Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

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44 www.canadianlawyermag.com LEGAL REPORT IMMIGRATION could have an impact on the future is the question of foreign students. Right now, they are not allowed to come into Canada if there is no in-class program for them to enrol in. And because of the pandemic, virtually all univer- sity education is being done online. The problem, says Greene, is that foreign students in Canada often make the best candi- dates for immigration, because they have the education that Canadian employers respect and the language abilities to make them good future Canadians. "So, what we're doing right now is affecting the pool of future permanent residents and citi- zens that come from the foreign student class," he says. "When immigration opens up again, it will likely be at a time when the United States and other countries will be opening up, too, so the competition will get tougher." consider the skills of overseas applicants that we need in Canada, especially during a pandemic. "I have a Romanian nurse working at the United Nations in Mogadishu who wants to come to Canada," he says. "She is a specialist in immunology and has been working in the health-care sector for 15 years, and she is highly skilled, but under the Manitoba provin- cial nominee program, they don't consider nurses like her. "You would think that, during a pandemic, they would not only be soliciting nurses such as her but fast-tracking these applications." Calgary-based immigration lawyer Michael Greene of Sherritt Greene says one of his concerns when it comes to long-term thinking about immigration of skilled and educated workers from overseas and how the pandemic cations are not an online process. "What they did is have their mailroom scan applications so that officers, most who are still working from home, can access them remotely." But this is not online filing by any means, she says. "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." Caruso says this is just a small example of the need to develop online systems for processing applica- tions for most classes of immigrants. Warda Shazadi Meighen, a partner with Landings LLP, agrees that there has been innovation, with new programs popping up that, for example, help those who are "falling out of status" or who are looking to extend their work or study permits. "There's been flexibility in terms of how those types of appli- cations are proceeding." As well, there have been several targeted programs such as Pathways to Permanent Residence for Pandemic Workers, which allows certain asylum seekers who have worked in health care on the front lines of COVID-19 to apply for permanent residence. This acknowledges the risk that many of these people are taking in working under conditions where they might be exposed to the virus. There's also a pilot program, launched before COVID-19, for workers in certain sectors of the agricultural and food processing industry to come to Canada with the prospect of permanent resident status, a recognition of how important these workers are to the agri- cultural economy. Shazadi Meighen is also concerned that Canada has closed its borders to refugees for the time being and says we should continue to welcome refugees as per Canada's commit- ment under the United Nations Refugee Convention, with proper precautions for COVID-19, in keeping with our country's humanitarian tradition. Winnipeg-based immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says that even programs such as Pathways to Permanent Residence don't "When immigration opens up again, it will likely be when the U.S. and other countries will be opening up too, so the competition will get tougher." Michael Greene, Sherritt Greene PERMANENT RESIDENT IMMIGRATION TO CANADA Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Citizenship Canada 400K 300K 200K 100K 0 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 271,883 296,379 286,479 321,035 341, 180 184,370 Target was 341,000

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