The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented global challenges, affecting nearly every aspect of society. In Canada, a country known for its welcoming immigration policies, the pandemic has had a profound impact on immigration procedures and policies. This article explores the evolving landscape of Canada’s immigration system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for immigrants and refugees.
Temporary Travel Restrictions and Border Closures
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly, Canada implemented temporary travel restrictions and border closures to limit the entry of foreign nationals and non-essential travelers. These measures were crucial in controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the health of Canadians.
Although the imposed restrictions were essential for maintaining public health, they significantly affected immigration. Numerous immigrants on their way to Canada encountered delays and unpredictability. Likewise, temporary foreign workers and international students already in the country faced obstacles like travel constraints and mandatory quarantine procedures.
Temporary Foreign Workers and Critical Employees
The pandemic underscored the value of critical employees, including many temporary foreign workers, across various industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and food processing. To guarantee the uninterrupted supply of crucial goods and services, Canada implemented measures to support these temporary foreign workers.
One key initiative was the creation of a Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR to PR) pathway for essential workers. This program, launched in May 2021, offers a pathway to permanent residency for eligible workers who contributed significantly to Canada’s COVID-19 response.
International students make a significant contribution to Canada’s economy and academic institutions. However, the pandemic disrupted the plans of many international students who were unable to travel to Canada due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
To address these challenges, Canada introduced flexibility in its immigration policies for international students. For example, students who were unable to study in Canada due to the pandemic could still count the time spent studying online from their home countries towards their eligibility for post-graduation work permits (PGWP).
Express Entry and Immigration Levels
Canada’s Express Entry system, which manages applications for three of the country’s major economic immigration programs (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class), continued to operate during the pandemic. However, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points system was adjusted to give more weight to candidates with Canadian work experience, as they were deemed more likely to successfully integrate into the Canadian workforce, this system may be confusing for some, reputable lawyers, such as the ones from Bellissimo Law Group, can help example the details.
Canada also adjusted its immigration levels plan in response to the pandemic. The government increased its immigration targets to make up for the reduced number of immigrants in 2020 due to travel restrictions. In 2021, Canada aimed to welcome over 400,000 new permanent residents, with plans to maintain high immigration levels in the coming years.
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Immigration
The pandemic raised concerns about the safety and well-being of refugees and asylum seekers. Travel restrictions made it difficult for refugees to seek asylum at Canadian borders, leading to delays and challenges in the processing of claims.
In response, Canada implemented measures to ensure the continued processing of refugee claims, including conducting interviews and hearings remotely. The government also introduced a one-year window for asylum claimants who had missed deadlines due to the pandemic to submit their claims.
The pandemic underscored the importance of essential workers and the contributions of immigrants to Canada’s society and economy. It also accelerated the adoption of technology in immigration processing, improving efficiency and accessibility in some areas.
As Canada continues to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, its commitment to a diverse and inclusive immigration system remains steadfast. The nation’s response to the pandemic demonstrates its determination to welcome newcomers, support essential workers, and maintain a strong immigration program that benefits both the country and those seeking to make it their new home.