COVID-19 FAQ – ICCRC-CRCIC STAGE

COVID-19 FAQ

ICCRC-CRCIC

 

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

Last updated: July 6, 2021

 


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 office locations are closed 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

· Practice Management Advice

· Available resources for RCICs/RISIAs

· Document Submissions for RCICs/RISIAs

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

· Successful exam-takers applying to become RCICs


 

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 an 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
  • Professional Standards, Research, Education and Policy (PREP) – 3 to 5 business days
  • Finance – 3 to 5 business days
  • Public Affairs & 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 government updates and are assessing the organization’s critical business functions should this crisis 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.

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 offered once more.

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
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Current border measures and requirementsCoronavirus disease (COVID-19): Current border measures and requirements
COVID-19 – Public Messaging Regarding Workers (June 5, 2020)COVID-19 – Public Messaging Regarding Workers (June 5, 2020)

IRB
Find out how COVID-19 is impacting those who appear before the BoardFind out how COVID-19 is impacting those who appear before the Board
Notice – IRB moving to remote-only hearings as of January 18, 2021Notice – IRB moving to remote-only hearings as of January 18, 2021
Notice – Special Temporary Measures due to COVID-19Notice – Special Temporary Measures due to COVID-19
Practice Notice – Special measures due to COVID-19Practice Notice – Special measures due to COVID-19

IRCC
How COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport servicesHow the COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services
IRCC introduces epost ConnectIRCC introduces epost Connect

7.
How has ICCRC helped RCICs and RISIAs impacted by COVID-19?

  • A 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 2020-2021 financial year were decreased from $1,809 to $1,583 (quarterly payments  were decreased from $452 to $396).
    ·  RISIA annual registration fees for the 2020-2021 financial year were decreased from $913 to $799.

  • Due date for 2020-2021 membership dues and registration fees was 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 were still required to pay the deferred dues in four equal payments starting on August 1, 2020. Quarterly payments for these RCICs were $509 ($396 + $113 deferred fee repayment) throughout financial year 2020-2021. RCICs were also given 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.


8.
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.

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.

 

9.
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.

 

10.
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, if possible. 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.

 

11.
What professional obligations apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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

You should also ensure that you comply with all government and health requirements.

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

 

12.
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:

 

13.
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 while 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.

 

14.
What should I do when working from home?

  • Continue to keep client information confidential.
  • Establish rapport and communication strategies 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 website(s), via email blasts or other communications/social media means as applicable.
  • Use your extra time for professional development by signing up for courses.
  • Keep abreast of the latest COVID-19 government instructions/restrictions.
  • Maintain online contact and reach out to your colleagues.

 

15.
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 or online communications 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,
  • and their specific situations.

 

16.
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.

 

17.
What is the current status regarding Canada Border Services AgencyCanada Border Services Agency (CBSA) removals? 

As of November 30, 2020, CBSA resumed enforcing removals. For real-time updates visit CBSACBSA.

 

 

18.
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.

 

Available resources for RCICs/RISIAs


19.
How is the federal government helping Canadians whose livelihoods are impacted?

The Government of Canada is taking action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. For a full list of economic supports available to you and your business, click hereclick here.

 

20.
How does the federal economic response apply to RCICs?

As sole practitioners, many RCICs can access economic support through the Canada Recovery Benefit. For up-to-date information on eligibility, please visit Canada.caCanada.ca.

 


21.
Where can I find practice management advice?

You can visit the Practice Management Advice FAQ section. If you do not 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.

 

Document Submissions for RCICs/RISIAs

22.
Do statutory declarations need to be certified?

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

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

 

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

 

23.
Do my ID and other documents need to be certified when submitted with my EPE application?

Due to the present COVID-19 situation, the EPE application does not require any documentation to be certified. Qualifying identification and other documentation are to be scanned by the applicant and uploaded with their digital application.

 

24.
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 you have recently received permanent residency and have not yet received your PR card but have landed, we will accept confirmation of landing (“landing papers”) in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID.

For those writing via ProctorU®, you must, on the day of your exam, have a valid physical government-issued photo ID or ProctorU® will not grant you access to write the exam as per their requirements. They will accept non-Canadian IDs; please inform us if you need to use a foreign passport or driver’s licence to write your exam so that we may inform them.

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

 

25.
Can I have an extension to submit documents?

Since our application does not require certification and can be submitted electronically, and since we currently allow documents to be witnessed in place of being certified, we are not granting extensions for any documents. Your language test results and education verification must be released directly to ICCRC by the institution. Please be sure that you have granted permission to release the information to the institution in advance.

 

26.
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 only applies 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.

 

27.
Do I still need a certified ID on the day of the exam?

No, but you will have to present your physical, original ID to your online proctor on the day of the exam. ProctorU® will not accept a photocopy.

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.

 

28.
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.

 

29.
What changes have been made to the EPE?

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

EPEs are now invigilated online by ProctorU®, a leading company in secure, live, online proctoring. Each exam taker sits the exam from the safety of their home and is 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.

 


30.
Can I write the 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.

 

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.

We continue to hope that the language test providers that are currently accepted will be able to find ways to increase their safe testing capacity 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.

 

Successful exam-takers applying to become RCICs

 

32. Do statutory declarations need to be certified?

Due to the present COVID-19 situation, we understand that successful exam-takers are unable to meet with a commissioner, notary public or lawyer to get documents certified.
The Council will temporarily allow for statutory declarations that usually require to be certified by a professional to be witnessed by a friend, relative or other, as long as it does not require you to break the social distancing requirement put in place by the provincial and federal governments. If you are unable to get a witness, please contact registration@iccrc-crcic.cainscription@iccrc-crcic.ca.

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 , which includes submitting their business name selection for approval under the Business and Business Name Registration Regulation.

Once submitted, they have an additional 6 months (182 days) to submit any missing documents, including their proof of business registration using a previously approved name.

If your membership application is approaching the six-month mark and you are still unable to complete the application, please email registration@iccrc-crcic.cainscription@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation so that we may determine the 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.cainscription@iccrc-crcic.ca to request a Client Account Exemption 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.cainscription@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation, including the companies from which you requested services, 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.cainscription@iccrc-crcic.ca with a full explanation of your situation along with any documentation verifying 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 directly from an outside printing company. At this time, the printing company remains operational, and we expect that most certificates will be received 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 when it will be 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.