The policies imposed to combat COVID-19 have drastically reduced the ability of the Canadian authorities to welcome new permanent residents and applicants with work permits and study permits. It is likely that the Canadian federal government will be unable to meet its targets set for 2023 to increase immigration levels and boost the country’s economic recovery.
Presently, not much can be said about when the travel restrictions and border policies will be lifted as the virus is rapidly spreading across Canada and the world. This article will walk you through the travelling and immigration policies imposed by Canada in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is everything you need to know:
Immigration to Canada During COVID-19 Pandemic
The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is currently accepting applications for permanent residency; however, the authorities have not given any estimates required the processing times.
The Canadian authorities maintain that they will give priority to applications submitted by citizens who are vulnerable, perform essential services, or seek to return to Canada. All candidates are advised to submit their full applications and wait to apply as it is difficult to obtain all the required paperwork given the coronavirus restrictions and worldwide lockdown.
Many of the documents that are difficult to obtain include passports, medical exams, biometrics, police certifications and others. Applications are being allotted a rolling 90-day extension to catch up with their paperwork.
Earlier, the authorities suspended language tests however some testing centres have begun to reopen and resume activities. Candidates who have been approved for permanent residents cannot travel to Canada unless they are exempt from the restrictions.
Under Which Cases Candidates Can Have An Exemption?
- Their permanent residence application was confirmed before 18th March, 2020.
- They have been sponsored by an immediate family member who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and their permanent residence application has been confirmed.
- They are currently residing in the United States and traveling directly to Canada.
Traveling During COVID-19 Pandemic
Canada, alongside other countries in the world, have responded to the coronavirus pandemic by ordering border closures, imposing travel restrictions and mandatory isolation requirements on travelers allowed to enter the country. Canada has recently made the decision to extend its border closure and travel restrictions until January 21, 2021.
Those who are allowed to enter the country will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period to ensure that they are safe and test negative for the virus.
Who can travel to Canada during the pandemic?
A wide majority of foreigners are forbidden from travelling to Canada during the pandemic but there are some exemptions.
Who Can Enter Canada By Land Or Air?
- Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
- Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who seek to enter Canada for non-discretionary circumstances.
- Long-term partners or extended family members for Canadian citizens and permanent residents (after applying for written authorization from the IRCC)
- Immediate family members of temporary Canadian residents (after obtaining written authorization from the IRCC).
- Temporary workers with a valid work permit or work permit approval and awaiting issuance.
- Participants of ICE with inactivated work permits and a valid job offer.
- ICE participants with an activated work permit and were abroad temporarily.
- Foreign students enrolled in a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with a valid study permit or letter of introduction.
- COPR-holders with a valid COPR who are living in any country besides the US and were approved before March 18th, 2020, and are traveling with the intention of settling permanently.
- COPR-holders with a valid COPR and were living in the US and gain approval on any date and seek to enter Canada with the intention of settling down permanently.
- Travelers who are granted special permission to enter Canada on “compassionate” grounds.
Benefits for Immigrants
The Government of Canada has allocated a $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund to aid its citizens and permanent residents with rent, groceries, and other necessities. The federal government is also aiding businesses across the country help their employees and prevent dismissals and layoffs.
- Canada offers individuals a temporary top-up to workers who earn less than $2,500 a month. The Canada Child Benefit Program (CCB) offers $300 extra for every child to families with children. The Canadian government is also providing a one-time payment, issued from the Goods and Service, to families with low and modest incomes.
- Couples and families are also being allocated tax credits ranging between $400 and $600. The Canadian government has decided to withdraw interest payments on student loans to aid students in continuing their education. This measure of interest-free loans will last for six months, allowing students to save up some money.
- Students and recent graduates have also been given a monthly payment worth $1,250 a month to make up for the challenges triggered by a deficit of summer jobs in the wake of the pandemic.
- Immigrants, workers and business owners can also benefit from the measures introduced by the economic incentives that offer enhanced tax flexibility. The federal taxation deadline has been delayed until June 2021. However, individuals who are applying for the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) must file their returns. The Canada Revenue Agency has temporarily suspended audit inspections for a wide array of industry sectors and businesses.
- A vast majority of the immigrants settled in Canada run their own businesses and they have been drastically affected by the coronavirus and the resulting economic shutdown. The Canadian government has introduced three major economic programs to help these entrepreneurs.
These programs are as follows:
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Under the CEWS program, eligible employers can enjoy a 75% wage subsidy for around 12 weeks. This subsidy is aimed at aiding entrepreneurs in retaining employees and preventing widespread unemployment.
2. Business Credit Availability (BCAP) & Export Development Canada (EDC)
Aimed at supporting small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), these two programs will provide financial support to businesses and collaborate with private-sector lenders. This collaboration will aid in creating credit solutions for businesses from various sectors, including farmers, agricultural businesses, tourism, transportation, oil and gas, and more.
3. The Bank of Canada Initiative
The Bank of Canada has stepped in to aid financial institutions to maintain their liquidity and finance credit extensions to corporations and homeowners by reducing the interest rate to 0.75%.
All those who are making plans to travel to Canada, be it as a temporary worker or a visitor from a foreign country, must be sure to invest in travel insurance for Canada.
Those who are relocating to Canada under a permanent residence program can qualify for the federal government’s healthcare insurance in the country. However, in order to enjoy this publicly-funded healthcare, the candidate will have to wait for several months.
Most international students and foreigners with work permits can also meet the eligibility criterion for public healthcare insurance. However, if that is not the case, they can apply for private medical insurance.
Candidates traveling to Canada through the IEC Working Holiday Program are required to carry insurance that lasts throughout the duration of their work permit. If the employer of a candidate or immigrant does not provide provincial healthcare and medical coverage, the candidate will have to get separate insurance.
There are various insurance programs in Canada, and it is advisable to conduct research and explore the eligibility criterion of each program to make the right choice.
FAQs on Canadian Immigration During COVID-19
Yes, you can enter Canada if you meet the eligibility criteria of a close family member or extended relative, as long as your relative is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The parents, step-parents, romantic partners or children and guardians or tutors of a citizen or permanent resident are considered as immediate family members.
Siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, and grandparents are considered extended family members. You can also travel to your relatives on “compassionate” grounds as long as the IRCC approves your application with written authorization.
The Canadian authorities are accepting applications to their various immigration programs. However, given the travel restrictions and worldwide economic shutdown, no estimated date has come forward regarding the processing time of immigration applications. It is ideal to keep following up on the IRCC and immigration websites to stay abreast of recent news.
The International Experience Canada (IEC) pools for the 2020 season have closed now. Given the travel restrictions and temporary measures imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the IEC will not be sending out its final invitation for 2020.
Invitations are still being issued through the Express Entry. The pattern for the Express Entry draw has remained quite similar to the patterns observed before the coronavirus pandemic. Consult with regulated immigration Consultants, specialists in the Canadian visa system.