Canada immigration's trajectory will be based on two major issues - containing COVID-19 and federal elections. In this article, we will discuss these issues.
What's the COVID situation in Canada?
COVID-19 has major implications for Canada's immigration policies. Every policy decision-making is influenced by the ability of the Immigration Department to manage disruption related to COVID. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have introduced a dizzying number of policy changes and new programs as it aims to meet the country's immigration goals to the best of its ability amid a pandemic.
The past few months have seen a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases across Canada. The third wave of the virus has resulted in new lockdowns in Canada's two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, and the fourth largest province, Alberta.
Fortunately, things have improved in recent weeks. New cases of COVID-19 now have a downward trend nationwide after Canada struck more than 10,000 daily cases during parts of April. This is due to stricter public health measures and Canada's vaccination campaign starting to work.
Canada has now received over 20 million doses of the vaccine.
Over 40% of the eligible Canadian population has received at least one injection, meaning that Canada ranks in the top five OECD countries to that extent alongside Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States and Chile.
Canada expects to receive more than 20 million more doses by the end of June, and many federal and provincial political leaders have said they hope the country can return to some form of normalcy this summer.
Canada's ability to return to a more normal situation would significantly alter the Canadian government's immigration calculation. Namely, the public health and safety services of the federal government and IRCC could then give more consideration to welcoming more foreign nationals from abroad.
Canada Elections Update
According to some of the press reports, the Prime Minister is planning to call a federal election in the second half of 2021. Rumors suggest this will be related to the point above. In other words, if the vaccination campaign is executed successfully and Canada defeats the pandemic, Trudeau could end up with stronger public support that will propel him to a third term. Trudeau won a majority government in 2015, but only got a minority in 2019 as his public support waned. However, polls show he remains the most popular leader among Canada's major federal political parties and can secure a majority.
The last two elections were called at the end of the summer and took place in October. Cabinets were then announced in November or December, and the new government began to govern in January. Election campaigns in Canada rarely take place before Christmas due to the importance of the winter holidays in the country. Therefore, we should have some idea of ??whether Trudeau will call an election no later than September.
The federal election will have some impact on Canada's immigration. General elements such as the country's immigration levels plan, express entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and other policy elements would not be affected. However, the implementation of new policies and programs, as well as the government's responsiveness to emerging issues, would be limited until the election results were determined.
Things to look for in the rest of 2021
Canada's ability to ease travel restrictions and allow more Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) holders will depend on the success of its vaccination campaign over the coming months. IRCC has said little about CoPRs - these are people overseas who have received a permanent residence permit, but cannot enter Canada at this time unless they fall under an exemption - other than that will not require them to start their application process again and seem eager to welcome them to Canada when the pandemic situation improves.
The first major sign to lift the travel restrictions have been Canada's and the United States decision to open their border restrictions. The United States is ahead of Canada in getting things back to normal, and both countries may allow travel by the summer, according to recent reports. If Canada can do this successfully, then it will be able to lift travel restrictions.
The COVID-19 situation in Canada will also have an impact on the candidates considered for the Express Entry draws. At the onset of the pandemic, Canada only considered applicants from the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). It then reviewed all applicants in the second semester of 2020, including Federal Skilled Worker Program and Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) applicants.
Since the start of this year, it has only retained the CEC and PNP candidates. IRCC reasons that it wants to prioritize the transition of people residing in Canada to permanent residence because they are less affected by COVID-related disruptions. However, IRCC will be able to review FSWP and FSTP applicants once the virus is contained, and as containment of the virus appears increasingly likely, we should expect a return to the Express Entry draws. for all programs during the second semester of 2021.
IRCC's aforementioned rationale is also why it introduced a temporary public policy with six new immigration programs for essential workers and international graduates. The stream of English-speaking international graduates reached its ceiling of 40,000 applications in just over a day. The adoption of the essential components of workers and Francophones was unsurprisingly less, but we can expect an increase in these components in the months to come.
In the meantime, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has openly stated that IRCC is ready to consider lifting the caps on these streams, which would benefit Anglophone international graduates the most. The minister said it will depend on several factors, including the total volume of requests and the quality of requests. There is no doubt that this decision will also be tied to Canada's ability to eventually lift travel restrictions on CoPRs. The longer the restrictions are in place, the more IRCC will consider increasing the caps for these six new programs.
Some of the major things to look out for are Fee Waiver for Canadian citizenship application, Municipal Nominee Program (MNP), Immigration Levels Plan 2022 - 2024, and Parent and Grandparents Program (PGP) 2021.
Mendicino's mandate letter calls for the launch of the MNP and free citizenship applications, but these initiatives have been delayed by the pandemic. IRCC is also due to announce details on the opening of PGP 2021 and has indicated that the program will have the same format as PGP 2020 (an expression of interest window, followed by a lottery). Finally, the announcement of the plan for the next levels should be fairly standard. Canada is going to stick to inviting 400,000 new immigrants per year.
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