How is COVID-19 Impacting Canada Immigration?
Since March of 2020, the novel coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) has spread significantly worldwide, and thus have impacted the global economy, health systems, politics, regulations, and more. Many of our daily routines and lives have changed. This includes immigration situations in Canada.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into different perspectives on how COVID-19 has influenced Canadian immigration systems, and what a potential future outlook may be.
IMMIGRATION REGULATION CHANGES
Immigration regulations have changed to suit the current needs of immigrants, temporary foreign workers, international students, and Canadian business owners.
LMIA-based Work Permit: Both Service Canada and CIC is open for business, and they are currently processing LMIA and work permit applications. However, we should expect some delays due to COVID-19. Service Canada has stopped receiving applications via mail, thus all LMIA applications must be submitted by online portal or email. CIC still accepts paper-based applications.
Working Holiday (International Experience Canada): For temporary foreign workers that are currently out of Canada who have been approved as working holiday, they are now eligible to apply for an extension of Port of Entry Letter for 90 days. If the foreign worker cannot enter Canada due to prolonged situation from COVID-19, then they are eligible to apply for another 90 days extension.
Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP): No changes yet, but we should anticipate a delay.
Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP): No changes yet, but we should anticipate a delay.
Study Permit & Post Graduate Work Permit
Study Permit: No particular changes yet, but the Government of Canada has indicated that they will accelerate the processing time for study permit, so that any eligible international students who wish to study in Canada can start the process as soon as possible.
Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP): Eligible applicants can now apply for PGWP within 180 days instead of 90 days of receiving a written confirmation of graduation from designated learning institution (DLI).
Moreover, the Government of Canada has announced that international students who choose to study via online in their home countries (meaning out of Canada) are now eligible to apply for PGWP as long as they meet the criteria.
Lastly, it is ideal for international students who have recently graduated from designated learning institution to stay in Canada, and apply for post graduate work permits. Legally speaking, they are allowed to apply for PGWP after graduation in their home countries, but it’s possible that they may not be able to enter back to Canada due to COVID-19. Anything can happen by exiting Canada, and there can be a regulation change that we don’t expect.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): No changes yet in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, but we should anticipate a delay.
Express Entry (EE): No changes yet, but we should anticipate a delay.
CHANGES IN DAILY LIFESTYLE
Temporary Foreign Workers
It has extremely difficult for foreign workers, as numerous jobs have been lost and businesses have shut down. Therefore, it’s become more harder for the workers to find a job that can sponsor their work permit if they need LMIA, and also to keep a job if they already have one. Nevertheless, the foreign workers who specialize in particular industries that are in need of foreign workers such as farming and meat processing tend to find the jobs more easier.
Countless number of international students have gone back to their own country due to COVID-19. These students pay a lot more than regular students who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens. Thus, they choose to either delay their graduation as they cannot take courses in-class, or just choose to study by online courses. As the Government of Canada announced that international students will be eligible to apply for post graduate work permit even if they study outside of Canada via online, more international students choose to go back to their home country. This saves their living expenses in Canada as most of them don’t need to pay their monthly rental fee unlike staying in Canada.
OTHER INDUSTRIES IMPACTED
Canadian Labour Force
Overall, many businesses have filed bankruptcy, and numerous people have lost their jobs. As a result, most industries don’t need foreign workers anymore. Nonetheless, there are specific industries that used to rely heavily on foreign workers are suffering due to travel restrictions put in place. For instance, agriculture industry is in trouble due to lack of foreign workers who used to come cannot come, thus they have higher demand for workers.
Real Estate Rental Market
The overall rental price have fallen across Canada. This is due to many international students going out of Canada to either delay their studies or take online courses. Moreover, many investment properties that used to be operated as Airbnb have now turned to long-term tenant rental properties due to COVID-19. The increase in rental property inventory, and a reduction of demand have caused the rental prices to fall. This is especially apparent in Toronto where a large number of colleges and international students are concentrated.
Thousands of businesses have already filed bankruptcy across Canada, and it seriously is a very difficult time for business owners in Canada. Major brands such as GNC Holdings Inc., Chuck E. Cheese parent company, and more than 1,600 locations of Wendy’s and Pizza Hut franchisee have filed bankruptcy. Not only that, there are countless number of small businesses that have shut down their businesses due to COVID-19.
POSSIBLE FUTURE OUTLOOK
This is a potential future outlook of how COVID-19 may impact Canadian immigration systems based on the data and research.
Work Permit Applications
Immigration professionals expect work permit applications to be harder to get approved by the Government, as there are so many local Canadians who have lost their jobs. Therefore, it has become more harder for most Canadian businesses who are trying to sponsor their foreign workers to explain why they couldn’t find a suitable local candidate where there should be more people who are looking for a job.
Study Permit Applications
Based on the data we collected, many experts expect the study permit applications to be easier and faster as Canada has lost a significant amount of revenue from international students when the pandemic subsides to bring back the lost students. The revenue generated from tuition fees just by international students are billions of dollars, and as COVID-19 has motivated many international students to stop studying, we expect the Government to intervene to make this process more easier to prompt international students to come back to study, or to start their studies via online at their home country. However, while the pandemic is ongoing with cases moving up, then the study permit applications are likely to be harder as the application process can become slower, and the barrier to entry to Canada becomes tougher, especially when international students are encouraged to study by taking online courses at home.
The professionals expect Canadian investment immigration programs to become more accepted and encouraged by the Government of Canada. There are many regional and provincial investment pilot programs that encourages immigrants to invest in Canadian businesses to immigrate to Canada. As there are countless number of businesses across Canada that have either already filed bankruptcy or is going to file bankruptcy soon, it may be a good idea in the Government’s perspective to motivate more immigrant investors to leverage these investment programs to immigrate. This can not only help Canadian business owners to exit from their businesses financially stronger, but also it can help immigrant investors to buy a valuable asset cheaper while immigrating to Canada through these programs.
This article only looked into a few perspectives on Canadian immigration situations.
If you’d like to consult about your specific situation further, then please contact us or submit a free assessment in our website.