Here are Canadian alternatives to U.S. immigration ban

Kareem El-Assal
Published: June 23, 2020

Following the signing of a new Executive Order by President Donald Trump yesterday, an estimated 525,000 individuals will not be able to move to the U.S. as permanent or temporary residents for the rest of 2020.

Trump’s new immigration ban is meant to be a temporary measure to protect U.S. workers during the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this temporary measure will create significant uncertainty for employers in the U.S. as well as those who were planning on working in America.

Canada’s immigration system is also going through a period of uncertainty in the sense that the country currently has travel restrictions and special immigration measures in place which it is constantly modifying as the pandemic unfolds.

Despite the uncertainty in Canada, however, employers and workers can be certain that Canada will process new applications submitted during the pandemic and will facilitate the entry of new permanent and temporary residents as long as eligibility criteria are met.

Currently, some new permanent residents are exempt from Canada’s travel restrictions. The country is also issuing new permanent residence invitations to successful immigration applicants.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

Meanwhile, temporary foreign workers are largely exempt from Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions and remain able to enter Canada, including from the U.S.

In a television interview today, Canada's immigration minister Marco Mendicino stressed that Canada believes immigration will help to strengthen its economy after the pandemic.

About Trump’s new Executive Order

Until the end of 2020, the U.S. will not issue new green cards (or permanent resident status) to immigration applicants outside of the country.

Moreover, it is also suspending various employment-based visas until the end of the year.

These include the following visas:

  • H-1B: Occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge
  • H-2B: Seasonal non-agricultural workers
  • J: Work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs
  • L: Intra-company transfers

Canadian immigration alternatives

While Canada and the U.S. are both federal countries, Canadian provinces have more immigration authority than U.S. states.

Upon Canada’s founding in 1867, the Constitution outlined immigration as a matter of shared federal and provincial jurisdiction, with the federal government having the final say.

In practice, this means that both the federal government and 12 out of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories operate their own selection programs for economic class immigrants.

Today, Canada offers over 80 economic class immigration pathways to skilled workers in the U.S. and around the world.

The most prominent pathway is the federal Express Entry system. Interested candidates can submit their profile for free on the federal government’s website. The federal government then scores them based on the likes of their age, education, English and/or French skills, work experience, among other factors.

Every two weeks, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government holds Express Entry draws in which it invites the highest-scoring immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence. After submitting their permanent residence application, successful candidates can expect to get their application processed within 6 months.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

The second most prominent permanent residence pathway is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Nearly every province and territory operates the PNP to welcome skilled workers that meet their local labour market needs. Candidates can submit their applications directly to the province they are interested in. They can also submit an Express Entry profile to give provinces the opportunity to review their credentials and contact them directly about immigrating to their jurisdiction.

Quebec is the third major option. It operates various programs similar to those offered by the federal government and other provinces. Speaking French is key to successfully immigrating to Quebec.

Both the PNP and Quebec’s immigration system continue to operate during the pandemic. PNP draws occur on a weekly basis.

Temporary resident options for employers and workers

Canada’s temporary resident options for employers and workers are as diverse as the country’s permanent resident choices.

Whether you are looking for highly specialized worker options, entertainment and film options, or to conduct an intra-company transfer, there are various choices that are available to you in Canada.

Each option has its own eligibility criteria, but there are generally two major pathways available.

The first major pathway is through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The TFWP exists to help employers in Canada hire workers when Canadians are not available to do the job. It requires a labour market test called the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employers need to demonstrate to the Canadian government through the LMIA that hiring a foreign worker will not hurt Canadian workers.

The second, and larger pathway is called the International Mobility Program (IMP). It exists to promote Canada’s broader economic and social goals, and many skilled worker choices are available since they are in Canada’s economic interests. For example, many skilled workers are able to work in Canada without an LMIA due to free trade agreements that Canada has with the likes of the U.S., and many other industrialized countries. LMIAs are not required under IMP streams and hence, it is much easier for employers and workers to pursue IMP options.

Processing times vary per option, but they can be very quick. Canada’s Global Talent Stream does not require an LMIA and allows employers in Canada to hire tech workers within 10 days.

Under Canada’s current travel laws, temporary workers may continue to enter the country so long as the purpose of their travel is non-optional. For instance, entering Canada to pursue an existing job opportunity falls within the definition of non-optional travel.

Need assistance with a temporary visa application process? Contact

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