Extend temporary COVID measures

  • April 26, 2022

The Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association believes temporary projects and processes put in place in the early months of the pandemic for temporary residents should be extended. That’s the gist of a letter sent to the Director of Temporary Resident Program Delivery at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

At issue are two programs: The Temporary Public Policy established on August 24, 2020 and the Temporary Pilot Project put in place on October 1, 2020. The CBA Section believes both should be extended to August 28, 2022.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA, allows the Minister to grant exemptions from certain legislative or regulatory requirements if there are sufficient public policy considerations present. In the first few months of the pandemic, the Minister made some changes including allowing foreign nationals in Canada with a letter of introduction on approval of a study or work permit application submitted outside Canada to finalize the permit application from within Canada. This temporary measure was extended twice already.

Another change was to allow certain visitors to Canada to apply inland for an employer-specific work permit.

“Both mechanisms significantly reduced the level of flagpoling at Canadian ports of entry,” the Section explains, “as it was no longer necessary to exit and re-enter Canada to receive processing of the study permit or work permit. We commend IRCC on implementing the policies, which have protected the safety of applicants and CBSA officers during the pandemic.”

Flagpoling is a common and legal practice whereby a foreign national in Canada leaves and returns to Canada at a Canada/U.S. port of entry without crossing into the United States. The goal of this practice, which is so called because the person is figuratively walking around the flagpole at the border, is to have immigration documents processed faster.

In addition to the extension, the CBA Section recommends that “IRCC’s innovative web form be reinstated and maintained for both temporary processes, pursuant to section 25.2 of the Act” and that the processing of documents be streamlined to protect the safety of both Canada Border Services Agency officers and foreign nationals by mitigating the spread of COVID-19.