Immigration Regulation Changes through COVID-19
The novel coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) has hit the world suddenly since March 2020, and it has officially been announced as a pandemic few months ago. Canadian immigration regulations have changed accordingly to cope with the pandemic, and numerous immigrants are panicking as their original plans to immigrate to Canada have been impacted by recent regulation changes.
In this article, we’ll demonstrate several changes that Government of Canada has made, so that you can better prepare for your immigration to Canada.
IMMIGRATION REGULATION CHANGES
Immigration regulations have changed to suit the current needs of immigrants, temporary foreign workers, international students, and Canadian business owners.
Anyone that’s eligible and is planning to come into Canada must provide a 14-day quarantine plan when they arrive in Canada. This is mandatory, even if the travelers have no symptoms.
Border Entry & Exit
The borders between Canada and US are currently being restricted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, this measure has affected immigrants who had planned to visit the border for their temporary resident visas, permanent resident cards, and more. We strongly encourage anyone that’s planning to visit the border by driving to call the designated border before leaving to ensure you can achieve what you are planning for. As the border restriction and regulation is frequently updated, please ensure to double check the most recent information to ensure your plan is solid.
Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)
On August 26, 2020, the Government of Canada has announced three changes that have been made regarding Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). International students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester to be eligible for the program.
- Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.
- Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
- Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a post-graduation work permit in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.
Open Work Permit Pilot Program
On July 30, 2020, the Government of Canada made an announcement that they are extending the Open Work Permit Pilot for spouses and common-law partners who are applying for permanent residence under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class. This indicates that the spouses or common-law partners can work legally in Canada while waiting for their Permanent Resident status.
In order to be eligible under this program, the spouses or common-law partners must be living in Canada currently. They also must have submitted the application under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class. Lastly, they should have a valid temporary resident status, or at least be eligible to restore their lost status.
On July 15, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have made a public statement that temporary residents applying from within Canada are exempt from providing the biometrics due to public health concerns (COVID-19) until further notice. This indicates that even if the application portal may prompt applicants to pay $85 for the biometrics fee, they don’t need to take any actions. If the applicant made a mistake and paid the biometrics fee, then IRCC will send a refund upon finalization of the application.
On July 14, 2020, temporary residents who have lost their visa status and who are currently in Canada can now apply for restoration until December 31, 2020 instead of being limited to a regular 90-day period to apply for restoration.
Moreover, former work permit holders who are waiting for restoration application result (employer-specific work permit) can now work legally while they are waiting for the result if they have a valid job offer, submitted a work permit supported by LMIA or LMIA-exempt offer of employment, and notified IRCC through the process.
Work Permit, Study Permit, Visitor Visa, and eTA Online Applications
As of July 1, 2020, IRCC have resumed to process visitor visa and eTA applications. However, IRCC states that even if applicants may get the visa approvals, they may not be able to travel into Canada due to travel restrictions in place.
IRCC is continuing with accepting and processing work permit, study permit, visitor visa, eTA, and permanent resident applications via online. Nonetheless, paper applications for work permit, study permit and visitor visa will not be processed until further notice (June 30, 2020).
Visa Application Centres (VACs)
Some Visa Application Centres (VACs) around the world have limited their services in response to COVID-19.
Some of the VACs that have reopened with limited services as of June 11, 2020 includes:
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- Erbil, Iraq
- Vienna, Austria
- Düsseldorf, Germany
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Tokyo, Japan
- Osaka, Japan
- The Hague, Netherlands
- Rome, Italy
Permanent Resident Government Fee Increase
Effective immediately from April 30, 2020, IRCC has increased the permanent resident application fees except caregivers. Processing fee is now $825/adult and $225/dependent child, right of permanent resident fee is $500/adult.
Reference: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/increase-permanent-residence-fees-effective-april-30.html, https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/fees/fees.asp#permanent
IRCC Client Support Call Centres
Since April 27, 2020, IRCC have resumed the client support call centres for clients to ask inquiries. The hours of operation is form 9am to 5pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program
The Government of Canada has announced that they will officially open Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program from May 15, 2020 until May 14, 2023. Interested applicants can apply for the program online, which more detail is linked below under “Reference”.
Reference: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/update-opening-agrifood-immigration-pilot.html, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/agri-food-pilot.html
Staying on top of all the immigration regulation changes and related updates is essential to plan for your immigration to Canada. If you’d like to consult about your specific situation further, then please contact us or submit a free assessment in our website.