Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Marco Mendicino spoke for over an hour today with members of the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section to clarify recent changes in immigration policy and procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Mendicino emphasized that government policy in managing the pandemic continues to be in a state of evolution as the impact of the pandemic changes. In a question and answer period with CBA Immigration Section Chair Ravi Jain, the Minister also made the following points:
The Minister began by reaffirming Canada’s commitment to previously announced annual immigration levels, making the point that through previous pandemics and economic challenges Canada continued to grow through immigration. He stated that immigration will be a key driver in Canada’s recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic,
Mr. Mendicino stated that the pandemic is providing the immigration department with an opportunity to innovate in immigration processing, and that while processing of applications continues, there is also an ongoing review of service delivery through electronic processing,
The Minister reaffirmed a commitment to the parental sponsorship program, stating that while the announcement of the 2020 parental sponsorship program launched has been delayed by the pandemic, details of the program would be released soon,
Canadian sponsors would not be disqualified or penalized by receiving the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), according to the Minister,
Mr. Mendicino said that work permits from applicants destined to work in critical industries such as food processing and health care would be prioritized,
Minister Mendicino stated that the government has and will continue to alleviate the situation of students affected by the pandemic, such as increasing the amount of hours they are permitted to work.
While the conversation didn’t get into specific details, it was an opportunity for immigration lawyers to raise their questions and concerns directly with the Minister. Ongoing discussion is also taking place with the department and members of the executive of the CBA Immigration Section during biweekly calls.