Those affected by the British Columbia wildfires qualify for free replacement and priority processing of passports and all other Canada citizenship and immigration documents that have been lost or are inaccessible.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has also announced it with provide flexible extensions and restoration of temporary resident status. Requirements for visitors, workers and students will also be waived on a case-by-case basis.
An IRCC statement said: “These special measures also include the replacement, at no cost, of Canadian passports and other travel documents (certificates of identity and refugee travel documents) lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the wildfires with six months validity or more remaining on the documents. The validity period of the replacement document would match that of the original document.”
The ongoing disaster has scorched 467,000 hectares of land, with thousands evacuated from their homes or currently on alert to leave at short notice.
The special measure will remain in place until January 6, 2018. Free replacements are available for the following documents:
- Citizenship certificates.
- Permanent resident cards.
- Verifications of status.
- Work permits.
- Study permits.
- Visitor records.
- Canadian passports.
- Certificates of identity.
- Refugee travel documents.
Extension/Restoration of Status
Work and study permit holders with valid status as of July 7, 2017, can still be granted an extension if their initial permit has expired, provided the application is made before the January 6, 2018 deadline.
Study permit holders subject to the requirement of being actively engaged in their education can apply to have this waived where their institution has been affected by the fire. Again, they are required to have valid status as of July 7, 2017, and apply before the January 6, 2018 deadline.
Fees for all of the above will also be waived until this deadline.
How To Make Citizenship And Immigration Enquiries
The IRCC has set up a dedicated email address to receive enquiries from those affected by the wildfires: [email protected]. Those affected are required to write URGENT: BC WILDFIRES in the subject line and include Unique Client IDs, plus full name, date of birth, city and country of birth.
Those who have been displaced should contact the email address to provide an updated address, while to qualify for special measures you must self-identify and be able to demonstrate how you have been affected.
“All requests will be considered compassionately and on a case-by-case basis,” an IRCC statement says.
Those affected by the wildfires who have already applied for replacement documents and paid the fee will qualify for a refund. Again, they must identify themselves using the above email address.
Applications already made online should be followed up with an email to the above address so they can be marked for urgent processing.
The validity of all replacement documents will match the originals. If a candidate chooses to request a five year or 10-year passport, they will be required to pay the full application fee.