Canadian immigration: Politician calls for action on approved permanent residents

“There does not appear to be a health justification” for the current travel restrictions imposed on COPR holders, says federal MP Christine Normandin.

A Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) is calling on the federal government to address the plight of foreign nationals with COPRs who cannot enter Canada.

In a letter to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Christine Normandin, Bloc Québécois immigration critic, expresses concern over the difficult situation faced by recently approved applicants for permanent residence who are not exempt from travel restrictions and the future processing of their files.

The Bloc Québécois is one of the federal parties with elected officials in Canada’s Parliament. Each party appoints MPs to critique the policies of the governing party.

As previously reported by CIC News, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is leaving thousands of new permanent residents already selected by Canada in limbo, particularly those in the economic class.

Learn about Canada’s immigration system

These are individuals who have gone through the entire permanent residence process, have been approved by the IRCC and therefore hold a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). The approval process includes passing medical exams, as well as federal security and safety checks. Under normal circumstances, these individuals would enter Canada and officially become permanent residents.

Current travel restrictions, however, do not allow foreign nationals with COPRs to enter the country if their documents were issued after the Canadian border closed on March 18, unless they are exempt under other circumstances, or are residents of the U.S.

In her letter, Normandin states that this situation is unjustified: “There does not appear to be any health justification for this, especially since COPR holders have long expressed their intention to comply with all quarantine measures put in place upon their arrival.”

While permanent residents going through the family reunification and sponsorship process are exempt from travel restrictions, there is no exemption for skilled workers and immigrant investors who hold COPRs so many are currently stuck in their country of origins and living in limbo.

“Many fear the expiration of their COPRs and the need to start the process all over again, with the costs of medical examinations and criminal background checks that this entails, which can be costly, especially for a family,” writes Normandin, in her letter, referring to the fact that no clear plan has yet been put forward by the Canadian government to deal with the situation.

In several recent statements, IRCC has indicated that recently approved applicants will eventually be able to come to Canada, but only when travel restrictions are lifted. The government has also stated that these individuals will not have to go through the application process again if their documents expire while they are waiting for the borders to open.

An “untenable situation for the department”

But, according to Normandin’s letter, this could create an “untenable situation for the department.”

“Unless the restrictions for COPR holders begin to be lifted soon, we understand that with the existing admission thresholds, it will be difficult to make up for the lost time when the borders finally open, resulting in delays in the admission of files that are still pending,” she writes.

“We are also concerned that this will place an additional burden on immigration officers if, while waiting for the restrictions to be lifted, applicants are required to undergo repeat medical examinations and criminal background checks, which officers will then have to reassess.”

To remedy the situation Normandin proposes that all those whose COPRs were issued after March 18, 2020, be exempt from travel restrictions to Canada and that the validity of all COPRs be extended by 12 months from their expiry date.

“The COPR holders for whom we are requesting a lifting of the restrictions are mainly skilled workers and immigrant investors who will be called upon to participate in the economic recovery through their contribution of labour, through job creation in the case of immigrant investors, and through the expenses that will be made for their settlement in the country,” said Normandin.

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