COVID-19 Q&A

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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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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.

What is happening with refugee claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board?

Are payments on refugee travel loans suspended?

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.

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

Yes, regardless of the immigration status, they are eligible for the CERB as far as:

  • they are at least 15 years old
  • they earned a minimum of $5000 in the last 12 months (in Canada or elsewhere)
  • they stopped working because of COVID-19 or in the last two weeks
  • they are not getting any income from their work and are not otherwise getting the EI (Employment Insurance Benefits)

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. 

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

For now we know only about British Colombia, Ontario and Québec who have granted temporary free access to health systems. 

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 VTIP TRPs and TRPs 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.