The Canadian government had to impose travel restrictions and lockdowns in mid-March 2020 to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Since then the government body of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) has tried to keep its operations running at the federal and provincial level
Canadian provinces and territories have had to adjust their immigration programs to continue the process of accepting new immigrants. This was done to reach the target set in the Canadian Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023.
Each province and territory has its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), they have remained operational all throughout the lockdown and are recovering in 2021. PNPs are specialized immigration programs offered by each province and territory (with the exception of Nunavut and Quebec Immigration) to nominate eligible candidates with the required skills and experience in the local labor markets.
The PNPs continued to process applicants and issue provincial nominations amid service closures and travel restrictions in 2020. PNPs were supported by the federal government by conducting Express Entry draws to solely invite provincial applicants.
Canada has set the target to invite at least 80,000 applicants through PNPs per year according to the Canadian Immigration Levels Plan 2021-23. However, PNPs have had to make some changes in their immigration processes to keep up their operations.
What Changes Are Imposed by Canadian Provinces and Territories Because of the Covid-19?
To keep its operations going, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) is still conducting immigration draws every week. However, the draws are ignoring sectors that were majorly affected by the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
This includes sectors like tourism, hospitality, retail and personal services. There is a list of 31 occupations excluded from the immigration draws which includes occupations such as chefs, massage therapists, travel counselors, etc. Since PNPs have the main goal of filling shortages in the local labor market, these occupations will be reintroduced once their sector recovers.
The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is still accepting applications for provincial nominations. However, the federal government is not processing Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications for 27 occupations in Alberta. These occupations include computer engineers, physicians, graphic designers, etc. People under these occupations can apply for an LMIA if they were approved under the Global Talent Stream (GTS).
International graduates with a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) who applied for the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS) on or after November 1, 2020, are eligible for provincial nomination if they are not working in an exempt occupation. However, it is still possible for applicants in exempt occupations to apply for provincial nomination through the Alberta Express Entry stream.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) has started allowing applicants to request a 6-month extension to apply for permanent residency after receiving provincial nomination due to the Covid-19 virus. Applicants can still get a conditional nomination if their terms of employment have changed due to the pandemic.
It is possible that an applicant may no longer need to meet the eligibility criteria for terms of employment but still receive a conditional nomination. However, they will be required to meet the terms of employment to receive permanent residency.