Posted on - Nov 19, 2013

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

In response to the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan on the central Philippines, last week Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced special priority processing for immigration applications of those affected by the typhoon.

“Canadians are deeply saddened by the devastating impact Typhoon Haiyan has had on the Philippine people,” said Minister Alexander. Our government will continue to take action to support those impacted by the storm and we will work with our partners to ensure that urgent support is provided to those who are significantly affected by this tragic event”

This priority processing will apply to both overseas applicants as well as Filippino citizens on temporary status in Canada.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines on November 7, 2013 killing approximately 4,000 and affecting as many as 11 million people, rendering many of them homeless. In response to the disaster Canada Immigration has implemented special measures effective immediately to give priority processing to those from the affected area. CIC has previously invoked similar special measures in the face of regional disaster such as the tsunami in South East Asia (December 2004) and the earthquakes in China (2008) and in Haiti (2010).

In order to access CIC’s priority processing, applicants overseas must demonstrate that they are significantly and personally affected by the typhoon. Individuals must contact the visa office directly and request for their case to be considered for priority processing. To do so individuals can email the Canadian Embassy in Manila at manila-im-enquiry@international.gc.ca. Only those applicants who are from the affected areas will be given priority processing. These special measures apply not only to existing applications already in the system but also to new applicants.

In addition, Filippino citizens already in Canada with temporary status and who wish to extend their stay, will be assessed in a compassionate and flexible manner. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has set up a special email address at situation-philippines@cic.gc.ca for applicants and their family members in Canada who wish to declare their cases a priority in order and also want to extend their stay in Canada. Furthermore the CIC Call Centre has a dedicated crisis line for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan and can call 1-888-242-2100. For applicants who have applied or are applying online and are significantly and personally affected by the typhoon, you can send a follow-up email to situation-philippines@cic.gc.ca indicating that you require urgent processing.

It is important that in making inquiries under these special measures that you provide as much information about your case as possible. Whether you are applying outside of Canada or inside, it is imperative that you provide the following information:

  • How you have been personally and significantly affected by Typhoon Haiyan
  • The region that you are in or from
  • Your full name and date of birth and personal contact information
  • The type of application: Student, Worker, Visitor or Permanent Resident

You will need to demonstrate how you are affected. If you are not from an area affected by the typhoon you will not be able to access priority processing. These measures are meant to assist those in need at this time. As CIC points out on their website:

“All efforts are being made to address urgent priority needs. Please refrain from contacting the dedicated crisis line for general immigration inquiries”.

In recent years Canada Immigration has taken proactive steps to assist individuals affected by natural disaster. The Philippine disaster relief initiatives in response to Typhoon Haiyan announced by Minister Alexander are a positive step to help people in dire circumstances by facilitating and fast tracking the immigration process and are not for general application to immigration processing in Manila.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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