May 15, 2020:
IRCC announced flexibility in post-graduation work permit (PGWP) rules
PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.
Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.
May 13, 2020:
Important BC PNP Update released
An Addendum to the BC PNP Guide was issued and is effective as of May 12, 2020 as a supplement to the BC PNP Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC Program Guide and will be in place until further notice. The Addendum is the official policy at this time over the regular guide wherever there are discrepancies.
It outlines how the BC PNP will consider changes in employment status at each stage of the process: Registrants, Invitees, Applicants and Nominees and how applications may be placed on hold to suspend processing for up to 16 weeks.
One important update for Entry Level Semi Skilled (ELSS) Registrants is that “If you are laid-off, you may count employment before and after your layoff as continuous towards 9 months, so long as the layoff does not exceed 16 weeks and is with the same employer and in an ELSS-eligible position.”
Please read all important changes for Registrants, Invitees, Applicants and Nominees: BC-PNP-Skills-Immigration-and-Express-Entry-BC-Program-Guide_Addendum.pdf
May 12, 2020:
Government announces help for employers to meet their labour needs
Effective immediately, the Government is announcing, a new, temporary policy that will drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job with another employer.
While this policy is in place, a worker who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer, typically backed by a labour market test, can get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. This will cut what can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less.
To be eligible, workers must
- be in Canada with valid status
- have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption
- have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program
The work permit applicant must then submit a request to IRCC. The request will be reviewed within 10 days, and if approved, authorization for the worker to start working in their new job will be sent to them by email. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/05/government-announces-help-for-employers-to-meet-their-labour-needs.html
May 8, 2020:
IRCC update on IEC
Effective May 8, 2020, IEC applicants in the Working Holiday, Young Professional or International Co-op categories can only travel to Canada if they have a valid job offer, and a port of entry letter of introduction. This temporary measure will be in effect until further notice: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/iec.html
May 4, 2020:
CELPIP English Tests
Updates on CELPIP English Tests: https://www.celpip.ca/covid-19-updates/
April 30, 2020:
Update on Travel Restrictions
IRCC published an update on travel restrictions and an interpretation of optional / discretionary and non-optional / non-discretionary travel. Please see important extracts below:
Travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals
Restrictions vary depending on from where the foreign national is departing. However, any COVID-19-symptomatic travellers will not be permitted to enter Canada. Note that regular immigration requirements and admissibility provisions must still to be met for all travel and entry to Canada.
Departing from any country other than the United States
In the air mode, foreign nationals departing from any country other than the United States are prohibited from boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada when
- they are not covered by any of the exemptions in the Orders, or
- they are travelling for an optional and discretionary purpose
Departing from the United States
Foreign nationals departing from the United States are prohibited from entering Canada when
- they are travelling for an optional and discretionary purpose
Regardless of whether the foreign national is departing from the United States or any other country, upon entry, they will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days.
Broad definition of travelling for optional or discretionary purposes
Travel for optional or discretionary purposes is broadly defined in the Orders as including (but not limited to) travel for the purposes of tourism, recreation and entertainment. Some examples of discretionary or optional travel are
- to visit family for a vacation
- for the birth of a grandchild, nephew, niece, cousin, etc. (For the parent of a child, this may be considered non-discretionary travel; however, it will still require assessment.)
- to spend time at a secondary residence (vacation home, hunting or fishing lodge, etc.). This includes entry for upkeep or maintenance purposes.
- to attend the funeral of a family member (This purpose of travel would be improbable due to quarantine measures and limits to the number of attendees at funerals under provincial restrictions.)
April 24, 2020:
Service Canada Notice: Special Compliance Inspections for Employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during COVID-19
Service Canada issues new requirements to employer compliance inspections. Employers have a specific responsibility in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and it remains the employers responsibility to ensure compliance with the conditions attached to the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
Service Canada has the authority under the IRPR to conduct an inspection, with or without prior notice, in order to verify employers compliance with the TFW Program, including within the first fourteen (14) days of the temporary foreign worker’s arrival. Effective immediately, and during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Service Canada Investigators will conduct inspections that will focus on employer compliance with the new IRPR requirements. These inspections will be conducted remotely/virtually, and will look for specific conditions and must be completed within a shortened timeframe.
Please read the full notice: EDCS Special Compliance Inspections for Employers of the TFWP (English/French).pdf
IRCC started to do inside-Canada landings electronically
IRCC has started to do some inside-Canada landings electronically in order to avoid in-person appointments. Some people are receiving email confirmation that they are now PRs, accompanied by instructions on how to apply for their PR cards. https://twitter.com/Twimmigration/status/1253431059816968199?s=20
April 23, 2020:
Removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19
To help battle the COVID-19 outbreak, starting immediately, the government will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.
April 20, 2020:
Clarification on COVID-19 and impacts on IEC participants
Note: Extensions and employer changes are only permitted in certain circumstances. Extensions cannot exceed the maximum duration specified in the bilateral agreement. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/iec.html
April 16, 2020:
Invitation rounds for International Experience Canada (IEC)
Invitation rounds are currently on hold.
IEC work permit applications
Application processing is currently on hold. For those who had already accepted an invitation to apply, IRCC will accept your application but it will not be processed for the time being.
IEC applications in progress will not be closed or refused due to a lack of documentation or inability to complete the application process in time, such as giving biometrics or completing an immigration medical examination.
IEC work permit holders should not come back to Canada unless it is for an essential purpose. If your place of work is closed or you don’t have a job, you will not be permitted entry even if you have a valid work permit or approval letter.
April 11, 2020:
IRCC processing changes for visas due to COVID-19
Canada is suspending processing of non-essential visitor visa applications. Processing of visa and eTA applications for those who qualify for an exemption to the travel restrictions will continue. Study permits and permanent residence applications continue to be processed.
April 6, 2020:
Government update on Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers
New FAQs for Temporary Foreign Worker Program are online. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, and should be used by employers and stakeholders to complement the Guidance to Employers: English – French
April 3, 2020:
IRCC conducts first virtual citizenship ceremony
The IRCC Citizenship team responded to an urgent need to facilitate COVID19 research by coordinating the extraordinary first virtual citizenship ceremony yesterday: https://twitter.com/CitImmCanada
April 2, 2020:
IRCC implements video conference for interviews and hearings
IRCC staff may use video conferences to interview applicants or to hold hearings. For citizenship purposes, video conferencing assists with lengthy waiting times for hearings. Once the appointment for an interview or hearing is scheduled, the contact person will send an invitation or hearing notice to the applicant. If the applicant does not appear or arrives late, the case should be treated as a no-show.
March 31, 2020:
2020 Parents and Grandparents Program delayed
IRCC announced that the opening of the 2020 Parents and Grandparents (PGP) Program will be delayed due to the current focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/parents-grandparents-covid-update.html
Agri-Food Immigration Pilot opening announced
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is scheduled to open on May 15, 2020, and will accept applications until May 14, 2023: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/update-opening-agrifood-immigration-pilot.html
March 30, 2020:
Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers
Employment and Social Development Canada issued a guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers regarding COVID-19 in addition to recent announcements by the Government of Canada to facilitate the entry of foreign workers.
BC PNP Update
The Government of BC still accepts and processes applications for both Entrepreneur and Skills Immigration categories: https://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate-to-B-C/B-C-Provincial-Nominee-Program/COVID-19-Updates
BC PNP issues invitations to apply with some exceptions considering the current economic situation due to COVID-19: https://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate-to-B-C/B-C-Provincial-Nominee-Program/News
March 27, 2020:
Whistler Chamber and Whistler Immigration
The Latest on Immigration Issues and COVID-19: https://www.whistlerchamber.com/the-latest-on-immigration-issues-and-covid-19/
March 26, 2020:
Exemption to Travel Restrictions
The exemption to travel restrictions has been implemented, see details for temporary workers and students: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/service-delivery/coronavirus/travel-restrictions.html#temporary-workers
B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP)
Access to care is a high priority, please see B.C.’s frequently asked questions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/covid-19-msp-qa
March 24, 2020:
Medical Exams on hold
All Upfront Medical Exams globally have been ceased with immediate effect. Those applying for permanent residence through the Express Entry system who have not yet undergone a medical exam will need to submit a letter of explanation with their application describing why they have not completed the medical exam. See IRCC’s information to panel physicians.
LMIA applications can now be submitted via email.
Temporary foreign workers, including Working Holiday Permit Holders, and study permit holders who have been enrolled in MSP are still covered until their permit expiry date, even if they have been laid off. A representative of the BC MSP said discussions are underway to address questions of medical coverage in light of COVID-19. Call the BC MSP directly if you have questions or concerns about your coverage.
BC Action Plan
News release: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0013-000545
BC COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support
March 23, 2020:
IRCC updated their special measures page, including details on travel exemptions:
***Workers, students and approved permanent residents who haven’t landed should not travel yet. Announced exemptions are not in place. Travel restrictions are still in effect for these groups.***
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 16, 2020, but who hadn’t yet traveled to Canada, will be exempt from these restrictions.
Temporary foreign workers might be able to reunite with immediate family members if that person received government approval. Further clarification on this point is still in progress.
Reminder that everyone entering Canada must isolate for 14 days.
March 20, 2020:
Foreign nationals with valid work or study permits will be able to return to Canada shortly
Exemptions to the air and land travel ban are expected early next week. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/03/canada-provides-update-on-exemptions-to-travel-restrictions-to-protect-canadians-and-support-the-economy.html
Employer Specific work permits
If you have sponsored staff for an employer specific work permit please note that it will still be valid until it’s expiry date. There is no requirement to maintain employment but the employer specific work permit only authorizes to work for the employer named on the permit. Workers can remain in Canada and return to work when businesses reopen. There is no need to contact Service Canada to receive permission for reduced hours or layoffs. Assessment of employer compliance measures will take into consideration the impact of COVID-19. Please contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com.
March 19, 2020:
We will attend a Webinar with IRCC on March 20 about Immigration and COVID-19. We will update our social channels and website with more information afterwards.
COVID-19 Guidance and Resources for Whistler Businesses: https://www.whistlerchamber.com/covid-19-guidance-and-resources-for-whistler-businesses/
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
More details about financial support: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
March 18, 2020:
Prime Minister announces more support for workers and businesses
The Government of Canada is taking action to support workers and their families as well as businesses:
Canada and U.S. are closing border to non-essential traffic
Canada and the United States have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across the border, as both countries try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Trade will not be affected: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-us-border-deal-1.5501289
March 17, 2020:
BC PNP operations update
An update on BC PNP operational procedures has been published and can be found here:
Employment Insurance (EI) eligibility and impact of unemployment
Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits and the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined. Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim: 1-833-381-2725
Further information: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
BC PNP and IRCC
We currently do not have guidance from the government about the BC PNP on whether an inability to continue working full-time for your employer will affect your nomination. But IRCC’s implemented special measures (same link as published March 16) as response to this situation have been reasonableness and understanding so far. For example, IRCC will not be refusing applications due to an inability to complete required steps such as medical exam, police clearances or biometrics and extend deadlines to 90 days.
We will keep monitoring and updating our clients, website and social media accordingly.
March 16, 2020:
As of March 18, Canada closes the borders to anyone who is not Canadian citizens or permanent resident, with limited exceptions to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you are travelling out of Canada as temporary resident you are not able to travel back. For people who wanting to travel to Canada and activate their temporary resident status such as temporary workers or international students this might not be possible at this point.
IRCC special measures
IRCC has implemented special measures for this situation. Please find details here:
Service Canada centres
Some Service Canada centres are closing and therefore biometric appointments are being cancelled, but IRCC’s special measures extend the deadline to 90 days.
Whistler Immigration will be working normally and with no interruption for our clients. But we have shifted to remote work and will be holding all consultations by remote video conference. This is to ensure we are acting in the best interest of and taking measures to protect the health of our staff, clients and the community. Rest assured, the quality of the consultation will not be compromised; we work with clients all over the world and have implemented systems and procedures that allow us to work efficiently and effectively with clients regardless of geographic location to ensure we deliver a highly valuable service.
We are experiencing a very high volume of messages through all channels. If you cannot reach us by phone, please leave a voice message and/or send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Please keep updated on Immigration news on this web page and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
March 15, 2020:
We care about our clients and employees and are following official recommendations to protect the health and safety of our clients and staff.
Vancouver Coastal Health advises, to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is, to wash your hands often and if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms, stay home and limit contact with people who appear to be ill.
Whistler Immigration asks that anyone exhibiting flu symptoms (fever, cough) please advise us, so we can reschedule your consultation or arrange a remote consultation. Remote consultations provide the exact same value to clients than consultations held in the office and are already very popular for anyone not based in Whistler.
Canada’s official COVID-19 response
For official information about Canada’s COVID-19 response, please see the following external links: