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2005-16

UPDATE – CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION CANADA’S RESPONSE TO THE TSUNAMI DISASTER OF DECEMBER 26, 2004, HELPS BRING MORE THAN 350 PEOPLE TO CANADA

OTTAWA, June 7, 2005 — To date, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has issued 366 permanent resident visas and granted permanent residence to 278 people in an effort to help reunite close family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were seriously and personally affected by the tsunami disaster on December 26, 2004.

As part of Canada’s humanitarian response to the disaster, CIC put in place temporary measures to assist the people who had been affected. These measures included expediting the processing of applications for those with close family members in Canada and waiving the processing fees for applicants personally and seriously affected by the disaster. CIC offices in Canada and at the affected missions abroad began reviewing, on a priority basis, existing applications from people in the tsunami-affected areas as soon as the measures were announced.

The large majority of the visas were issued to priority family class members: spouses, partners and dependent children. Close to 80 percent of priority family class applications already in process when the disaster struck were finalized in the four months following the disaster. At the same time, CIC is on track to process, within six months, applications already in process when the disaster struck, from parents and grandparents affected by the disaster.

In the weeks following the disaster, CIC conducted cross-Canada consultations with community members and stakeholders, including members of ethnocultural communities, the national and ethnic media, provincial officials and immigrant-serving organizations. CIC also set up special dedicated communication lines for members of Parliament, senators and the public. As of May 31, CIC had responded to 2,610 enquiries from the public through the special tsunami e-mail account, and 8,303 from the public on the tsunami hotline.

CIC provided a substantial time frame for those affected by the tsunami to apply under the fee waiver program, and applications from the people originally targeted by CIC’s tsunami measures have now declined significantly. Therefore, starting July 1, 2005, CIC will no longer accept new applications from people from tsunami-affected areas without the appropriate application processing fees. The Right of Permanent Residence Fee will continue to be waived for applications received prior to July 1, 2005, even if the decision on the application is made after this date.

Applications received on or after July 1, 2005, must be accompanied by the appropriate application fee as indicated in the application kit. Please note that all applications received on or after July 1, 2005, without the appropriate fee will be returned to the applicant. CIC will continue to waive the fees for applications received prior to July 1.

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For more information (media only):

Stephen Heckbert
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064

Maria Iadinardi
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 952-0740