Study Permits, Temporary & Permanent Residence Applications, Youth & Student Travel.
Express Entry Draws Limited to PNP and CEC in Response to COVID-19
Are there any Covid-19 exemptions granted by the Canadian Government‘s during the current pandemic? The coronavirus has changed the world as we know it, as the virus continues to spread and affect populations around the world, travel has been adversely affected with governments around the globe struggling to come to terms with the pandemic and its effects on life as we know it today.
Are There any Covid-19 Exemptions
Like all governments around the world, the Canadian Government has put in place travel restrictions to limit the number of foreign nationals who enter their country, in order to stem the spread of the virus.
While restrictions to travel have been widely acknowledged in several quarters globally, there are several exemptions to the travel restrictions imposed by the Federal Government of Canada via the Prime Minister’s Office. The Covid-19 exemptions are limited to essential services to the Canadian economy, as well as some immediate family members of Canadian permanent residents and citizens.
The definition of immediate family members has been expanded in the new guidelines to include spouses or common-law partners, dependent children, dependent children of dependent children, parents or step-parents, and guardians or tutors. The crux of which means that despite restrictions in travel some of the individuals in the expanded definition are allowed to come to Canada. However, even though they are allowed to travel to Canada, they must still have the proper authorization to do so in terms of visas or permits.
The news of the expanded definition has brought a lot of confusion among certain segments of the immigrant communities and also among the Kenyan community in Canada. Based on the letter of the order issuing the restrictions and setting out the exemptions, some Kenyans in Canada believed that there would now be a facilitated manner through which immediate family members may enter Canada to be with their loved ones.
Covid-19 Exemptions: Since COVID-19 became a public health crisis in Canada, Express Entry draws have only extended ITA‘s to candidates from either Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) because most CEC candidates are already in Canada (and therefore, do not require entry screening or quarantining). Meanwhile, PNPs are continuing in order to allow the provinces to meet their quotas.
Covid-19 Exemptions: Relaxation of Rules on Family Sponsorship
The thought process behind this is that the Canadian immigration authorities recognized the grave situation the pandemic has caused around the world and thought it appropriate to allow immediate family members to be together during this crisis. Based on this, some individuals who had prior difficulty in getting a visa, or who had been refused entry or who had been previously inadmissible thought that this was a window they could exploit to gain legal entry to Canada.
Unfortunately this is not the case. The exemptions to the travel restrictions do not give any additional rights of entry upon the individuals subject to the exemption.
The expansion of definition concerning persons who have been denied temporary visas still applies with the initial reasons of denial. Most if not all of these reasons of denial would be forestalled if one had done an assessment that would be checked against a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Thus any foreign national who has weak home ties to his or her country, or has had issues with immigration in the past with respect to Canada or another country, may still be denied on the basis that the applicant will not leave Canada at the end of their stay. For such individuals, it is important to address these elements in the proper way, so as to alleviate concerns that could lead an immigration officer to refuse an application. Or even engage an immigration consultant or lawyer who would help them to navigate these minefields.
Regarding persons who have criminal convictions in the past, there has been no easing with respect to the rules pertaining to inadmissibility. If less than five years have passed since the completion of a sentence whether inside or outside Kenya the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) application must be submitted and approved prior to coming to Canada for a person intending to travel to Canada. If more than five years have passed the person is eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation where it would be wise for one to engage an immigration consultant or lawyer who would help in making the application that must be pursued in order to resolve the inadmissibility permanently. The same criteria that was taken into account for these applications before the corona virus pandemic are still taken into account now with the new rules. There has been no change in this respect and the same elements are considered in the assessment of these applications.
This means that even in situations where a person has only one non-serious conviction and over 10 years have passed, rendering them eligible for deemed rehabilitation, there can be issues with inadmissibility. A letter with legal opinion explaining the situation is still recommended in such scenarios in order to avoid an issue. The same confusion as to inadmissibility can arise and the situation should be clarified in the same manner.
Covid-19 Exemptions: Students in Particular Fields Now Allowed to Work Full-time
While it may not be deemed as a Covid-19 exemption per se, one of the most significant concessions that have been made under the Covid directives is one that allows Study Permit holders to work full time if they are employed in an essential service. This strips away the 20-hour-work-week rule which International students in Canada for those already working in essential service jobs. This exemption means that frontline workers in health care, those who are working in industries that are considered to be critical in ensuring the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of Canadians and the delivery of government and other essential services such as the delivery of critical goods and services can now work full time because they are already positioned to help meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Covid-19 Exemptions: Redefining What “Essential Services Are
With travel restrictions still in place, the need to clarify what should be considered “essential” was important so as to determine who may be allowed to travel into the country. The same refined definition of what is “essential” was also applied in determining those industries where those with Study Permits would be allowed to work beyond the 20-hour rule. International students working in the sectors of energy and utilities, information and communication technologies, finance, health, food, water, transportation, safety, government and manufacturing are now entitled to work full time. This is a critical variation of the terms of the Study Permit.
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