How Has COVID-19 Affected Immigration in Canada?
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted many of the regular functions of Canadian society, including movement in and out of the country. These changes have been of particular concern to people who were, or who are, planning to move to Canada, including international students, newly accepted permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, and refugees. The changes have also impacted some of the experienced immigration lawyers listed in our comprehensive lawyer directory.
How Has COVID-19 Affected Movement In and Out of Canada?
In early March, the federal government enacted sweeping restrictions limiting access to the country. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, people registered under the Indian Act, and protected persons (people who have reason to fear persecution in their country of origin) were permitted to enter, as were certain eligible foreign nationals.
Almost as soon as those changes came into effect, the government implemented some important exemptions. Temporary foreign workers, who are critical to Canada’s food supply chain, were permitted to enter. So were international students and new permanent residents approved on or before March 18, 2020.
In June, additional exemptions allowed for the entry of immediate family members of citizens and permanent residents, provided they planned to stay in Canada for at least 15 days.
In all cases, people entering Canada from abroad are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Where Does That Leave Canada’s Immigration Service?
Just days before the launch of sweeping lockdowns across Canada, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced that Canada would aim to increase immigration over the coming years.
“At its core, immigration is about people coming together to build a stronger country, which is what we’ve seen throughout our history, throughout this pandemic, and, I’m confident, what we will see in the future,” he said at the time.
Understandably, new arrivals slowed to a trickle in March and April before increasing in May. Immigration lawyers expect a surge of applications in the second half of 2020 and into the foreseeable future. Events in the United States are a major contributing factor: Not only has that country failed miserably to contain the spread of the virus, but President Donald Trump has aggressively restricted immigrant access, which may push skilled labour to Canada.
So, despite the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian immigration lawyers expect new arrivals to remain robust in the coming years. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have extended deadlines for new applicants who have not been able to access proper paperwork or biometrics. It has also loosened restrictions on study and work permit holders affected by the pandemic.
If you have questions about Canada’s immigration policies or otherwise require the services of an experienced immigration lawyer, our comprehensive Canadian lawyer directory is a great place to start. The rigorously vetted lawyers on this site are all in good standing with their respective provincial bodies.