Last Updated on April 23, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump has followed through on his promise to sign an executive order that he says temporarily suspends immigration in to the United States for 60 days.
The White House says the move will protect American jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending the issuance of US green cards.
“This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” Trump said.
However, experts suggest the move will change very little, given the long list of exemptions and the fact that immigration had already likely slowed to a standstill because of coronavirus restrictions.
Instead, they suggest this was just Trump playing politics with a U.S. presidential election looming.
Exemptions to the supposed immigration ban include those already in the U.S., doctors and nurses, high net worth foreign investors and the spouses and children of U.S. citizens. It also contains no mention of work and study permit holders.
What the order does do is create more uncertainty. Firstly, for the thousands of Canadians who have applied for U.S. permanent residence (in 2019, nearly 18,000 Canadians received green card status).
But also for any immigration applicant of any category, because the message from Trump, regardless of the terms of the executive order, is that immigrants are not welcome.
It is a further indication that prospective new immigrants considering their options will find a welcoming and purpose-built policy infrastructure in Canada, compared to a protectionist US increasingly looking for ways to close itself off.
Should Trump win a second term as US president, he is sure to once again push the anti-immigration agenda that saw him impose a chaotic travel ban in the early stages of his first four years in charge.
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Swift Economic Recovery
Instead of closing itself off entirely during the pandemic currently engulfing the world, Canada has continued to look for a position where immigrants can help the country make a swift economic recovery in post-coronavirus times.
Canada’s coronavirus lockdown in mid-March saw it limit travel to all but citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members.
It quickly introduced exemptions as of March 26, for permanent residents approved before March 18, for all work permit holders, particularly those in agriculture and food-related occupations, and for study permit holders approved before March 18.
Since the lockdown struck, the federal government has conducted six Express Entry draws, issuing Invitations to Apply to 11,720 Provincial Nominee Program and Canadian Experience Class candidates, most likely to already be here as temporary residents.
Yes, these invites have in many cases been tailored in response to the coronavirus crisis, but this is not the behaviour of a country looking to shut itself off to newcomers in the long term.
With spiking unemployment and a stalled economy, skilled worker immigration to Canada is set to become a challenge in the short term.
Business Immigration: Start-Up Visa
However, once Canada does open up, there is a potential for business immigration to thrive, as the country looks for investment and new business opportunities to help kickstart the economy.
One important federal category is the Start-Up Visa Program, targeting innovative entrepreneurs and linking them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up business.
The program offers permanent residence. Candidates may also apply for a work permit supported by their designated Canada-based angel investor, venture capital fund, or business incubator, before qualifying for permanent residence, once their business is up and running.
They only need a qualifying business idea, commitment from an investor, sufficient settlement funds and English or French language skills at Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.
Start-up businesses can be the lifeblood of a recovering economy, making Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program and other provincial entrepreneur and investment programs of central importance both in the short and longer-term.