In response to the unprecedented wildfire season that is ravaging the nation, the Canadian Government is stepping up to offer crucial assistance to affected communities. This includes Canadians, permanent residents, temporary residents, international students, and foreign workers who are key contributors to the rebuilding efforts.
The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has announced special measures today for individuals affected by these wildfires, needing to replace essential documents, or extend or restore their status in Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will provide free replacement of documents such as permanent resident cards, Canadian citizenship certificates, Canadian passports, and other travel documents, which are lost, damaged, destroyed, or inaccessible due to the wildfires.
Furthermore, those directly impacted by the wildfires whose status is set to expire by September 30, 2023, will also be able to apply, restore, or extend their status in Canada free of charge. This includes international students, temporary foreign workers, and other visitors. Temporary workers unable to work due to fire-related workplace closures can rest easy, as they can extend their status until their workplace is operational again. Similarly, international students can prolong their study permits if their classes are delayed or cancelled, allowing them to complete their studies without penalty.
Effective from June 9, 2023, to September 30, 2023, individuals affected by the wildfires can apply for free to replace any lost, damaged, or destroyed citizenship, immigration, or travel documents, including passports, and to extend or restore their temporary resident status.
- If you have recently submitted an application to replace any such document or extend/restore your temporary resident status between May 6, 2023, and June 9, 2023, or after June 9, 2023, you may be eligible for a refund.
- If your citizenship certificate or card has been affected, you can apply for a replacement online or on paper, with fees refunded upon processing of the application. Please note that new citizenship cards are no longer issued; approved applications will receive an electronic citizenship certificate or a paper certificate.
- Valid passports and non-Canadian travel documents lost, damaged, or destroyed can also be replaced for free, as long as no changes are made to the name, date of birth, place of birth, or sex on the new passport. The expiration date will remain the same as the original document.
- Permanent residents can apply to replace a valid PR card issued in the last 5 years at no cost. Similarly, lost, damaged, or destroyed immigration documents can be replaced free of charge. However, Records of landing (IMM 1000) and confirmations of permanent residence (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688) cannot be reprinted, instead, a Verification of Status (VOS) document containing your complete immigration history will be provided.
- Those looking to extend or restore visitor, worker, or student status can do so for free, given their status was valid on May 6, 2023, and is due to expire before September 30, 2023. More time may be granted for restoring expired status under these temporary special measures.
- For workers looking to change employers, you can apply for a new work permit and request authorization to work while your application is being processed.
- Students whose Designated Learning Institute (DLI) is closed due to the wildfires are considered on authorized leave. You can pause your studies or progress towards a degree without penalty, and if eligible, continue to work off-campus or apply for a post-graduate work permit.
These measures will remain in effect until September 30, 2023, providing Canadians, permanent residents, and temporary residents ample time to resolve document or temporary status issues. The aim is to let these individuals focus on what’s truly important during these challenging times: their families, homes, and communities.
Minister Sean Fraser expresses the government’s dedication to the crisis: “We will continue to be there for those people across the country who are facing extreme wildfires. These new measures will make it easier for Canadians, permanent residents and temporary residents to replace lost documents. They will also help make sure temporary residents are not unduly penalized and are there to help rebuild our communities. To the first responders and firefighters across the country, thank you for your continued courage and hard work to protect our communities during this challenging time.”
For more information on who is eligible, how to apply, and what replacement documents are covered under the special measures, please visit the IRCC’s website. Notably, those who apply for an extension of their work permit will maintain their status while their application is being processed and remain eligible to work as per the conditions of their original work permit.