The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes, including in the realm of immigration. For skilled workers and businesses, navigating the new challenges and uncertainties posed by the pandemic has been difficult.
But what exactly has been the impact of COVID-19 on immigration to Canada, and how has the Canadian government adapted to these changes?
In this article, we delve into these questions and examine the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian immigration for skilled workers and businesses, as well as the efforts made by the Canadian government to adapt to the situation.
Effects of COVID-19 on Skilled Workers
Skilled worker immigration has been one of the pillars of Canada’s immigration system for many years. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted skilled worker immigration, both positively and negatively. Take a peek at some of those!
Immigration Processing Delays
One of the most significant impacts has been the slow-down processing times for immigration applications. According to data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), processing times have increased significantly due to the pandemic, with some applications taking several months to process.
This has created a great deal of uncertainty and frustration for many skilled workers who are waiting to immigrate to Canada.
Program Eligibility Changes
The eligibility criteria for several skilled worker immigration programs in Canada were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
Federal Skilled Worker Program: The minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score required for an invitation to apply for permanent residency was temporarily lowered in response to the pandemic.
Canadian Experience Class: Changes were made to the program to accommodate the impact of COVID-19 on work experience and language testing, including the temporary acceptance of online language tests.
Provincial Nominee Program: Some provinces and territories temporarily suspended or modified their nomination programs in response to the pandemic.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot: The pilot program temporarily adjusted its eligibility criteria in response to the pandemic, including changes to the requirements for job offers and the availability of language testing.
Quebec Skilled Worker Program: The program temporarily suspended the selection of new applications in response to the pandemic and later resumed with modified eligibility criteria.
Impacted Temporary Foreign Workers
The pandemic has also significantly impacted temporary foreign workers in Canada. The pandemic has decreased the number of skilled workers able to immigrate to Canada due to travel restrictions and reduced economic activity.
The country’s economy was heavily influenced, leading to job losses and concentrated working hours, especially in the tourism, hospitality, and retail sectors. Conference Board of Canada analyzes that the decline in immigration to Canada resulted in a loss of up to $16 billion in economic activity.
Many workers have been unable to return home due to travel restrictions and border closures.
Skilled workers in essential services, such as healthcare and construction, were in high demand and faced increased workloads, but those in non-essential services faced uncertainty and instability.
Besides, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work and digital technologies, leading to a greater demand for workers with digital skills and creating new job opportunities in industries such as technology, e-commerce, and telemedicine.
Additionally, some employers have had to lay off or reduce the hours of temporary foreign workers due to the economic impact of the pandemic. This has created a difficult situation for these workers, who may struggle to support themselves and their families.
Effects of COVID-19 on Canadian Businesses
Business immigration is also an essential part of Canada’s immigration system, and the pandemic has significantly impacted this area also.
Challenges In Sponsoring Foreign Workers
One of the biggest challenges businesses face is sponsoring foreign workers. With border closures and travel restrictions in place, many businesses need help to bring in the workers they need to continue operating.
This has created a great deal of uncertainty for many companies and has also harmed the Canadian economy.
Decrease In International Business Travel
Another impact of the pandemic on business immigration has been the decrease in international business travel.
With many countries still imposing travel restrictions, it has become much more difficult for businesses to conduct international trade and build relationships with foreign partners. Many companies have suffered, and the overall economy has slowed down due to the pandemic.
Impact On Start-Up Visas For Entrepreneurs
The pandemic has also impacted the start-up visa program for entrepreneurs. This program allows entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada and start their businesses.
However, the pandemic has made it more difficult for entrepreneurs to secure the necessary funding and support to launch their businesses. Because of this, it is more challenging for entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada through the start-up visa program.
Adaptations and Initiatives by the Canadian Government
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has implemented several adaptations and initiatives to support skilled workers and business immigration. Some of these include:
Virtual Processing: The implementation of virtual processing has allowed the Canadian immigration department (IRCC) to continue processing immigration applications, even while their offices are closed. This has helped to minimize the delays in processing times and has allowed skilled workers and businesses to continue their immigration journey to Canada.
Essential Worker Streams: The Canadian government has launched new immigration streams for virtual workers to support businesses critical to the economy and need to bring in workers to continue operations.
Extension of Validity for Immigration Documents: To minimize the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Canadian government has extended the validity of immigration documents for skilled workers and businesses. This has allowed them to continue their immigration process even if their physical documents have expired.
Prioritization of Pending Applications: The Canadian government has prioritized processing pending immigration applications for essential workers and businesses to ensure they can continue their operations.
Temporary Changes to Eligibility Requirements: To accommodate the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Canadian government has made quick changes to eligibility requirements for some immigration programs, allowing more skilled workers and businesses to apply.
The world has changed. The global economy is forever altered. The impact of COVID-19 on skilled workers and business immigration will not be as severe as it was in the past, but it is still significant.
However, with the right policies, immigration can continue to benefit Canada’s economy, skilled workforce, and businesses.
We hope this article has helped you to know the impact COVID-19 has had on skilled worker immigration and business immigration. However, we’re working hard to make sure that the application process is simple so that we can get you through the system as quickly as possible.
We’d love to hear how COVID-19 has impacted your life and how we can help you through this difficult time. Please feel free to contact us or book a zoom call meeting if you need any assistance with the process.