After President Donald Trump signed a new executive order yesterday, an estimated 525,000 people will be unable to settle in the United States as permanent or temporary residents for the remainder of 2020.
Trump’s new immigration ban is said to be a temporary measure to protect American workers during the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, this temporary measure will create significant uncertainty for employers in the United States as well as for those planning to work in America.
Canada’s immigration system is also going through a period of uncertainty in the sense that the country currently has travel restrictions and special immigration measures in place which constantly changes as the pandemic unfolds.
Despite the uncertainty in Canada, however, employers and workers can be confident that Canada will process new applications submitted during the pandemic and facilitate the entry of new permanent and temporary residents as long as the eligibility criteria are met.
Currently, Canada has exempted some new permanent residents’ travel restrictions. The country is also issuing new permanent residence invitations to successful immigrants.
What is Trump’s New Executive Order?
Until the end of 2020, the United States will not issue new green cards (or permanent resident status) to applicants for immigration outside the country. In addition, it also suspends various employment-related visas until the end of the year.
These include the following visas:
- H-1B: Occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge
- H-2B: Seasonal non-agricultural workers
- J: Work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs
- L: Intra-company transfers
Major Canadian Immigration Alternatives
While Canada and the United States are both federal countries, the Canadian provinces have more immigration authority than the United States.
When Canada was founded in 1867, the Constitution described immigration as a matter of shared federal and provincial jurisdiction, with the federal government having the final say. In practice, this means that the federal government and 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories operate their own economic immigrant selection programs.
Today, Canada offers more than 80 economy-class immigration routes to skilled workers in the United States and around the world.
The most important route is the federal Express Entry program. Interested candidates can submit their profiles for free on the federal government website. The federal government then scores them based on their age, education, English and/or French skills, work experience, among other factors.
Every two weeks, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government organizes Express Entry draws in which it invites the highest-rated immigrants to apply for permanent residence. After submitting their application for permanent residence, successful applicants can expect their application to be processed within 6 months.
The second most important permanent residency program is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Almost all provinces and territories use the PNP to host skilled workers who meet the needs of their local labor market. Applicants can submit their application directly to the province of their interest. They can also submit an Express Entry profile to give provinces the opportunity to review their credentials and contact them directly about immigration in their jurisdiction.
Quebec’s Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) is the third major option. It manages various programs similar to those offered by the federal government and other provinces. Speaking French is the key to successfully immigrating to Quebec. The PNP and the Quebec immigration system continued to operate during the pandemic. PNP draws take place every week.
Temporary options for Employers and Workers
Canada’s temporary resident options for employers and workers are as diverse as Canada’s PR choices. Whether you are looking for highly skilled worker options, entertainment, and movie options, or you are doing an intra-company transfer, there are several choices available to you in Canada.
Each option has its own eligibility criteria, but there are usually two main routes available.
The first important route is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The TFWP exists to help employers in Canada hire workers when Canadians are not available to do the job. It requires a labor market test called a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employers must demonstrate to the Canadian government through the LMIA that hiring a foreign worker will not harm Canadian workers.
The second, broader path is called the International Mobility Program (IMP). It exists to promote Canada’s broader economic and social goals, and many choices of skilled workers are available because they are in the economic interest of Canada. For example, many skilled workers can work in Canada without LMIAs because of Canada’s free trade agreements with the United States and many other industrialized countries. LMIAs are not required in the IMP streams and therefore it is much easier for employers and workers to search for IMP options.
Processing times vary depending on the options, but they can be very quick. Canada’s Global Talent Stream does not require an LMIA and allows Canadian employers to hire technicians within 10 days. Under Canada’s current travel laws, temporary workers can continue to enter the country until the purpose of their trip is optional. For example, entering Canada to look for an existing job meets the definition of non-optional travel.