On September 23, Prime Minister Trudeau gave a televised national address in order to speak on the current situation in Canada and kick off the new session of Parliament. The speech focused a lot on the economic effects of the pandemic and efforts Canada will be taking to address these effects going forward. One area where Canada has been greatly impacted is immigration, with greater restrictions put in place, and fewer jobs available for Canadians and non-Canadians alike.

New Immigration Mandate Letter Expected

In the coming weeks, Trudeau is expected to issue a new immigration mandate letter to Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino. This will be the second mandate letter in less than a year. The last one was issued in December 2019.

The letter will set new priorities for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the coming months. It is unusual for a new mandate to be set without a change in government or the implementation of a new Minister, however, the effects of COVID-19 have caused all areas of government to reassess priorities and adjust as necessary.

The mandates set out in December’s letter were impacted greatly by the restrictions put in place since March. In particular, Minister Mendicino has been unable to implement a new Municipal Nominee Program which would have seen 5,000 potential openings created for new immigrants to Canada. In addition, there were plans in place to eliminate application fees for Canadian citizenship. Presumably, the new mandate letter will set out goals for reviving these plans as soon as possible.

New Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023

Minister Mendicino announced a 2020-2022 plan for Canada’s immigration levels on March 12th of this year, just as the pandemic was taking hold in the country. At the time, the plan outlined target numbers for new permanent residents in the country, seeking to grow the overall annual admissions from 341,000 in 2020 to 361,000 in 2022. The plan also identified key commitments the IRCC would be looking to make over the following two years, including:

  • responsibly grow Canada’s population;
  • take the steps to make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot a permanent program to continue supporting economic growth in Atlantic Canada, with 5,000 admissions;
  • create a new stream to provide a safe haven for human rights advocates, journalists and humanitarian workers at risk abroad;
  • facilitate the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, to address specific labour market shortages;
  • support family reunification through sustained high admissions; and
  • reduce application processing times and improve service delivery and client services at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Of course, these plans went through a significant upheaval in the subsequent months as immigration was restricted to only the most essential cases, immigration offices around the world were shuttered, and global travel restrictions were implemented.

Now it appears there will be a new plan unveiled in the next month, outlining Canada’s immigration goals for 2021-2023, presumably with adjustments to account for the unprecedented circumstances of the current time. How this new plan will differ from the original plan released in March remains to be seen.

IRCC Reopening In-Person Services on a Limited Basis

On September 17th, IRCC announced a slow reopening of some in-person services beginning this past Monday, by appointment only. So far, the following services have been announced:


  • Vancouver Expo will be reopening for limited citizenship-related services, including citizenship knowledge re-testing and citizenship hearings, for a select cohort of applicants, to test the flow and viability of client-facing services. IRCC will be scheduling appointments by email.

Permanent residence:

  • IRCC offices in Etobicoke and Montréal are reopening for permanent residence-related services. Clients who require a permanent resident card (PR card) pick up or permanent residence determination (interview to determine the client’s status) will be contacted by email to schedule an appointment.


  • IRCC offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls are reopening for limited asylum-related services.
  • IRCC will schedule appointments via e-post with clients who need to collect or submit documents, provide their biometric information, or come in for an interview.
  • If this pilot goes well, IRCC offices in Vancouver (Hornby), Montréal and Etobicoke will open in the future to provide these services.

The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.

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