The process of applying for employment insurance and other benefits packages in light of COVID-19 can be challenging for many newcomers to Canada. (Unsplash)

The process of applying for employment insurance and other benefits packages in light of COVID-19 can be challenging for many newcomers to Canada. (Unsplash)

COVID-19: Immigrants face language, financial barriers during crisis

Citizenship events halted, permanent residency applications still being processed

The unknowns faced by new immigrants in Canada have multiplied in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the immigration process hasn’t slowed, officials say.

Exemptions to current travel advisories allow temporary foreign workers, international students and approved permanent residents to enter the country despite ongoing restrictions barring non-essential travel to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Those coming into the country are required to pass a health check and isolate for 14 days after arriving.

But the days and weeks since the pandemic hit Canada have created new challenges for newcomers, says Asuka Hirai, director at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS).

“Some of our clients, they have lost their jobs,” she said. “Many were new and just got hired, so some qualify for EI (employment insurance) but some don’t.”

READ ALSO: New immigrants to Victoria have online options to combat isolation

Hirai says some of the new Canadians who can access EI are still struggling.

“Many of them are having difficulties applying for benefits because they have low literacy skills,” she said. “So it has been difficult for them to navigate the system to access resources.”

And VIRCS, like many other organizations, including the Immigrant Services Society of BC, has closed its offices – providing all services remotely by phone or online. That’s a difficult adjustment when language is already a barrier, Hirai said.

“Because we are not seeing them face to face, sometimes it takes longer to apply for the benefits,” she explained. “Case managers taking more time to understand their stories, what the struggles are, so they can apply for the proper benefits.”

For people with permanent resident applications still being processed, the federal government has extended deadlines by 90 days for steps that might be difficult during the pandemic, such as submitting passports or police certificates, or completing an immigration medical exam. Applicants also have 90 days to submit their biometrics instruction letters, which provide proof of document submission.

Citizen applications may be delayed, but are ongoing, according to the federal government. All citizenship ceremonies, tests and retests are cancelled until April 13.

The government says refugee resettlement programs are paused but will resume when conditions permit.

READ ALSO: Canadian seniors isolated with fewer friends, less access to internet



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusImmigration

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

David Moskowitz file
Wildsight to present webinar on Inland Temperate Rainforest

Join Wildsight next Tuesday, December 1, 2020 for a free webinar on… Continue reading

Carmen Hintz (right) donates $500 to Heather Smith (left) at the Kimberley Food Bank, leftover cash after fundraising to rescue four kittens. Paul Rodgers photo.
Local’s extra kitten fundraiser money donated to Kimberley Food Bank

Carmen Hintz donates $500, after raising money to support rescued cats

Ryder and Cohen of Kimberley Minor Hockey can play on with new mandates from the Provincial Health Officer. Photo submitted.
Kimberley Minor Hockey president hopes to see curve flatten for a return to hockey

New COVID-19 orders put in place by the government last week stated… Continue reading

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Smoothing out the walking path near the roof extension at Centre 64. Photo submitted
BC Rehab sponsored Accessibility Project completed at Centre 64

Work continues on making the Arts Centre accessible to all

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

Most Read