published on 8 July 2020 @ 7:30 pm · COMMENT
We are pleased to announce that the government has once again resumed the pre-pandemic Express Entry draws for international permanent residence applicants. This is welcomed news for overseas and US-based applicants that have been in the permanent residence pool since March 2020 and have not had an opportunity to apply for permanent residence to Canada.
Today, July 8th 2020, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued a new round of invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system. For the first time since March 2020, Federal Skilled Worker candidates were also included in the draw.
Today’s draw invited candidates who qualify under all three Express Entry categories: the Canadian Experience Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Federal Skilled Worker Class. A total of 3,900 candidates were invited to apply in today’s draw. The minimum score selected was 478.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, IRCC excluded Federal Skilled Worker candidates from selection in the Express Entry draws as of March 4th 2020. Given that draws for this program category now have resumed, we expect the minimum scores selected to return to approximately the levels they were at prior to March 2020 in the range of 460-470 after a few draws.
CUSMA Replaces NAFTA
After twenty-six and a half years, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was retired. It has now officially been replaced by its new counterpart, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
Originally advertised as a complete overhaul of NAFTA, the shift to the CUSMA will not have a significant impact on most industries. Companies involved in automobile manufacturing, agriculture and dairy farming, and pharmaceuticals will see some changes. The agreement includes strengthened environmental protections and enforcement of labour rules. New rules have been introduced for intellectual property, dispute resolution, currency levels, and digital trade. The CUSMA also has an expiry date of sixteen years, and the deal is subject to review every six years.
From an immigration perspective, the status quo has been maintained. For better or worse, the CUSMA contains the same provisions for business visitors, professionals (including the same list of occupations), intra-company transferees, and traders and investors as its predecessor. Applicants are expected to meet the same criteria for each category as under NAFTA, and can expect applications to be adjudicated in the same manner. IRCC’s policy has been updated to provide minor clarifications and to update references from sections of the NAFTA to the equivalent sections under the CUSMA.
Government of Canada Extends Travel Restrictions for Non-US Travelers and Mandatory Quarantine Rules
As of July 29, 2020, the Government of Canada has officially extended the travel ban that prohibits most foreign nationals (i.e. non-Canadian citizens and permanent residents) from traveling to Canada for at least another month. The restriction on travel from all countries, other than the United States, has been extended until at least July 31, 2020, with some limited exemptions still in place for immediate family members and essential service workers.
Separately, the Government of Canada has also extended the Mandatory Isolation Order, which mandates that all travelers entering Canada, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, must quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. While there are also some narrow exemptions for certain essential workers, the Mandatory Isolation Order requires all asymptomatic travelers entering Canada to quarantine in a place where they will not be in contact with vulnerable populations and where they will have access to the necessities of life, such as food and medicine. The Mandatory Isolation Order has been extended until at least August 31, 2020.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, it remains to be seen whether these restrictions will be extended beyond current expiry dates.