Please note that we will not be providing additional updates to this page. There have been many changes to laws, regulations and policies due to COVID19. We have been in contact with lawyers from across Canada to stay up to date with changes and amendments.
If you have any specific questions on how the changes may impact your application or your situation, please book a consultation with a lawyer.
OK – to mitigate the spread of COVID19, the Ontario government declared that all non-essential services must close starting tomorrow and we expect Manitoba will follow suit soon. The numbers of infected continue to rise and the governments are doing everything in their power.
LAWYERS ARE “ESSENTIAL” SERVICE
The list is out. Lawyers and law firms are considered an essential service. We will continue to monitor the situation. Again, most staff at Clarke Law are working remotely. We only have 2 staff in the office to keep things up and running; however, we are not holding in-person meetings in the office. Feel free to drop off documents and we have been getting daily packages.
NOTE: Immigration consultants are not on the list. As per usual, please contact an appropriate expert for assistance.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
I have to commend our valiant leader PM Trudeau who is working from home in isolation. He is managing his busy household, with 3 young children, by himself while leading our country through very difficult times.
We watch his daily briefings and he remains poised. Lead by example. Well done Sir!
My colleagues in Vancouver have published an episode on The Canadian Immigration Consequences of COVID19. This does not seem to appear on their website (yet) so I would encourage you to find it in your podcast app.
In particular, it is nice to hear some optimism from Deanna!
START IN-CANADA REFUGEE CLAIM BY EMAIL
As the IRCC Offices across Canada have closed due to COVID19, refugee claims in Canada are being submitted by email: IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca
We have been in regular contact with the IRB-RPD (Western Region) and we have been advised that all hearings have been postponed until 1 MAY 2020.
We had a busy weekend. The land border with the USA closed at midnight on Friday due to COVID19, causing a lot of confusion. I am not sure how “Tutor” became part of the definition of “immediate family member”.
IN-PERSON MEETINGS CANCELLED
In our office, most of our staff are working from home. We will continue to work on files and submit applications to maintain high standards. At the same time, we must do our part to fight this COVID19 virus from spreading. We encourage all our clients to contact us by telephone – 2045996966 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
MANITOBA STATE OF EMERGENCY
The provincial government has declared a State of Emergency to manage the spread of COVID19. These are extreme measures for extreme times. We are all taking these measures very seriously and we fully support any and all measures to protect the health and safety of residents.
This means that groups over 50 people are banned. Gyms are closed. Most retail will close. See the government website for details. We are taking this day by day.
ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM USA
The Canadian government has further restricted border entries. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who seek to enter Canada at Ports of Entry will be refused entry. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who attempt irregular crossings into Canada will be returned to the US as part of an “exceptional measure” to protect residents in Canada.
During a news briefing, Minister Blair has acknowledged exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, to filing a refugee claim at the border. Claims at the US-Canada border have decreased by half from ~40 daily to ~20 daily. They will be returned to the USA and the Minister has advised that they will not be detained.
QUARANTINE ACT LEGISLATION
Emergency legislation through the Quarantine Act limits entry to Canada, including “immediate family members” as defined by the new Order. This provides clarity on the previous announcements that will limit access to Canadian soil.
Individuals crossing from the US may be required to spend a period of 14 days in the US due to COVID19 before they will be allowed to enter Canada.
FASTER PROCESSING TIMES
Minister Freeland has indicated that IRCC may be processing applications faster than usual. She has indicated that we need to recognize the need for “speed over attention”. She has emphasized the importance of processing files quickly. We are waiting for confirmation and details from Minister Mendicino’s office.
US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES
The US Government has announced that Visa Offices around the world will be cutting services and canceling appointments. This is an unprecedented decision that will impact thousands of applications.
We believe the Canadian government may issue a similar order to Canadian Visa Offices. If you are in process of submitting an application, we encourage you to submit ASAP while the Visa Offices are still open.
CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS
Through a mutual agreement, the Canadian and US government have agreed to limit travel across the land border to essential travel only. This is an attempt to limit tourism and cross-border shopping. There are exemptions for trade and/or trucking. Governments are working hard due to the numbers of COVID19 infections.
Please note that we have been dealing with the pandemic and monitoring the developments closely. We are trying to reply to all concerns in a systemic and orderly manner.
IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED
Please note that most hearings at the tribunal have been postponed. This included refugee claims, admissibility hearings, and appeals. If you have a hearing that has been scheduled, we will provide updates from the IRB. Currently, the IRB front offce is closed to the public and they have released this message, published in 16/MARCH/2020. IRB Members are working on current cases and we received a positive decision today.
Please note that the Government of Canada has temporarily restricted entry to Canada. Previously, only Canadian citizens, PRs and a few exemptions have been permitted entry. Today, there may be additional restrictions. The situation has been changing daily, based on the risk assessment. If you or your loved ones are seeking entry to Canada, please review the changes that are published on news outlets, including CBC News.
REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS
CBSA has currently suspended all removals from Canada, including Departure Orders, Exclusion Orders and Deportation Orders; however, there are exceptions.
APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC
IRCC has suspended in person meetings with Officers. Currently, they have announced that meetings may resume on 13/APRIL/2020; however, that may change depending on the pandemic.
Successful applications who are scheduled to land and become Permanent Residents, need to contact IRCC if they are unable to travel. This includes COPR and PRV cases.
All biometrics appointments inside Canada have been cancelled until further notice. IRCC has granted an automatic extension of 90 days.
For biometrics appointments outside Canada, please contact the appropriate VAC or ASC.
Please note that CPC Sydney has temporarily closed and the office is not accepting packages. We will be submitting documentation as soon as they resume operations.
CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs
Please keep in mind that CBSA Officers at the border are on the front line. They have put in place measures to keep the Officers safe and, at the same time, follow instructions from Ottawa. We have been advised by other law firms in Canada that POEs may refuse to process applications that are not urgent.
Applications for Permanent Residence and many other applications are being accepted. IRCC is encouraging all applicants to submit online, if possible.
FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW
MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING
We have been monitoring the situation. IRCC is acutely aware of the needs of the farming and agricultural sector. Current border restrictions may impact many workers who have travel plans. At this point, we encourage all temporary workers to monitor the situation closely.
LEGAL AID MANITOBA
LAM has announced that it will accept application online and their office is currently closed.
We want to thank all our clients and partners for continued patience, cooperation and understanding during this COVID29 pandemic. We have taken unprecedented actions to keep our staff safe and healthy. These precautions have been put in place to ensure that we can continue to work and serve our clients. We will continue to do the work that we love; however, we also need to stay safe & healthy.
If you have come to the office recently, you have noticed the new signage. We announced the ban on shaking hands at the beginning of 2020 and we have put in place additional measures to limit personal contact and adhere to social distancing. In addition, starting on March 11th, we have put in place additional cleaning and other procedures to protect the office from viruses. We have added purification systems and many other measures for protection.
We have also put in place additional procedures so that staff can work remotely from home, if necessary. We are monitoring ourselves regularly to make sure we are safe and healthy. We are taking the COVID19 pandemic seriously and we want to make sure that we follow all precautions so that we are not infected and that we do not infect anyone who comes to our office.
Please take all measures to stay healthy.