Many people around the world have been keeping an eye on the latest COVID-19 news, especially those who have been considering moving to Canada in the near future. You may be asking yourself how this will affect your Canadian immigration application, as well as how coronavirus restrictions will affect your immigration plans.
In the latest interview on Canada's television show, The Agenda, Marco Mendicino, Canada's Immigration Minister, gave his insights on how the country's immigration system plans to handle the effects of COVID-19.
In his interview, Mendicino spoke about three main topics:
- Canada's new Immigration Levels for 2021 - 2023
- Canadian Citizenship; and
- The Municipal Nominee Program.
Source: The Agenda with Steve Paikin
When looking back at the uncertainty of Canada's Coronavirus Outlook, it is evident that many improvements and strides have been taken to not only protect Candian citizens but permanent residents too.
How Canada Plans to Up Its Immigration Levels
As Canada plans to increase it's immigration levels over the next three years from 1 million to 1.2 million, many have been questioning whether or not this is a realistic expectation considering the effects of the coronavirus restrictions on travel in and out of Canada.
Immigration Plans for 2021 -2023 are as follows:
- 401,000 newcomers to be invited in 2021
- 411,000 newcomers to be invited in 2022
- 421,000 newcomers to be invited in 2023
Minister Mendicino assured the public that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) have been taking innovative steps to ensure that these immigration targets will be met. Currently, essential workers, certain temporary foreign workers working in in-demand occupations as well as international students enrolled in COVID-ready universities and colleges are being permitted to enter Canada.
Will I Still Be Able to Get Canadian Citizenship?
As thousands of Canadians have opted to stay indoors due to social distancing and other COVID regulations, citizenship ceremonies were temporarily put on hold. However, there have been discussions about creating a new pilot program to allow permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship online. This is apparently the first of its kind and is part of Mendicino's plan to take almost all of Canada's immigration application processes online and make it contactless and safer for its applicants.
Another initiative, stated in his December 2019 mandate letter, was to make Canadian citizenship applications free of charge. This is still on the cards as far as Mendicino is concerned and is still very eager to make the integration process for all newcomers as easy as possible.
In the meantime, Canada has been having online citizenship ceremonies.
The Municipal Program - Is This Still a Possibility?
Another initiative mentioned during the December 2019 mandate after the Liberals took the elections, which has yet to make its way into Canada's immigration system, is the Municipal Nominee Program(MNP). The MNP was to be an initiative to help attract foreign skilled worker to smaller cities and communities in Canada, much like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. This is to be a federal program, which is currently still in the planning and stages, with discussions taking place between the IRCC, provincial governments and other stakeholders.
Moving to Canada - Should I Hold My Breath?
The short answer is yes. But not to worry, you won't have to for too much longer. For one, Canada has already released its plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. It has been announced that the vaccine will be provided to those who are in greatest need and at high risk first before being distributed to the general public for free. Canadians were also assured that no one would be forced to take the vaccine, however, that it would be made available to everyone.
Another promising reason to start your application sooner rather than later is that Canada's Immigration Department has not slowed down on processing visa applications. In fact, it has started to process more applications than ever before. It flagship immigration program, the Express Entry system, for example, reached a record high of issuing 5,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency every two weeks.
PLEASE NOTE: Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates are, however, currently being given preference due to the backlog experienced due to the pandemic.
The most important factors regarding travelling to Canada are as follow:
- You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days as soon as you arrive in Canada
- You must have a negative COVID-19 test or a positive COVID-19 molecular test (taken at least 14 to 90 days before your flight departs)
- Certain countries have been temporarily been restricted from travelling to Canada namely: Mexico, The United States, Caribbean countries as well as Central and South America.
“No one should be travelling right now. Each of us has a part in keeping our communities safe, and that means avoiding non-essential travel, which can put you, your loved ones, and your community at risk. The new measures announced today will be an important tool for protecting our communities, and increasing our compliance and enforcement capacity will help us keep all Canadians safe from COVID-19.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
For more information about everything you need to know about settling in Canada amidst the pandemic, visit our blog here.
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