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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Immigration to Canada

is connected to the pandemic

by Michael Scott

There is every reason to believe that Canada is intent on meeting its ambitious goals of 400,000 landings in 2021 despite the rise in COVID infections in Canada, especially variants. While there are more vaccines arriving to insulate our vulnerable population, there is also the challenge of an economic recovery from the pandemic and a federal election later in the year looming large in the minds of our federal political parties and the electorate at large. We need to control the pandemic but Manitoba remains one of the leading provinces in the spread of COVID-19, especially the variants. One way to ensure economic recovery, public confidence, and to change the trajectory for the province, for the country, for the political fortunes of the governing Liberal party and individual Canadians, is through immigration changes.

The country is moving to control the virus spread inside Canada through a vaccine campaign, social distancing and mask wearing, as well as limiting entrants to the Canada from world hot spots such as India at present and Europe and the United States in the past. The effect of making admissions from foreign countries harder has been to limit immigration to Canada to record lows in 2020.

Canada made a conscious choice of meeting its ambitious targets for 2020 by rectifying the situation regarding the spread of the COVID virus but also by accelerating the process of permanent residency for foreign workers, students and visitors inside the country. The challenge is both to attract applicants from abroad as well as encourage those inside Canada not to leave.

First, there is good news about the numbers who have been vaccinated inside Canada and also with the projected opening of the country’s border to foreign entrants by the summertime. This is especially true of persons travelling north from the United States. Canada has traditionally opened its borders to Americans. There is every reason to believe the Canadian government and the Biden administration in the US are moving towards a relaxation of border crossing and a resumption of economic activity for the countries of North American, which includes immigration under CUSA (formerly NAFTA) for temporary workers and company transfers. The opening of the Canada/US border expected by summer would be one of the first indicators of the normalizing of relations with foreign lands and the movement of not only of goods but also workers and visitors.

Canada is currently adjusting to the restrictions on foreign travel by placing priority on Express Entry applicants who are inside Canada and meet the stated requirements of the Canadian Experience Class. The numbers of invitations from those applying from outside the country under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) are expected to increase with the relaxation of entry requirements and the opening of borders. Another noticeable change has been the recent changes to enhance the chances for temporary foreign workers and international student graduates, such as the recent announcement of the 90,000 priority spots. There have never been more opportunities for recent graduates and persons who have worked legally at least one year inside Canada. Even visitors who were in the country before August 2020 can obtain a work permit from inside Canada if they have an approved job offer (LMIA or Labour Market Impact Assessment).

According to the sources quoted in Canada Immigration News, we can expect a number of other positive changes in immigration processing in the near future. This will include the introduction of the Municipal Nominee Program (MNP), the waiving of fees for Canadian citizenship applications, the opening of the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) for 2021 and the Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024. Minister Mendicino shall continue with the government’s plan to reach and exceed the projected 400,000 landings for 2021. Immigration remains one of the achievements of the government and something they hope to showcase for an autumn election (possibly September of this year).

It is time for applicants to make themselves aware of the chances in immigration programs, especially those introduce by the minister under his Public Policy discretion, which can be readily introduced without passing changes in the Immigration Act or Regulations through parliament. But first there is a series of cause-and-effect changes that must occur, such as vaccination rates going up, infections and spread of the pandemic going down, borders reopening and economic activity and immigration landings increasing. All of these things are expected to take place by the autumn, just in time for a federal election to determine if the Liberals can change their status from a minority government to a majority. Stay tuned and aware of the changes.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: mscott.ici@gmail.com.

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