April 29, 2021

IRCC No Longer Providing Automatic Extensions for Missing Documents

Posted by Athena Portokalidis - Bellissimo Law Group PC

In a Notice dated 12 April 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirmed that the previous policy to automatically extend deadlines for applicants who face delays in submitting required documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer apply.[1] IRCC’s rationale is that this will assist in minimizing the backlog of applications in process[2] as processing times for many applications continue to lengthen. Despite the fact that IRCC will no longer automatically extend deadlines for providing required documents, applicants can still request deadline extensions if required documents for their applications are delayed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.[3]

Practically speaking, applicants with applications in process with IRCC who have been asked to provide further documentation can expect to receive a follow up request from IRCC in the coming weeks or months and will be given thirty-days to comply before an officer makes a decision on the application or considers it abandoned.[4] Should an applicant continue to be impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, they are asked to contact IRCC to request an extension before the expiry of the thirty-day deadline in the follow up request with a “reasonable explanation of how [the applicant] is affected by a COVID-19 disruption.”[5] The explanation and extension request is then to be determined at the discretion of an IRCC Officer, and if reasonable an additional thirty-day extension will be provided.[6] If the explanation is determined to be unreasonable, IRCC will make a decision on the application with the information on file.[7] Examples of “a reasonable explanation” provided by IRCC include:

  • The temporary closure of a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or Application Support Centre (ASC) which prevents an application from providing biometrics; or
  • A regional/city-wide pandemic lockdown which prevents an applicant from obtaining supporting documents (i.e., police certificate, undergoing medical examination).[8]

IRCC also advised that they will be monitoring local situations and will not contact clients if it is determined that a large number of clients is affected by a pandemic lockdown or service-related disruption, until the situation is resolved.[9]

Hopefully this is the first of many steps to be taken by IRCC in working through the backlog of applications in process, as frustrations are mounting with seemingly ever-increasing processing times.