Updated: Sat Jan. 16 2010 18:38:09
Jessica Earle, ctvedmonton.ca
Canada will expedite immigration applications for Haitians with family in this country and Haitians on a temporary visit to Canada will be allowed to extend their stay says Minister Jason Kenney, who looks after the Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism portfolio.
"Canada has welcomed a large community of Haitians to this country and is working to reunite families affected by this disaster as quickly as possible," he said in a news release on Saturday.
"Haitian nationals who are currently in Canada will also benefit from special measures."
According to the statement, priority will be given to new and existing sponsorship applications from Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons who have close family members in Haiti.
The change will take effect immediately, though Kenney cautions applicants must identify themselves as being directly and greatly affected by the tragedy in Haiti and must notify Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
New sponsorship applicants should write "Haiti" in clearly visible letters on the mailing envelope.
Those with applications in process, meanwhile, should notify the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm ET Monday through Friday) or by email at question-Haiti@cic.gc.ca if they or the family they have sponsored have been greatly affected by the earthquake.
Kenney says pending adoption cases with the visa office in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, will also be given priority consideration.
The government warns the Canadian Embassy in Haiti is providing very limited services right now because of damage sustained in the natural disaster. Officials say CIC is trying to open another office in the area in order to speed up visa and immigration applications.
Kenney says Haitian nationals who are temporary residents in Canada can extend their stay. Fees typically associated with applications of this nature will be waived and those struggling financially will be allowed to apply for a work permit.