IRCC no longer automatically extending deadlines for incomplete immigration applications

Shelby Thevenot
Updated: Aug, 21, 2023
  • Published: April 12, 2021

As immigration services start to reopen around the world, Canada's immigration department is scaling back a coronavirus measure that automatically extends deadlines for incomplete immigration applications.

However, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will still provide deadline extensions to people who cannot produce all the required documents for their application, as long as it is due to a COVID-19 disruption.

The change affects citizenship, permanent residence, and temporary residence applicants. Over the coming months, IRCC will contact these applicants and request supporting documents or a reasonable explanation of how a coronavirus-related disruption prevents them from submitting a complete application.

The updated measure is an IRCC effort to speed up decision-making on immigration applications. The department wrote in a media release that having its clients provide their documents will help minimize the impacts to future processing times for all applicants by reducing IRCC's current workload.

IRCC also said that Visitor Visas and Confirmation of Permanent Residence holders are still not allowed to travel to Canada, unless they are otherwise exempt from travel restrictions.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

If IRCC asks you to provide a document

IRCC will send an email or letter that will tell you want documents you need to provide. The immigration department advises affected individuals to get these documents as soon as possible.

"As it can take time to get this information, it’s important to start collecting the documents now, so you will be able to submit them on time when we ask for them," the IRCC media release says.

This means biometrics appointments, for example, should be booked as soon as possible. You can check to see if a service near you is open by viewing the government webpage.

IRCC will send you another request in the coming weeks or months, and you will have 30 days from when you receive it to submit the supporting documents. Afterwards, an immigration officer will make a decision on your application.

For citizenship applicants, if IRCC does not receive your documents after 30 days without explanation, the department may stop processing your application and consider it abandoned.

If you cannot provide the documents

IRCC says officers will be as flexible as possible.

They will be looking for a "reasonable" explanation of how your application is being affected by a COVID-19 disruption within 30 days from the date you receive IRCC's request.

The department gives some examples of reasonable explanations, which could include the following:

  • the temporary closure of a Visa Application Centre or Application Support Centre in your region, which prevents you from providing your biometrics; or
  • a regional or city-wide lockdown that prevents you from getting supporting documents such as police certificates, or undergoing a medical examination.

If the IRCC officer determines that your request for an extension is reasonable based on your explanation, they will extend your deadline for an additional 30 days. If the IRCC officer does not find your request to be reasonable, they will make a decision on your application based on what information they have on file, which could result in your application being refused.

IRCC will inform you of the decision, and you will not need to contact them.

If the department determines that a large number of clients are affected by a lockdown or service-related disruption, they will not contact you to request the supporting documents until the situation is resolved.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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