  • Yes (if they can find a flight). Protected Persons are one of the categories exempted from the travel ban.

 

Questions relating to resettled refugees

Are payments on refugee travel loans suspended?

Can people travelling on a Refugee Travel Document fly back to Canada?

  • Yes (if they can find a flight). Protected Persons are one of the categories exempted from the travel ban.

 

Questions relating to International Students

Are International Students eligible to healthcare coverage related to COVID-19 throughout Canada?

It varies by provinces and insurance plans vary by school/workplace.

In British-Columbia: migrants with "implied status" may be provided temporary MSP (medical services plan) coverage

Expired Temporary Work or Study Permits

If your temporary permits have expired and you no longer have MSP coverage, you may be provided temporary MSP coverage if:

  • You are currently living in BC
  • You were previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident
  • Your MSP has expired

Contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage

In Ontario: all migrants, including uninsured, can access free coverage for COVID-19 related services

In Quebec: all migrants, including uninsured, can access free temporary RAMQ (Régime de l'assurance maladie du Québec) coverage for COVID-19 related services.

Do online courses in the context of COVID-19 affect Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) eligibility?

NO. Online courses from COVID-19 circumstances will not affect PGWP eligibility

Specific information for sessions starting this Fall:

  • PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19.
  • Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.
  • Students will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

Are International Students eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

YES, regardless of the immigration status.

General information

  • You can apply for the CERB through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) but not both. 
  • CERB provides a payment of $2000 for a 4-week period ($500 per week) for up to 16 weeks (4 months). It is a temporary measure and will end on October 3 2020
  • It is taxable
  • You will need an active SIN (Social Insurance Number) when applying

Who is eligible?

  • You are residing in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • You earned a minimum of $5000 (before taxes) in the last 12 months (in Canada or elsewhere)
  • You have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19
  • When submitting your first claim you have not earned more that $1000 (before taxes) for at least 14 days in a row during the 4 weeks period payment
  • When submitting subsequent claims you have not earned more that $1000 (before taxes) for the entire 4 weeks benefit period of your new claim

Nota bene

  • You will not be asked to provided supporting documentation when applying. However, when doing your taxes in 2021 the financial administration will follow-up and if they find you were not eligible for the CERB you will be asked to reimburse the amounts paid.

Are International Students eligible for other income support, if not eligible for CERB?

YES

Employment Insurance (EI)- regular benefits: conditions

  • You have lost your job (through no fault of your own) or have had you hours reduced by 40% or more;
  • You have worked between 420 to 700 hours in the last 52 weeks
  • You were employed in insurable employment
  • The benefit will be paid for 14 up to 45 weeks depending upon the unemployment rates in your region
  • There is a 1 week waiting period
  • The benefit is taxable

Employment Insurance (EI) - special benefits : specifications

Sickness - up to 15 weeks

  • You need to call 1-833-381-2725 to apply
  • The 1 week wait period and the doctor's medical certificate are waived

Caregiving - up to 35 weeks (for a child) or 15 weeks (for an adult)

Compassionate care - up to 26 weeks

Maternity - up to 15 weeks

Parental - up to 40 weeks (standard) or 69 weeks (extended)

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) top-up: conditions

  • You were already getting the benefit
  • You are on a study permit it requires you have 18 months of residence
  • The May benefit can be topped-up by up to $300/month (depending upon your income from last tax year)
  • Applies to all parents, not just those affected by school closures

Good and Services Tax (GST) Credit: 

  • Increase of the April 2020 GST credit by up to $400 for singles, $600 for couples, $150 per child (maximum)

Can International Students be evicted for not paying their rent?

No they cannot in Ontario and British Columbia. We are waiting for infomation on other provinces. 

Are International Students allowed back in Canada with the new travel ban measures?

Yes, International Students are among the exemption from travel ban as long as:

  • they have a valid student permit or were issued a letter of invitation dated on or before March 18;
  • and they were already enrolled or were accepted to a designated learning institution (DLI).

In order to board the plane, they will have to:

However, it is mandatory for them to self quarantine for 14 days. 

Are immigration applications postponed?

No, the applications are still being processed but there will be delays. Automatic extensions will be applied for biometrics, passport and medical.

IRCC recommands that you include a letter of explanation when possible. For exemple: I need to renew my passport as it has become expired during the COVID-19 crisis. 

 

Questions relating to Migrant Workers

Do migrant workers have access to healthcare coverage related to COVID-19 throughout Canada?

It varies from on province to the other.

In British-Columbia: migrants with "implied status" may be provided temporary MSP (medical services plan) coverage

Expired Temporary Work or Study Permits

If your temporary permits have expired and you no longer have MSP coverage, you may be provided temporary MSP coverage if:

  • You are currently living in BC
  • You were previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident
  • Your MSP has expired

Temporary Foreign Workers

Temporary foreign workers in B.C. with a permit of less than 6 months, who would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP, will be provided temporary MSP coverage to July 31, 2020 or the end of your permit, whichever is sooner.

In both cases you need to contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage

In Ontario: all migrants, including uninsured, can access free temporary OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) coverage for COVID-19 related services.

In Quebec: all migrants, including uninsured, can access free temporary RAMQ (Régime de l'assurance maladie du Québec) coverage for COVID-19 related services.

Are Migrant Workers eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

YES, regardless of the immigration status.

General information

  • You can apply for the CERB through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) but not both. 
  • CERB provides a payment of $2000 for a 4-week period ($500 per week) for up to 16 weeks (4 months). It is a temporary measure and will end on October 3 2020
  • It is taxable
  • You will need an active SIN (Social Insurance Number) when applying

Who is eligible?

  • You are residing in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • You earned a minimum of $5000 (before taxes) in the last 12 months (in Canada or elsewhere)
  • You have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19
  • When submitting your first claim you have not earned more that $1000 (before taxes) for at least 14 days in a row during the 4 weeks period payment
  • When submitting subsequent claims you have not earned more that $1000 (before taxes) for the entire 4 weeks benefit period of your new claim

Nota bene

  • You will not be asked to provided supporting documentation when applying. However, when doing your taxes in 2021 the financial administration will follow-up and if they find you were not eligible for the CERB you will be asked to reimburse the amounts paid.

Are Migrant Workers eligible for other income support, if not eligible for CERB?

YES

Employment Insurance (EI)- regular benefits: conditions

  • You have lost your job (through no fault of your own) or have had you hours reduced by 40% or more;
  • You have worked between 420 to 700 hours in the last 52 weeks
  • You were employed in insurable employment
  • The benefit will be paid for 14 up to 45 weeks depending upon the unemployment rates in your region
  • There is a 1 week waiting period
  • The benefit is taxable

Employment Insurance (EI) - special benefits : specifications

Sickness - up to 15 weeks

  • You need to call 1-833-381-2725 to apply
  • The 1 week wait period and the doctor's medical certificate are waived

Caregiving - up to 35 weeks (for a child) or 15 weeks (for an adult)

Compassionate care - up to 26 weeks

Maternity - up to 15 weeks

Parental - up to 40 weeks (standard) or 69 weeks (extended)

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) top-up: conditions

  • You were already getting the benefit
  • The May benefit can be topped-up by up to $300/month (depending upon your income from last tax year)
  • Applies to all parents, not just those affected by school closures

Good and Services Tax (GST) Credit: 

  • Increase of the April 2020 GST credit by up to $400 for singles, $600 for couples, $150 per child (maximum)

Will open work permits for vulnerable workers continue to be processed?

Yes. IRCC recognizes that the current crisis may exacerbate some situations of family violence and vulnerability, and remains available for the critical processing of applications for Open Work Permit (OWP) for vulnerable workers (online applications only). 

 

Questions relating to Temporary resident permits for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and for Victims of family violence

Will Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) for victims of family violence and for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and open work permits for vulnerable workers continue to be processed?

Yes. IRCC recognizes that the current crisis may exacerbate some situations of family violence and vulnerability, and remains available for the critical processing of applications for Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for Victims of Trafficking in Persons (VTIPs), Open Work Permit (OWP) for vulnerable workers (online applications only), and TRPs for victims of family violence

Will scheduled interviews for applicants for TRPs for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and for victims of family violence proceed? What alternative mechanisms will be used?

Yes. IRCC will continue to facilitate the processing of VTIP TRPs and TRPs for victims of family violence.

Program delivery has been altered to minimize client interaction, and to ensure the safety and security of IRCC staff and clients.

Scheduled in-person interviews will not proceed, but rather local offices will contact clients for a telephone interview, if required.

If possible, applicants are encouraged to provide a safe telephone number or email address, so that IRCC officers can reach them directly. 

Are there plans to issue interim three-month TRPs for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and Victims of Family Violence, to allow applicants to access basic services?

No. IRCC does not intend to issue "interim" TRPs.

IRCC remains available for the critical processing of VTIP TRPs and TRPs for victims of family violence, and it remains at the discretion of the officer processing the application to determine the duration of the TRP.

IRCC will continue to assess the needs of these clients as they arise, and respond in the most appropriate and facilitative way. 

Can IRCC ensure that interviews for TRPs for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and Victims of Family Violence, take place within 5-10 days of an application being submitted?

Applications for VTIP TRPs and TRPs for victims of family violence continue to be processed on a priority basis, and they have been considered an essential service by IRCC during the current health crisis.

Since our local offices have minimal staff on site and officers are teleworking, IRCC is working with the resources that have been made available to meet the urgent demands of these applicants. 

Given potential impediments to the application process during the current crisis, can IRCC ensure that an applicant for a VTIP TRP will not be penalized for the time lag before being able to apply for a VTIP TRP renewal? Similarly, will IRCC ensure that any time lag due to the crisis will not have an impact on TRP holders' pathway to permanent residence?

Applicants must still apply for a subsequent TRP in advance of their initial TRP expiring.

IRCC remains facilitative at this time, and will adopt the most appropriate way for clients to apply for a subsequent TRP, to ensure that there is no time lag between their TRP expiring and the assessment of a subsequent TRP.

The VTIP TRP will remain a mechanism for the client to maintain their temporary resident status in Canada.