On January 16, 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) announced special immigration measures for Haiti. Shortly after, a unit was set up in Canada to provide support to the visa office in Port-au-Prince by identifying and prioritizing adoption and family class sponsorship applications. On February 15, 2010, CIC published an update on its progress in expediting Haiti cases.
CIC Begins Issuing Permanent Resident Visas
CIC recently began issuing permanent resident visas to some people whose applications were close to being finalized before the earthquake struck Haiti. As of February 14, a total of 22 permanent resident visas have been issued. More visas will be issued in the coming weeks and months.
CIC has set up a unit in Ottawa which is supporting CIC’s office in Haiti by identifying and expediting existing adoption and family class sponsorship applications. The office in Ottawa has responsibility for processing these applications until Port-au-Prince resumes operations.
Priority processing is being given to family class applications for people who self-identify as having been seriously and directly affected by the earthquake. CIC is also processing pre-existing economic class applications through the office in Ottawa.
All applicants must continue to meet all standard admissibility requirements, including security and medical screening. CIC is working closely with its partners to expedite applications while respecting the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect the safety, security and health of Canadians.
Existing Sponsorship Applications
CIC advises that, applicants who had a family class sponsorship application already in process before the earthquake should ask their sponsor in Canada to contact CIC if they haven’t already done so. Sponsors and applicants presently in Canada should notify the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday) or by email at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca to identify their existing applications, if the sponsor or the sponsored family have been significantly and adversely affected. If sponsors choose to contact CIC by email, they should include any pertinent information about the application and all relatives being sponsored.
New Sponsorship Applications
New sponsorship applications should be started in Canada by the sponsor. Once the sponsor has completed the sponsorship application, they should write “Haiti” prominently on the mailing envelope to receive priority handling. The sponsor is responsible for demonstrating that his or her family member is significantly and adversely affected by the situation.
Do No Go the Embassy of Canada Unless Instructed
If applicants have already applied, they should not go the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince unless they have been specifically instructed to do so by CIC officials. Showing up at the Embassy will not cause the application to be expedited.
Only sponsored spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may take their medical exams when submitting an application for permanent residence. All others should only schedule a medical examination when instructed to do so by CIC officials. Applicants who take their medical examination before receiving instructions from CIC officials, will have to take another medical examination at their own expense.