August 7, 2020
Ms. Catrina Tapley
Deputy Minister, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
OPEN LETTER RE: APPLYING BIOMETRICS EXEMPTIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Dear Deputy Minister Catrina Tapley,
Following the emergency Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) meeting, I am writing to follow up with the issue of delays for individuals to complete their biometrics due to COVID-19. I raised this question directly to your attention during the June 17, 2020 emergency meeting of the CIMM Committee and have also raised this in writing to the Minister.
My office has received a significant amount of email from Vancouver East constituents and from people across the country whose immigration applications have been impeded because they have been unable to complete their biometrics. Given the ongoing impact of COVID-
19, there simply is no timeline or certainty as to when an individual would be able to have their biometrics completed. While I am appreciative of the fact that IRCC has extended the deadline to give biometrics and that IRCC will not close or refuse any application in progress, however, it remains that those unable to obtain their biometrics are in effect simply stuck in the system. This in turn means that their lives are effectively held in limbo.
Fortunately, IRCC has the tools at hand to address this deep concern. This is outlined under section R12.8 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, that IRCC officials can invoke the “impossible or not feasible” exemption. It would appear to me that this provision is particularly relevant during a pandemic where the completion of biometrics is next to impossible.
In recognition of the fact that during the pandemic the collection of this information has become impossible or not feasible at this time because offices remain closed and ports of entry are inaccessible, I urge you to exercise your authority by applying biometrics exemptions more broadly. This would greatly reduce the stress and anxiety for those whose application is in effect stuck in the system with no end in sight.
I sincerely appreciate the chance to bring this to your attention, as these are matters of growing urgency to many people in Canada who want nothing more than to be able to move forward with their immigration-related application. I look forward to your prompt response.
MP for Vancouver East
NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship