COVID-19 causing delays for immigration applicants to Canada

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OTTAWA – Those looking to immigrate to Canada should be prepared for significant delays, says a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, citing pandemic hurdles that are causing a backlog of applications. Chantal Desloges told CTV Your Morning on Monday that it was difficult to inform clients of the treatment schedule due to the unpredictability of COVID-19.

“Before COVID-19 it would take you about a year if you applied for citizenship, now with these delays I would say if you budgeted between a year and two years it would probably be more specific,” she said . “Especially for people like refugees, many of whom are separated from their families awaiting a hearing, this kind of backlog is absolutely devastating for them. ”

The government’s Immigration and Citizenship website says it still accepts most applications for permanent residence, but its ability to “review and process them” is affected by COVID-19. While the government says it cannot estimate processing times, it is prioritizing returnees, vulnerable groups and people who provide or support essential services.

In a statement to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said that while delays are inevitable, the department is working to modernize the system to minimize disruption.

“The ministry began hosting virtual citizenship ceremonies on April 1, starting with individuals and families whose citizenship ceremony had been canceled and who needed citizenship for urgent reasons, such as employment,” Kevin Lemkay said.

Desloges said this ingenious thought is a welcome change for his clients.

“You see immigration, a very large bureaucracy, which historically has been a bit resistant to change, starting to do some very innovative things like holding citizenship ceremonies on Zoom for example, which a year ago, if you asked me, would they ever do it, I would have said “absolutely not”. ”

The Refugee Protection Division – the tribunal’s arm of the Commission – posted on its website that it resumed in-person hearings during the week of August 3. The Immigration Section will resume its processes in person on September 14 and will continue with the video conference until then.

Desloges also predicts that the movement is here to stay.

« [It] is a great stopover. I could never understand why it was necessary to meet certain people in person when you know it is a big inconvenience for many people to attend an immigration interview in person. So I think you’ll see this continue, ”she said.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on Friday announced a temporary measure to offer permanent residence to asylum seekers working in the health care sector in Canada during the pandemic.

To apply for residency now, they must have applied for asylum in Canada by March 13 and have spent at least 120 hours working as a care attendant, nurse or other designated profession between the date of their application and August 14. .

Applicants must also demonstrate that they have six months of experience in the profession before they can receive permanent residency and have until the end of August 2021 to meet this requirement.

“The government recognizes the extraordinary contribution of asylum seekers working in the health care sector in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in long-term care facilities. Given that these individuals face an uncertain future in Canada, the current circumstances deserve exceptional measures in recognition of their service during the pandemic, ”the ministry press release read.

Speaking of all applicants, Lemkay said “no application will be closed or refused” for failing to meet documentation requirements or for being unable to complete the application process within the usual time frame.

With a file from the Canadian Press.

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