CANADA – Permanent Residence Freeze; Closure of Visa Section at Buffalo Consulate (U.S.); Temporary Resident Visa Applications Channelled Via Ottowa
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced a freeze on permanent residence applications under the Federal Skilled Worker and Immigrant Investor Programs, effective 1 July 2012. Additionally, CIC has implemented several changes to the way work permit, study permit and Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) applications are handled in North America.
Permanent Residence Freeze
Applications for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker and Immigrant Investor Programs will no longer be accepted, effective 1 July 2012. According to CIC, Canadian immigration levels are currently at their highest, and this latest phase is an attempt to limit a further backlog, causing extensive processing delays, in both of these categories. However, it should be noted that:
- Freezing of the Federal Skilled Worker Program does not apply to applicants with arranged employment, nor to those applying under PhD eligibility;
- The Federal Skilled Worker Program is expected to be re-opened in January 2013, after the implementation of new legislation;
- The Immigrant Investor Program will be on hold indefinitely, until Citizenship and Immigration can clear the backlog of current applications;
Closure of Visa Section at Buffalo Consulate (U.S.)
The visa section of the Canadian consulate in Buffalo in the U.S. has been closed. New applications for Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) must be submitted to New York, Los Angeles, Detroit or Seattle. Work permit and study permit applications must be submitted to either New York or Los Angeles, depending on the applicant’s location.
Pending applications submitted to Buffalo will continue to be processed at that office, apart from pending Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) applications, which will be transferred to the visa office in Washington D.C. for processing, and pending permanent residence applications, which will be transferred to the Case Processing Pilot Office – Ottawa (CPP-O) for processing.
Temporary Resident Visa Applications Channelled Via Ottowa
CIC has also changed the application procedures for those residing in Canada and requiring a new TRV. Previously, it was possible for foreign nationals to submit new TRV applications to Canadian visa offices in the U.S. This will no longer be possible for non-U.S. nationals, unless holding a valid U.S. visa. Otherwise, foreign nationals requiring a TRV must now apply either at the Case Processing Pilot Office – Ottawa (CPP-O) or “at the visa office serving their country of nationality.”
It is important to note that CIC considers the CPP-O to be an extension of the overseas processing network. As such, where a foreign national applies to CPP-O and requires an interview, the application will be forwarded to one of the Canadian Consulates in the U.S. (excluding Washington, D.C.).
Processing at the CPP-O
- Processing times at the CPP-O may be as high as two months.
- There will not be any opportunities to deviate from the required application document checklist or to expedite applications where urgent travel is required.
- Visa offices in the United States typically allowed applicants making a TRV application to retain their passport where urgent and frequent travel was required. Applicants would then submit their passport at the end of the application process, thus minimizing the amount of time applicants were not in possession of their passports. However, such a procedure is not permissible at the CPP Office in Ottawa.
- Note the freeze on permanent residency applications under the Federal Skilled Worker and Immigrant Investor Programs
- Prepare for extended processing time at consulates in the U.S. - the closure of the Buffalo visa section will likely increase case volume and processing times at other Canadian consulates in the U.S.
- Similarly, CIC’s decision to channel all Work Permit and Study Permit applications to either the Canadian Consulate in New York or Los Angeles will likely result in greater processing times for those in the U.S. requiring new Work or Study Permits.