Customs & Immigration

Random virus checks returning

A global resurgence in confirmed coronavirus cases is prompting the federal government to reinstate mandatory random tests for returning air travellers July 19. “That is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced. “We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.” [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa pressed on travel jams

Customs & Immigration Union President Jack Weber believes that a lack of frontline airport staff, coupled with an overdependence on technology notably the ArriveCan app, are contributing to widespread long lineups as well as flight delays and cancellations. He is urging recruitment of at least 2,000 staff at airports and marine and land entry points. [node:read-more:link]

Poland completes border wall

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and top Polish security officials visited their country’s border last week to mark the completion of a steel wall designed to stem the influx of migrants. Morawiecki’s government also plan to lift a state of emergency that has blocked human ights agencies, reporters and others from monitoring developments along the border. [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus controls unchanged for now

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has confirmed that federal public health requirements for visitors, including use of the ArriveCAN app, are expected to remain in place until the end of September. Also, the suspension of random COVID-19 testing for airport arrivals has been extended to mid-July. [node:read-more:link]

Costs of Canadian residency increased

Effective April 30, Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada has increased all fees for permanent resident applications. Covering economic, permit holder, family and humanitarian migrants, they are designed to align Canada with Australia, Britain, New Zealand and other countries with similar programs. [node:read-more:link]

Some coronavirus border rules eased

Effective April 25, some of Canada’s pandemic border restrictions are being eased for those who are fully vaccinated and for children aged five to 11 regardless of their vaccination status as long as they are accompanied by a vaccinated parent or guardian. Pre-entry remains mandatory for eligible party-vaccinated or unvaccinated visitors aged 12 and up and vaccine mandates remain in effect for boarding aircraft, trains or cruise ships. [node:read-more:link]

Vets charity says Canada “risk averse”

The Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, having raised $3.6 million and helped to rescue 2,061 Afghanis since the Taliban took control, is refocusing its efforts to help veterans deal with mental-health issues. Among other things, VRN Executive Director Oliver Thorne blames “government policy that is very risk averse to the point of being selfish.” [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus travel rules to ease

Effective April 1, the federal government will scrap pre-entry coronavirus testing for all returning travellers who are at least double-vaccinated. “We are now entering into a transition phase of this pandemic,” However, travellers will still need to complete a questionnaire about their vaccination status and travel history. [node:read-more:link]

Accused human smuggler indicted

A U.S. grand jury has indicted a Florida resident arrested Jan. 19 near the Manitoba-U.S. border last month and accused of involvement in human smuggling. Steve Anthony Shand was arrested shortly after RCMP found the bodies of a family of four from India who froze to death a few metres north of the border after being separated from others in their party found in a van driven by Shand. [node:read-more:link]

Canada’s immigration system clogged

Despite calls for an immigration freeze to allow time for addressing an already problematic backlog of applications, the latest federal plan calls for some 448,000 citizenship applications, 519,030 permanent residency applications and 848,598 temporary residency applications to be processed. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser says the current backlog is due to a surge in applications issues he says are “a direct result of the virus blocking our operations.” [node:read-more:link]

Confused by coronavirus policies?

Canada has had a vaccine requirement for travellers for almost two months but some, such as returning Canadians are exempt. Moreover, unvaccinated foreigners in Canada can board departing flights until the end of February and some unvaccinated foreign nationals such as those granted permanent residency or visiting for compassionate reason are still able to enter. [node:read-more:link]

Airlines question quarantine policy

Air Canada, WestJet and Toronto International Airport have asked Ottawa to drop its requirement for vaccinated travellers to be tested for coronavirus on arrival. “As the government has ramped up testing at airports for international arrivals, we have seen frontline workers struggle to get PCR tests, and lab processing capacity decrease significantly,” they said Jan. 17. “There is a growing discrepancy between resources allocated to asymptomatic travellers and to those who need it most.” [node:read-more:link]

Hungarian PM defying EU

Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary plans to stick with controversial immigration legislation despite a European Union ruling that Hungarian law breaches EU law by criminalizing lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers. It also prevents asylum seekers from applying for status if they arrive from a country where their lives are deemed not to be at risk. [node:read-more:link]

Former CAF leader laments Afghan girl’s death

A 10-year-old Afghan girl preparing to come to Canada was recently killed at Taliban roadblock and retired MGen David Fraser, who commanded NATO troops in Kandahar, says her death shows that the federal government isn’t moving fast enough to patriate its former allies. The girl’s father had worked for the Canadian Armed Forces in Kandahar, and Kynan Walper, chief operations officer at a group helping them, agrees that “this young girl is dead because of delays in getting people over here.” [node:read-more:link]

Omicron spread rate unprecedented

The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus Omicron variant is spreading globally at an unprecedented rate with cases confirmed in 77 countries and suspected in any others. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.” [node:read-more:link]


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