Immigration is a vital part of Canada’s system; it keeps a steady influx of talented people coming into the country from all over the world. Accepting immigrants also strengthens partnerships between countries of origin and people’s destinations.
While there are many social, economic and cultural benefits to immigration, a country that has opened its borders to migrants must do so without unduly risking the health and safety of its citizens and residents. Because of this, immigration officers have had to realize the impact of COVID-19 developments on some of the easiest ways of immigrating to Canada.
Pending and incomplete applications
According to the CIC or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, current applications continue to be processed. The main challenge, however, is the completion of required documents. In some cases, applicants are finding it challenging to gather all their requirements since institutions and government offices have yet to reopen in their country.
Applications like these shall be retained for 90 days and reviewed for 60 more days. In cases where there are outstanding documents, the CIC will provide the applicant with 60 more days to provide the documents.
If the application has yet to be submitted and the applicant knows that their submission will contain incomplete requirements due to COVID-19 closures, a note should be provided that states as much. This should include photos where applicable. In the case of spousal sponsorship applications, records of the solemnization of marriage can be accepted, with the marriage certificate to follow.
Biometrics and other certifications
As of the moment, the CIC has not decided if biometrics will be available at the Port of Entry. People with pending applications should check routinely for updates regarding this matter. Those who are waiting for resident cards or certifications, though, have set guidelines.
Persons who have received their Confirmation of Permanent Residence or COPR before 18 March 2020 can still travel to the country. CIC has advised that for those yet to land as permanent residents, flagpoling is not a viable option. The CIC is yet to decide on procedures for permanent residents who have not signed their COPR.
As for new Permanent Resident or PR cards, these will either be sent inland or directly to the applicant or their representative in their country of origin. In-person interviews are suspended as of the time being, as the CIC continues to search for alternatives.
On new applications for residency
The CIC is looking into suspending Express Entry draws, as there are plenty of difficulties in submitting complete applications at the moment. They are still looking into the possibility of accepting electronic credentials from academic institutions and language exam centers.
Other options for permanent residency are still being accepted, though there will be a backlog in applications since there are fewer staffers working onsite. Interested applicants should consider consulting an immigration lawyer for help in exploring residency options.
Regarding valid work permits
Applicants who have recently-issued permits or work permit approval letters can still enter Canada, provided that they carry information from their Canadian employer that the position they applied for is still available.
The CIC is yet to provide guidance to those intending to work in the country but has no work permit or no employer’s letter, like visa-exempt or work permit-exempt individuals entering through an International Mobility Worker Unit opinion, PNP work permit support letter, or LMIA.
Expiring work and study permits
IRCC is developing possible bulletins for work or study permit holders whose certificates are about to expire and are unable to obtain a new passport. In the meantime, the existing study permit holders must confirm that their learning institution is still offering classes.
According to the IRCC, the only signature currently required from applicants of inbound refugee status is on the Use of Representative Form. In place of other documentary proof, the CIC requires only a photocopy of the biographical page of the applicant’s passport and answers to 15 questions to be provided by the office.
The CIC is tasked with balancing economic growth and safety when deciding on matters regarding immigration. This is crucial particularly in a time of global crisis, such as what the world is facing at the moment. Both inbound and inland applications for immigration have their challenges within the ‘new normal,’ which will affect how to immigrate to Canada in the future.
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