On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic. The Canadian government has unveiled aggressive new measures to contain the coronavirus and this has direct impact on Canadian immigration. This bulletin will provide a summary of the key immigration updates for the period between August 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020.
Post-Graduation Work Permit
On August 26, 2020, Immigration Canada announced three temporary changes on post-graduation work permit eligibility for students beginning programs online; namely:
- 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.
Temporary Policy for Visitors to apply for a Work Permit without leaving Canada
On August 24, 2020, Immigration Canada announced a new temporary public policy, which allows a visitor to apply for an employer specific work permit without having to leave Canada. This temporary public policy also provides the opportunity for applicants who meet these criteria and who had a valid work permit in the past 12 months to begin working for their new employer before their work permit application has been fully approved. Please note the foreign national must receive an email from Immigration Canada that confirms the foreign national can commence work in Canada for the new employer during the processing of the work permit application before the foreign national can commence work in Canada.
On August 21, 2020, the Government of Canada announced Immigration Canada will have access to Canada Border Services Agency's Entry/Exit Information System via the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to:
- verify residency requirements to process an ongoing application by objectively verifying information provided by the client, such as in applications for grants of citizenship or permanent resident cards;
- verify if a temporary residence applicant may have previously overstayed their allowable period of admission in Canada; and
- assist in an investigation of an individual's entitlement to a Canadian travel document.
In addition, Immigration Canada will be able to use entry and exit information to:
- verify that sponsors are residing in Canada;
- verify the residency of spouses and partners under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class;
- verify whether or not a refugee claimant entered Canada using their travel documents; and
- support investigations of possible fraud in relation to immigration, citizenship, and passport and travel document programs.
On March 20, 2020, the Governor General issued two Orders in Council pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act. The effect of these is the creation of a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals travelling to Canada from overseas and from the United States, unless the foreign nationals meet one of the exemptions to the travel ban. The travel ban applies to travel by land, air and water, and prevents foreign nationals from travelling to Canada for optional or discretionary purposes, such as tourism or recreation. The Government of Canada extended the US travel ban for 30 days until September 21, 2020. Further, the Government of Canada extended the non-US travel ban for 30 days until September 30, 2020.
Guidelines for Canadian immigration and travel are evolving quickly and are subject to frequent change with little to no prior notice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.