Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 43 of 51

42 LEGAL REPORT FOR AT least some would-be immigrants to Canada, there was a bit of good news announced in mid-February. The federal government said that it sent invitations to 27,300 candidates to apply for permanent resident status under the Canadian Experience Class category, giving them 90 days to apply. They have at least one year of Canadian work experience and are already in Canada, and they are unaffected by current travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. They don't face the same barriers as overseas applicants when gathering the required documentation and undergoing criminality and medical screening. Immigration lawyers who have been helping hopeful candidates find a pathway to residency and eventual citizenship say these invitations are an important step in acknowledging the benefit these workers bring to Canada. But many also say it doesn't go nearly far enough to meeting Canada's ambitious immigration targets over the next few years. "Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has talked about wanting to increase immi- gration, but how do you reconcile that with what we aren't doing now to make it easier for would-be immigrants to come to Canada?" says Mario Bellissimo of Bellissimo Law Group. "We need immigrants now and will IMMIGRATION The path to Canadian immigration has gotten a bit bumpy The pandemic is throwing up roadblocks to meeting Canada's ambitious targets for new Canadians, immigration lawyers say need immigrants in the future, and we need to get more creative on how to get them here, even during a pandemic. "This is one of those times in history where the Canadian government is really going to have to decide very quickly what role immigra- tion is going to play in the economy, or you risk the potential for damage for years and years." While there are clear benefits to transi- tioning temporary residents already here in Canada, especially during a pandemic, Evan Green, a partner with Green and Spiegel in Toronto, says the federal government should not be excluding those skilled workers and other immigration candidates who are living overseas, many of whom have already been granted status to come to Canada. "There has been some movement on processing people already in Canada, but most of those outside the country already approved are not being allowed to come in," he says. "This is very frustrating to them and something they can't quite understand. Sure, we need to have checks on people travelling to Canada and we have a process for quarantine, so why not let them come to Canada if they are good to go?" With an ageing population and low birth rate, immigration is seen as a means of stim- ulating the Canadian economy and encour- aging prosperity across the country, especially in a post-pandemic economy. Currently, with only "essential" overseas workers now able to come to Canada, Green says immigration will "Scanning documents is simply helping address the backlog created by the slowdown in processing due to COVID-19, but it is a temporary fix at best." Barbara Jo Caruso, Corporate Immigration Law Firm

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