These may seem like technicalities, but I see them as symbolic of a real “change of heart” in Canadian refugee policy. It makes me far more hopeful than I have been. (Copied from http://www.rstp.ca/en/refugee-sponsorship/latest-policy-program-update/procedures-for-syrian-iraqi/)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has temporarily modified administrative procedures for all sponsoring groups for SYRIAN AND IRAQI REFUGEE APPLICATIONS ONLY.
These procedures are in place at the Centralized Processing Office in Winnipeg (CPO-W) as well as Canadian visa offices overseas. They are also applicable to Add Dependent and One Year Window applications for Syrian and Iraqi nationals.
The following changes are in effect for Syrian and Iraqi refugee applications only:
- Versions of Forms: CPO-W will accept all versions of CIC-issued forms
- Photographs of refugee applicants: CPO-W will accept unsuitable, undated photographs, or applications without photographs. Visa Office may request new photographs.
- Signatures: Scanned signatures will be accepted for both sponsoring group and refugee applicant forms. Missing signatures will be collected by CPO-W for sponsors’ forms, or the Visa Office for refugee applicants’ forms.
- Missing or inadequate information: CPO-W will contact sponsors by telephone or email to perfect application. Legible scans and digital photographs will be acceptable means for providing missing information.
To note: applications will be held at CPO-W until required information is provided. Sponsors will be given 60 days to provide missing information, with a 30 day extension period.
For Syrian refugee applications only, the prima facie designation reduces the burden of proof required to demonstrate that a Syrian’s individual personal circumstances meet the definition of a convention refugee. While standard application forms and supporting documents continue to be required, information regarding the specific basis of claim may be less detailed and less comprehensive in the responses given the prima facie designation. However, background information on the individual’s personal history and family information remains helpful to visa offices overseas to efficiently process cases and should be provided where available. Visa officers overseas are focusing their interviews with refugee applicants on security, criminality and medical screening.
Please contact RSTP if you have any questions about these procedural changes for Syrian and Iraqi sponsorship applications.