Back to top


Immigration Update

New Testing and Quarantine Rules for Entry to Canada

The Canadian government has announced a new COVID-19 test requirement for entry at land border crossings. Travelers entering at a land border must present evidence of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to arrival at the port of entry.

Currently, all international flights entering Canada will be routed to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal airports. All flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries have been suspended until April 30, 2021.

All non-essential air travelers will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival and reserve a three-night hotel stay at a Government of Canada-approved hotel, where they must remain until they receive their negative test result.

In addition to proof of a negative pre-departure test, Transport Canada has restricted international commercial passenger flights to four Canadian airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

Effective February 22, 2021 air travelers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions, must reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost. The three nights do not replace the fourteen-day mandatory quarantine, but rather counts towards the total quarantine period. These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers including the requirement to submit travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.

Unprecedented Express Entry Draw Invites 27,332 Canadian Experience Class Candidates to Apply

On February 10th and February 13th 2021, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued two new rounds of invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system.

The February 13th 2021 draw was the largest Express Entry draw we have seen to date. 27,332 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class. The number of candidates invited to apply is unprecedented, as previous draws typically invited approximately 3000 to 5000 candidates per draw. Given the number of candidates invited, the cut off score for selection was very low at 75. This draw was limited to Canadian Experience Class candidates only, that is candidates who have completed at least one year of full-time skilled work in Canada.

The February 10th 2021 draw invited candidates who qualify for selection under the Provincial Nominee Class. To apply under the Provincial Nominee Class, candidates must have received a nomination certificate from a Canadian province or territory. The minimum score selected was 720, and 654 candidates were invited to apply.

The stated purpose of the February 13th Canadian Experience Class draw was to help skilled workers stay in Canada and bolster economic recovery. IRCC indicates that approximately 90% of candidates who qualify under the Canadian Experience Class are already living in Canada. As such, they are unaffected by the current COVID-19 travel restrictions and can be landed as permanent residents within Canada.

This week’s Canadian Experience Class draw is a welcome development for candidates with skilled Canadian work experience, and an encouraging sign that IRCC remains committed to welcoming an increased number of new permanent residents in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, inviting so many candidates at one time may have unintended negative ramifications. Processing capacity is a concern, as many applicants are already experiencing long processing times for permanent residence applications submitted in the 2020 year. The focus on only the Canadian Experience Class also neglects candidates under the Federal Skilled Trades or Federal Skilled Worker category who may also be living in Canada. Finally, in the event that IRCC increases the size but decreases the frequency of draws, it could be more difficult for candidates to assess their likelihood of success and timeline for selection due to the unpredictability of the draws.