Last week, the Government of Canada set in motion a series of measures to assist the temporary and permanent residents who were affected by the tragic train explosion that took place in Lac-Mégantic. In sympathy with the hundreds of victims of this tragic accident, the federal government announced on July 26th that it will automatically extend or restore the status of the temporary residents who live in the area as students, visitors, or workers. Similarly, CIC will replace any immigration-related legal documentation that was destroyed by the fire.
In a press release by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Chris Alexander restated the Ministry’s commitment to helping both Canadian citizens as well as newcomers affected by the accident.
“What occurred in Lac-Mégantic was a terrible tragedy and our Government is committed to assisting the community to recover,”” said Alexander. ““These special measures will alleviate the anxiety of individuals who are concerned about their immigration status, and enable Canadians and permanent residents to replace lost or damaged documents at no cost. The measures ensure that residents of Lac-Mégantic have one less thing to worry about, and complement other recent government offers of assistance.”
All temporary residents in Lac-Mégantic will thus have their status automatically extended or restored until October 5, 2013. After this date, however, if they need to further extend their status, they will need to submit a regular application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, for which the regular application fee will apply.
Similarly, while the Federal Government has voiced its commitment to providing temporary and permanent residents in the area with free replacements of any destroyed immigration papers –including Canadian permanent resident permits, work permits, study permits, and visitor records – government-issued documentation with a Lac-Mégantic residential address must be demonstrated as proof of residency. Moreover, all requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and all applications for free replacements of legal documentation must be submitted before October 5, 2013.
Likewise, Canadian passport holders will also benefit from this temporary free provision of legal documentation, as they will be able to apply for their free passport replacement either in person at a passport office, by mail, or at the Sherbrook, Asbestos, or Thetford Mines Service Canada Centres. In this case, applicants will also be required to provide government-issued documents as a Lac-Mégantic proof of residence. Any free passport replacement application will also have to be submitted before October 5, 2013 for it to take effect.
In addition to these extraordinary measures, the Government of Canada has also created two phone lines to assist affected temporary and permanent residents with any further inquiries. In order to receive assistance, they may call 1-888-242-2100. Similarly, for passport-related queries, Lac-Mégantic residents can call 1-888-567-6868.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For the latest updates on Canadian immigration and Canadian diversity, follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.