2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Canada’s immigration system.
Immigrants themselves have been affected by many disruptions, ranging from difficulties accessing language tests, accreditation services, biometrics, or other government services. Immigration professionals have also worked tirelessly to adapt to any changes in policies and programs that affect Canadian immigration.
The good news is that we should see things continue to improve in the second half of 2020 and hopefully return to normal by 2021. For example, applicants for immigration can now book and take an English test and obtain their Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
Perhaps the main reason why we must all remain optimistic is that we continue to receive positive messages and signals from the federal government and the Minister of Immigration Canada – Marco Mendicino.
The federal government currently has many flexible policies to assist applicants for immigration. For example, they give applicants more time to submit their documents and do not refuse anyone if they are unable to submit a full application due to coronavirus interruptions.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has consistently stated throughout the pandemic that Canada remains as determined as ever to welcome immigrants to support its economy.
With that in mind, here are some of the main issues we should be looking for in the remaining six months of 2020.
Activity for the Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is the primary means for Express Entry applicants to obtain permanent residence. Since the start of the pandemic, however, Express Entry draws have focused only on applicants to the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The IRCC justifies its intention to issue invitations to apply (ITA) to applicants in Canada, as they are less likely to be disrupted by a coronavirus than applicants abroad.
It is important to remember, however, that some of the CEC and PNP applicants who now receive ITAs are also overseas. In addition, it is reasonable to expect that by the time successful applicants submit their applications for permanent residence and are processed by IRCC, we will be in 2021. At this point, we hope that Canada’s border rules will have been relaxed.
Therefore, a strong case can be made for IRCC, including the FSWP candidates in the Express Entry draws now. Even if you are not convinced by this argument, remember, once again, that some CEC and PNP candidates are currently abroad, so why the candidates for the FSWP and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) – some of which are currently in Canada – should they be excluded?
Will Travel Restrictions continue?
The biggest problem everyone has is when Canada will lift its travel restrictions with the United States and the rest of the world. Whether you are the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, Minister Mendicino, or another senior executive, the answer is: no one really knows.
The answer to this question ultimately depends on the success of Canada and other countries containing coronavirus. It may be safe to say that the sooner the pandemic is brought under control, the sooner Canada can start exempting more people and ultimately lift the restrictions completely.
Another major question mark is whether Canada will welcome international students in time for the fall semester 2020. IRCC has stated that it will process study permits to the best of its ability, but under current travel rules, international students who did not have a valid study permit before March 18 cannot come to Canada.
Therefore, it seems likely that later this summer, Canada will exempt new study permit holders who wish to start studying in Canada by September.
Future for Family Class Immigration amid COVID-19
A common question right now is whether IRCC will renew the open work permit pilot project before its expiration on July 31.
The pilot gives an open work permit to the spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are waiting for their spousal sponsorship application to be processed. Given the benefits of this pilot project for Canadian families and the economy, we should expect it to be renewed.
Another major question mark concerns the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP). It was delayed due to the fact that IRCC looked at how to improve it, and then the appearance of COVID-19. IRCC has committed to announcing details of the program launch later in 2020.
One barrier, which Minister Mendicino noted, is that parents and grandparents are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Therefore, IRCC is trying to determine how it can accommodate such people in Canada in a way that protects their health.
Immigration Plans for 2021 – 2023
Aside from the upcoming travel restriction announcements and when IRCC will again invite applicants to the PTFE, the third-biggest story in the next six months will be the announcement of the 2021-2023 immigration levels plan. of Minister Mendicino.
It will be the most anticipated announcement since the government tabled its immigration plan in 2017 – at the time, stakeholders wanted to know whether Canada would commit to much higher immigration levels and whether it would reintroduce a multi-year plan (before 2017, the plans were announced one year at a time).
By November 1, Mendicino will tell us how COVID-19 will affect Canada’s immigration goals in the short and medium-term. We all know that immigration is essential to Canada’s economy and society, but at the same time, COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty.
In the end, COVID-19 did not affect Canada’s immigration needs, so there is a good chance that immigration levels will remain high for the upcoming years.