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Immigration Update

With the benefit of hindsight, Canada relaxes restrictions on international students

When COVID-19 was first declared a global pandemic, the Canadian government immediately introduced very strict restrictions on travel to Canada. Almost all travellers were prohibited from entering Canada under these restrictions unless they qualified for a small number of narrow exemptions. At the time, little was known about the virus, how to effectively slow its spread, and the economic and social repercussions it would eventually bring about.

As Canada enters the second wave of this pandemic, policy makers can now benefit from an understanding of best practices to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, but more importantly they also have been witness to the profound personal tragedies that previous restrictions have caused. While the spread of the virus may have been minimized, it came at a tremendous societal cost. One of such concerns is that students were unable to commence or continue their studies in Canada.

On October 20, 2020 a policy came into effect to facilitate the entry of international students if they will be attending an educational institution with a COVID?19 readiness plan in place that has been approved by their provincial or territorial government. This policy recognizes that with proper preventative measures, the spread of COVID-19 can be controlled. It is also an acknowledgement that different responses to the virus may be necessary in each province and territory. Secondary and post-secondary schools have already started being notified of the approval of their COVID-19 readiness plans, and a full list of approved schools as well as specific procedures associated with this policy have been made available.

The Canadian government’s top priority continues to be protecting the health and safety of its population, but this must also be balanced against the adverse impacts that pandemic restrictions are having on affected individuals. The new measures IRCC has put in place recognize that the entry of foreign nationals to Canada can still be safe and beneficial to the country, so long as proper preventative measures are proactively taken.

Express Entry Update: Additional Points Awarded under Express Entry for French-Speaking Candidates

On October 27th, 2020, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System Scoring. These changes will award additional points to French-speaking and bilingual candidates.

Previously, candidates who could demonstrate moderate/high (NCLC level 7) proficiency in French and moderate (CLB level 5) proficiency in English were awarded 30 additional points. This has now increased to 50 additional points. Candidates who can demonstrate moderate/high (NCLC level 7) proficiency in French and moderate/low (CLB level 4) proficiency in English previously received 15 additional points. This has now increased to 25 additional points.

IRCC has committed to increasing the percentage of new French-speaking immigrants intending to settle outside of Quebec. In 2019, the percentage of French-speaking immigrants admitted to Canada outside of Quebec was 2.82%. IRCC has committed to increasing this to 4.4% by 2023. By awarding additional points to French-speaking candidates under the Express Entry system, the Canadian government seeks to attract more French-speaking immigrants to Canada.