COVID-19 FAQ | Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council

COVID-19 FAQ

ICCRC-CRCIC

 

FAQs on how the pandemic may affect our services and your profession

Last updated: July 3, 2020

 


This is a time of great anxiety for each of us as the Canadian and provincial governments respond with unprecedented steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (read Government of Canada – COVID-19 UpdatesGovernment of Canada – COVID-19 Updates and Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response PlanCanada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan).

ICCRC supports guidance from public health organizations and governments as we strive to do the right things for you, your family and our communities.

For that reason, our four office locations (Burlington, Toronto, Montreal and Burnaby) are closed since March 16 and our employees are working remotely until further notice.

As the regulator of immigration professionals, we are supporting our members and other stakeholders by providing information related to COVID-19. For additional information on the immigration consulting profession, you might want to visit the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration ConsultantsCanadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) and www.capic.ca/EN/COVID19Updateswww.capic.ca/EN/COVID19Updates.

The situation is constantly evolving. Please keep visiting this page for updates.


 

Table of Contents

· Impact of COVID-19 on ICCRC’s operations

· Impact of COVID-19 on the immigration services industry

· Available resources for RCICs

· Questions from students of the Immigration Practitioner Program (IPP)

· Questions regarding the Entry-to-Practice Exam (EPE)

· Successful exam-takers applying to become RCICs

· Practice Management Advice


 

Impact of COVID-19 on ICCRC’s operations

1. How do office closures impact regular mail and packages?

Receipt of all physical mail and courier packages is suspended until further notice. Please submit documents electronically.

 

2. Is ICCRC maintaining full regulatory operations?

Yes, this has been made possible by leveraging technology and implementing remote collaboration.

As usual, we can be reached by phone at: 289-348-0422 or toll free: 1-877-836-7543 or by email info@iccrc-crcic.ca.

Our response time may be slower than normal, but we endeavour to serve to the best of our abilities.

 

3. What is the expected response time for my inquiry if I call or send and email?

We endeavour to respond within 2-3 business days for general enquiries.
Response times for Department specific enquiries are as follows:

  • Registration – 5 business days
  • Complaints & Professional Conduct – 2 to 3 business days
  • Education – 3 to 5 business days
  • Finance – 3 to 5 business days
  • Communications – 2 to 3 business days
  • Practice Management Advisory Service – 3 to 5 business days

 

4. What guides ICCRC’s response to COVID-19?

We rely on our Business Continuity Plan and Emergency Preparedness Plan to make rapid decisions. We appreciate your patience as we adapt our policies and processes to address this unprecedented public health crisis. We follow public health authorities and governments updates and are assessing the organization’s critical business functions should this continue over a longer term.

 

5. Most authorities recommend social distancing and ask people to avoid gatherings. How is this affecting in-person courses?

ICCRC has suspended delivery of all in-person classes at each of our three ICCRC learning centres, until further notice. Classes that were scheduled to be provided in-person will instead be provided remotely.

Those RCICs who had registered for an in-person class in the upcoming weeks had their registration automatically switched to the remote class.

If you are unable to attend the course online, please cancel your course by emailing pme-fpp@iccrc-crcic.ca and re-register to take the course at a later date, when in-person courses will be again offered.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. We will inform you when in-person courses resume.

 

Impact of COVID-19 on the immigration services industry

6. How is COVID-19 impacting the immigration services industry?

For more information, please visit the following official websites:

CBSA
COVID-19 – Public Messaging Regarding Workers (June 5, 2020)COVID-19 – Public Messaging Regarding Workers (June 5, 2020)

IRB
Practice notice – Special measures due to COVID-19Practice notice – Special measures due to COVID-19
Notice – Special Temporary Measures due to COVID-19Notice – Special Temporary Measures due to COVID-19
Notice – All in-person hearing and mediations except detention reviews postponedNotice – All in-person hearing and mediations except detention reviews postponed
Practice Notice on the Resumption of Time LimitsPractice Notice on the Resumption of Time Limits

IRCC
How COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport servicesHow COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services
Ministerial Instructions 37 (MI37)Ministerial Instructions 37 (MI37)
Processing changes for visas due to COVID-19Processing changes for visas due to COVID-19
How COVID-19 is affecting applications for a visitor visa or eTA (FAQs)How COVID-19 is affecting applications for a visitor visa or eTA (FAQs)
COVID-19 – Temporary Emergency Measures for Refugee ClaimsCOVID-19 – Temporary Emergency Measures for Refugee Claims

 

7. Is the immigration industry impacted by COVID-19 fraud?

Officials have noticed a rise in scams and in attempts to gain access to personal bank accounts and personal information.

If you come across immigration fraud, please visit How to report immigration fraudHow to report immigration fraud and the Border Watch LineBorder Watch Line of the Canada Border Services Agency.

 

Available resources for RCICs/RISIAs

8. How is ICCRC helping RCICs and RISIAs impacted by COVID-19?

  •  One-time 12.5% RCIC membership dues and RISIA registration fees reduction for the financial year ending June 30, 2021 only.

– RCIC annual membership dues for the coming financial year will decrease from $1,809 to $1,583
(quarterly payments will decrease from $452 to $396).
– RISIA annual registration fees for the coming financial year will decrease from $913 to $799.

 

  •  Due date for 2020-2021 membership dues and registration fees will be postponed from July 1, 2020 to August 1, 2020.

 

  •  On March 3, 2020, the Council announced that it would defer the April 1 quarterly payment of 2019-2020 membership dues for those RCICs who had opted to pay quarterly. RCICs that opted to defer payment of the April 1 quarterly payment of 2019-2020 membership dues will still be required to pay the deferred dues in four equal payments starting on August 1, 2020. Quarterly payments for these members will be $509 ($396 + $113 deferred fee repayment) throughout financial year 2020-2021. Members will also have the option to pay the deferred payment at once ($113 x 4 = $452) either by including it in the 2020-2021 full year dues or in the first quarterly payment for 2020-2021.

 

9. How is the federal government helping Canadians whose livelihoods are impacted?

The federal government announced a massive $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic. The package will include $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals, as well as a temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, a new Emergency Care Benefit for those who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave for employment insurance, and a new Emergency Support Benefit for workers who are not eligible for EI and are facing unemployment. More information is available on the link provided here: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response PlanCanada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

 

10. How does the Federal economic response apply to RCICs?

As sole practitioners, many RCICs can access economic support through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

Application details will be available through My CRAMy CRA and My Service CanadaMy Service Canada beginning the first week of April.

 

11. Where can I find practice management advice?

You can visit the Practice Management Advice FAQ section. If you don’t find an answer to a specific question, you can contact the Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) at pme-fpp@iccrc-crcic.ca. Allow 3-5 business days for a response.

 

12. What is the Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS)?

After receiving numerous questions from RCICs and RISIAs on how to adapt their practice to the pandemic situation, ICCRC has created the PMAS to support RCICs and respond to questions about their professional obligations. The PMAS will also be available to RCICs after the pandemic. Please send your questions to pme-fpp@iccrc-crcic.ca. Allow 3-5 business days for a response.

 

Questions from students of the Immigration Practitioner Program (IPP)

13. Due to the interruption of classes at my IPP, what will happen if I’m not able to finish my program before the July 31st transition to the new Immigration and Citizenship Graduate Diploma Program (ICGDP)?

July 31, 2020 is the deadline to register for an IPP. The currently approved IPPs will have until December 31, 2022 to graduate all registered students, and IPP graduates will continue to be permitted to sit the RCIC EPE up to three years after graduating from the IPP.

The Council anticipates that all currently registered students should be able to complete their courses before the IPP will be phased out.

 

Questions regarding the Entry-to-Practice Exam (EPE)

Document submissions

Due to the present COVID-19 situation, we understand that candidates are unable to meet with a commissioner, notary public or lawyer to get documents certified.

14. How can I complete my statutory declarations?

The Council will temporarily allow for documents and statutory declarations that usually require to be certified, to be witnessed by a friend, relative or other, as long as that does not require you to break the social distancing requirement in place by the provincial and federal government. If you are unable to get a witness, please contact registration@iccrc-crcic.ca.

 

15. Does my ID need to be certified when submitted with my EPE application?

The Council will temporarily waive the requirement for colour copies of the applicant’s Canadian status-proving identification to be certified. Qualifying identification can be scanned by the applicant and submitted with their application.

 

16. My Canadian status-proving ID has expired, and I am unable to get a new one at this time due to government office closures. Can I submit a colour copy of my expired ID as a part of my application?

If the government agency that issues the ID in question has a publicly stated policy to extend the validity of the ID due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you may submit the expired ID with your application to write the EPE.  Please include a link to the referenced policy with your application.

Please note that you will be asked to update your file with your new ID once you have received it. If the COVID-19 restrictions have eased at such time, the colour copy will need to be certified, as this is our normal requirement.

If you have further questions regarding an expired ID, please email a full explanation to registration@iccrc-crcic.ca.

 

17. Can I have an extension to submit documents?

As we currently allow documents to be witnessed in place of being certified, we are not granting extensions for any documents. However, if you have any difficulty acquiring a necessary document, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca.

 

18. I have been told to submit documents digitally. Will a physical copy be required in the future?

Most documents only need to be submitted digitally.

In the rare situation where, physical copies must be received, you will be explicitly informed by email.

At this time, this would only apply to RCICs and RISIAs who must send back their certificate and ID card for the purposes of a name change or resignation, as well as RISIAs whose employment has changed and require a replacement certificate.

 

19. Do I still need a certified ID on the day of the exam?

No, but you will have to present your ID to your online proctor on the day of the exam.

When in-person invigilation at exam centres resumes, you will once again be required to provide a certified colour copy of your original ID that you will need to present at the day of the exam.

 

20. Once I submit documents digitally, should I destroy the originals?

You are required to retain the originals in case the documents need to be verified at a later date.

 

May & August Entry-to-Practice Exams (EPEs)

21. What changes have been made to the EPE?

Moving forward, both the RCIC and RISIA EPEs will be computer-based exams. This will be a permanent change that will remain even when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The postponed May EPE and upcoming August EPE will be invigilated online by ProctorU®, a leading company in secure, live, online proctoring. Each exam taker will sit the exam from the safety of their home and be invigilated by one invigilator eliminating the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

EPEs will once again be invigilated in-person in exam centres when safety concerns for our exam takers no longer exist.

 

22. When is the date of the postponed May EPE?

We now anticipate that the exam could take place during the first or second week of July. Many organizations and schools are currently making the same transition to online proctoring; therefore, availability for an exam as large as a sitting of our EPE still needs to be determined.

An announcement will be made available on our website when the date has been confirmed.

 

23. What is the updated deadline to apply for the postponed May EPE?

The updated deadline to apply for the RCIC and RISIA EPEs is May 15, 2020.

 

24. What will I need to take the postponed May EPE and upcoming August EPE?

Detailed computer specifications needed to run the exam will be provided at a later date. This will include links that will allow you to verify that the appropriate software will run on your computer. At this time, please note that you will need the following:

  • Windows or Mac computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Either the Chrome browser or Firefox browser installed
  • A webcam (may be internal)
  • A microphone (may be internal)
  • A reliable internet connection
  • A quiet, private room with an adequate workstation.

If you are unable to meet the computer specifications needed to run the exam, please send an email to registration@iccrc-crcic.ca to request a deferral form.

 

25. What is the updated deadline to pay the exam fees for the postponed May EPE or defer without penalty?

The updated deadline to pay the exam fees for the postponed May EPE (or to defer without penalty) is May 22, 2020. The deferral date will be reassessed once the new date for the postponed exam is locked.

 

26. What is the deadline to apply for the August EPE?

The deadline to apply for the August exam remains July 10, 2020.

 

27. What is the deadline to pay for the August EPE or defer without penalty?

The deadline to pay for the August exam (or defer without penalty) remains July 17, 2020.

 

28. I have already paid for the May EPE, and it has been postponed. Can I get a refund?

Any exam fees already paid will be applied to the next exam date; there will be no refunds at this time.

 

29. I was approved to take the May EPE. Do I need to submit anything to take the exam on the day it is postponed to?

All approved exam takers for the May 2020 EPE are being automatically moved to the rescheduled date (when it is rescheduled). You do not need to submit any other documents.

Should the new date for the May EPE not work for you, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca regarding a deferral to a later exam date.

 

30. Can I write the postponed May EPE by remote invigilation?

ICCRC no longer offers its previous form of remote invigilation in order to protect the security and integrity of our high-stakes national licensing exams.

The postponed May EPE and upcoming August EPE will utilize online proctoring to provide a safe environment for all exam takers.

 

31. My scheduled language ability test was cancelled when the testing centre was shut down due to COVID-19. May I have an exemption or extension for the language ability test or may I submit a different language ability test that is not on your approved list?

ICCRC does not waive the language requirements nor will extensions be granted beyond the application deadline.

It has been noted that language testing centres did not begin to close until approximately 2 weeks before the original exam application deadline. As the language test results can take up to 2 weeks to be processed, ICCRC does not advise applicants to wait until the deadline approaches to take their language tests.

As a part of our COVID-19 response, we pushed the deadline to apply for the next EPE to May 15, 2020. This decision was made to accommodate any exam applicants who were scheduled to graduate from their IPP in time to write the originally scheduled May exam, as many IPPs were forced to transition to online learning.

We continue to hope that the language test providers that are currently accepted will be able to find ways to administer their tests safely in the near future.  At this time, we do not anticipate accepting additional language tests for our EPE applications, and we ask that applicants take the CAEL, CanTest, CELPIP General, IELTS Academic, TEF, or SEL when testing is able to safely resume.


32. My academic transcript and/or language ability test were approved for the May EPE exam. However, now that the exam will take place at a later date those documents are not valid anymore or are valid but I will need to defer to a later EPE exam because my computer does not meet the specifications or because I am unavailable on the new exam date. Will the validity of those documents be extended?

Yes, in those cases the validity period of documents will be extended until the August exam date. Please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca regarding a deferral to a later exam date.

 

Successful exam-takers applying to become RCICs

Please note that questions 14, 17, 18 and 20 in the previous section also apply to successful exam takers.

 

33.  I am unable to open my business. May I have an extension to provide a proof of business registration?

A successful exam writer has 120 days from the date that they received their exam results to submit their membership application.

Once submitted, they have an additional 6 months (182 days) to submit any missing documents, such as proof of business registration.

If your membership application is approaching the six-month mark and you are still unable to complete the application, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation so that we may determine your best path forward.

 

34. I am unable to open my client account. May I have an extension to complete the client account requirement?

To our knowledge, major banking institutions are allowing accounts to be created online or over the phone.

If you have exhausted these possibilities and are unable to open an account to be used as your client account, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca to request a Client Account Exemption to be used to meet this requirement until such time that you are able to open the client account.

 

35. I am unable to get my fingerprints done. May I have an extension to request my police certificate from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)?

The RCMP has informed the Council that they continue to process police certificate requests. However, they are not offering fingerprinting services at their detachments and applicants must use an approved third-party fingerprinting service to submit their fingerprints for a police certificate. We recommend contacting your nearest approved fingerprinting service to see if they remain open and if they can safely conduct fingerprinting.

As we cannot guarantee that they will remain open, if you are unable to locate an approved fingerprinting service, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation, including the companies that you requested services from, along with any supporting documentation of your requests.  Please note that questions involving police certificates will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about the RCMP’s COVID-19 response, police certificates, or to request an up-to-date list of approved third-party fingerprinting services, please visit the RCMP’s websitewebsite.

 

36. I am unable to get a foreign police certificate from my other countries of residence. May I have an extension to submit a foreign police certificate?

Questions involving police certificates will be handled on a case-by-case basis, as the method of requesting police certificates varies from one country to another.

Please email registration@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation along with any documentation that you have to verify that you have attempted to request the police certificate, but are unable to obtain one at this time.

 

37. When can I expect to receive my licensing certificate?

Our certificates are printed and shipped regularly from an outside printing company and shipped directly to members. At this time, the printing company remains operational, and we expect most members will receive their certificate within the regular 6-8 weeks.

As Canada Post and couriers are experiencing a heavy volume of deliveries due to the increase in online shopping caused by COVID-19, there may be additional shipping delays. We ask for your patience in that regard.

 

38. When can I expect to receive my member ID card?

Our identification cards are printed in-house by ICCRC staff. While staff are working remotely at this time, the office is not closed to all staff members.

ID cards will be printed periodically so long as it is safe for a limited number of staff members to be present in our office.

As Canada Post and couriers are experiencing a heavy volume of deliveries due to the increase in online shopping caused by COVID-19, there may be additional shipping delays. We ask for your patience in that regard.

 

Practice Management Advice

ICCRC has prepared the following guidance for RCICs and RISIAs to support them in their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. RCICs provide essential professional services to their clients and due to the pandemic’s impact on global mobility, it is critical to ensure continuity of services while maintaining appropriate social distancing and other public health measures. This balance can be achieved by adopting new ways of working.

 

39. What is the Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS)?

After receiving numerous questions from RCICs and RISIAs on how to adapt their practice to the pandemic situation, ICCRC has created the PMAS to support RCICs and respond to questions about their professional obligations. The PMAS will also be available to RCICs after the pandemic. Please send your questions to pme-fpp@iccrc-crcic.ca. Allow 3-5 business days for a response.

 

40. Can I continue to work?

RCICs should continue to provide services to their clients if they are able to reduce exposure of the virus to themselves, their staff, and their clients. Services should be provided online or by phone. In-person immigration services can be delivered when there are no other means of doing so and if RCICs fall under the essential service categories relating to the provision of professional services. Please check if your province has required all but essential services to close and if RCICs are likely to fall under that category.

 

41. What professional obligations apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While the pandemic certainly poses challenges to RCICs, the obligation for RCICs to practice ethically and follow ICCRC’s By-Laws, Codes, and Regulations remains.

For professional obligations related questions, RCICs can contact our Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) at pme-fpp@iccrc-crcic.ca. Allow 3-5 business days for a response.

 

42. How can I better manage my practice?

Now is a good time for RCICs to review their business continuity plan and decide what should be implemented. Ensure these plans consider staff in all your offices and clients here and abroad and at various stages of their immigration process. Monitor for daily updates and shifting deadlines as they become available on the Government websites.

Ensure that you have provided a copy of your contingency plan for your company to your designated authorized representative or responsible person and that you have submitted your Designation Form (see Planned or Unplanned Absence course) to the Council.  If you have not yet taken your Planned and Unplanned Absence PME course, we recommend signing up for it when you have availability.

Available resources:
1. Planned or Unplanned Absence (PUA) Toolkit (Member section)
2. Pandemic specific business continuity plans:

 

43. What should I do with my physical office?

  • Consider closing or limiting in-person access to your office.
  • Limit your own office visits to picking up required materials for active client files.
  • Contact your clients in the event you may have any of their personal property in your possession and establish a protocol for safely returning any documents they require by minimizing exposure and transmission.
  • Prepare for longer lockdowns and ensure that you have all your key information and files readily accessible. This includes client contact information, client files, staff and service provider contact information, bank account information, and passwords for personal and staff voicemail, computers and emails.

 

44. What should I do when working from home?

  • Continue to keep client information confidential.
  • Establish rapport and communication strategy with staff who are also working from home.
  • Communicate with clients on a regular basis and respond promptly to their questions.
  • Post regular updates on your websites, via e-mail blasts or other communications/social media means as applicable.
  • Use your extra time for professional development; sign-up for courses.
  • Keep abreast of latest COVID-19 government instructions/restrictions.
  • Maintain online contact and reach out to your colleagues.

 

45. What should I communicate to my clients during this period?

You should maintain communications with your clients. If you need to change your agreed upon method of communication, please notify your clients as soon as possible. Also find out which type of social media/online communications means your clients are most comfortable with.

In addition, you should provide clients with an update on:

  • how to reach you,
  • the hours of work,
  • main changes to immigration processes,
  • their specific situations.

 

46. How can I communicate effectively with clients while using social distancing to reduce health risks in my practice?

Select appropriate alternative means of communication, such as:

  • Tele- and Videoconferencing via Skype, Zoom, Teams, Facetime or other platforms.
  • Use mobile chat-applications: WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, etc.
  • Use Screen-sharing options to review forms and files with your clients.

 

47. What is the current status regarding CBSA removals?

CBSA is currently not enforcing removals, except for cases with serious criminality.

 

48. Can electronic signatures be used to execute documents?

This is a substantive legal issue and it is context specific. ICCRC does not regulate how documents are executed. RCICs should review applicable legislation to determine if electronic signatures are permitted in the context of their matters.