Last updated on April 6th, 2020
During the last two weeks of March, 2020, the Government of Canada implemented many measures in response to the COVID19 pandemic. In the immigration context, these measures included travel bans, the suspension of biometrics and the transition of most Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) officers to remote work. The changes were frequent, dramatic and difficult to keep up with. They have left a lot of prospective immigrants wondering what exactly is open with regards to Canada’s immigration programs.
Please note that this article was written on April 1, 2020.
Canada is currently denying boarding to most foreign nationals on flights to Canada. There are, however, numerous exemptions to this.
First, individuals who are travelling from the United States who have been in the United States for at least 14 days before they try to travel to Canada by land, sea or air, can travel to Canada if they are asymptomatic. Such individuals must show that they are coming to Canada for essential reasons and not for reasons that are optional or discretionary, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
Second, all temporary foreign workers, as well as international students who have a valid study permit or who were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020, and foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before March 18, 2020, but who have not yet travelled to Canada to land as a permanent resident, can travel to Canada.
Third, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can travel to Canada. Immediate family members includes spouses, common-law partners, children under the age of twenty-two and parents. Immediate family members must show that they are coming to Canada for essential reasons and not for reasons that are optional or discretionary, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
Fourth, people who are authorized in writing by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members can enter Canada.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents continue to be allowed to travel to Canada. A major exception to this, however, is that Canadian citizens and permanent residents who show symptoms of COVID19 will not be allowed to board flights to Canada. They can, however, enter by land.
Anyone entering Canada must self-isolate for fourteen days.
IRCC is continuing to process electronic applications. Depending on where a person resides, however, there can be issues in completing biometrics or getting an Immigration Medical Exam. The collection of biometrics has been suspended in Canada and the United States. This means that while applications can be processed up to the point of approval, they cannot be finalized until COVID19 measures are lifted.
IRCC has introduced measures to allow for the temporary processing of applications that are incomplete due to difficulty in obtaining documents because of COVID19. For example, IRCC is accepting permanent resident applications with scanned photographs, missing photographs, etc. They are requiring that applicants inform them that they could not provide the missing documents due to COVID19, and to provide the documents once available.
It is not currently possible to flagpole to obtain a work permit or to land as a permanent resident.
IRCC is accepting new citizenship applications, although it has suspended all citizenship tests.
So What Should People Do?
Given the current travel bans and possible processing delays some have put off submitting their applications until the COVID19 measures are lifted. Many others, however, have decided to proceed, with the thinking being that it is better to get ahead of a possible surge in applications once COVID19 measure re-open. Labour Market Impact Assessment applications continue to be approved with extended validity periods and increased durations for Low-Wage applicants. Express Entry draws continue to happen, and the points have dropped a little bit as people who have not already completed their language test or Educational Credential Assessment can no longer do so. While people who start their applications now are doing so under a period of great uncertainty, it may ultimately prove to be advantageous.
Update – April 6, 2020
The BC PNP COVID page is here – https://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate-to-B-C/B-C-Provincial-Nominee-Program/COVID-19-Updates
Here is some of their FAQ. I encourage readers to browse the rest of that link.
Is the BC PNP office open?
We have temporarily closed our office to in-person inquiries to minimize the risk to our clients and our staff.
We continue to respond to emails and telephone inquiries within 5 business days.
Please do not courier or drop off materials to our office at this time. We will update our website once we have further instructions regarding courier deliveries.
We continue to receive regular mail sent via Canada Post.
Can I still submit a registration to the BC PNP?
Yes, you can still submit a registration using the BCPNP Online system. Before you submit your registration, make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the category you are applying to.
You can find details about each category’s requirements in the Program Guides. These guides are on the Documents page of our website.
Is COVID-19 impacting invitations to apply?
How and when we invite registrants to apply is subject to change.
Please visit the Invitations to Apply page of our website for regular updates.
Is the BC PNP still accepting applications?
Yes. While our office is temporarily closed to in-person inquiries, our BC PNP Online system is still operational.
We continue to receive and process applications from those who have been invited to apply.
Applications can be submitted using the BCPNP Online system.
Is COVID-19 impacting BC PNP processing times?
We continue to receive and process all applications for both Entrepreneur Immigration and Skills Immigration categories. Applications can be submitted using the BCPNP Online system. We are within our standard processing times, which are posted on our website.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have cancelled in-person interviews for entrepreneur applicants. We will re-schedule these interviews when we are able.
We continue to accept and assess final reports received from entrepreneur applicants. These can be submitted using the BCPNP Online system.
We understand that some registrants or applicants are having trouble getting information to BC PNP staff. This can include delays with submitting documents, applying, responding to Procedural Fairness letters, and other program deadlines.
These delays may affect our ability to finalize our assessment.
We encourage you to email us and explain your specific circumstances as needed. We will take this into consideration when assessing your application.
The ITA page notes that certain occupations were excluded from the most recent draw.