Canada Reopens Certain Visa Application Centres as Coronavirus Restrictions Ease


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Certain Canada Visa Application Centres have resumed offering limited services after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The collection of biometrics is among the services being offered, although Canada travel restrictions remain in place.

“Currently, you can travel to Canada only if you are exempt from the travel restrictions or are coming for an essential purpose. All travellers arriving into Canada must quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival,” said a notice from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Strict safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place at the nine VACs, which reopened on June 11.

The nine VACs to open are:

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel
  2. Erbil, Iraq
  3. Vienna, Austria
  4. Düsseldorf, Germany
  5. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  6. Tokyo, Japan
  7. Osaka, Japan
  8. The Hague, Netherlands
  9. Rome, Italy

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IRCC hopes that by opening VACs and moving applications along, they will be able to expedite processing once travel restrictions are lifted.

“The health and safety of VAC and IRCC staff, as well as that of our clients, is our top priority,” the notice said. 

“IRCC, along with all its government partners, continues to closely monitor the situation and any impact on clients and our operations.”

IRCC says that no immigration application will be cancelled because of an inability to acquire or submit relevant documents because of the coronavirus crisis, particularly in the case of biometrics collection.

Candidates will not have to give biometrics until the collection sites reopen, IRCC says. The extension applies even if a candidate’s biometrics instruction letter gives a 30 or 90-day deadline.

“No application in progress will be closed or refused because of documents that are missing due to COVID-19,” IRCC has said.

Certain temporary foreign workers crucial to the battle against coronavirus are exempt from having to give biometrics before arrival.

The exemption applies to occupations in the following fields:

  • Agricultural and agri-food
  • Health-care
  • Truck drivers

IRCC issued a Temporary Public Policy to implement the change on June 5, 2020.

The number of candidates affected by the change is limited, as the majority of temporary workers in essential occupations have already given biometrics because they have previously worked in Canada.

Candidates may be asked to provide biometrics when they arrive at their Port of Entry, IRCC says.

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