Immigration Options for Filipinos: An Update

Good news for would-be immigrants! Governments are slowly easing up on travel restrictions, so even during the pandemic, there are immigration options for Filipinos.

While vaccines, “vaccine passports,” and “vaxications” may restore international mobility, the pandemic remains a variable holding up a new normal. For international travel “to come back,” more people must be vaccinated, and governments feel it is safe to open their borders to visitors – and migrants.

Still Hoping to Immigrate to the US?

If you are, then you’re in luck! Travel is up in the US.

On April 2, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it considers people fully vaccinated if they received the last required dose of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized vaccine within the past two weeks.

The last weekend of June 2021 saw the highest levels of air passenger traffic since the start of the global pandemic. This piece of news, revealed by the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, disclosed that airports across the US screened over 1.35 million Americans, making the last Sunday its busiest day in a year.

Then there is the promise and commitment of the Biden administration to solve the backlog of visa applications worldwide. As America’s door opens, which other windows of the world follow suit?

Discover your best life overseas. Talk to us about your immigration plans.

The UK Classifies Countries.

Across the Atlantic, the UK established a new traffic light system and green watch list, with UK’s Global Travel Taskforce implementing a strategy to categorize countries based on:

  • The percentage of the vaccinated population.
  • Rate of infection.
  • Occurrence of COVID-19 variants of concern.
  • Access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

The UK then assigns traffic light codes per country: green, amber, and red. Countries with a red traffic light designation do not meet its standards for health safety. Therefore, the UK government has banned their citizens and nationals from entering the country.

Are you still interested to immigrate to the UK though the Philippines is on the UK’s red list? You may want to consider other countries instead due to the limited immigration options for Filipinos.

Elsewhere in continental Europe, Euro Weekly, a newspaper reporting news in Spain, projects outbound travel recovery from the 2020 slump. The travel market analyst, IPK International, seconded this assumption in its January 2021 survey. IPK forecast that 62% of travelers intend to travel overseas this year.

New Zealand reopens to Australia and the world, with caveats

For the rest of the world seeking to enter NZ temporarily or otherwise, Immigration New Zealand, or INZ, announced that visa applications reopened on April 19, 2021. Therefore, quarantine-free travel now allows more movement between New Zealand and Australia. Are there immigration options for Filipinos?

INZ’s announcement was ominous as that government agency warns travelers to “prepare for disruption to travel plans.”

International students were the first group allowed to apply for entry to New Zealand, albeit with border exceptions. INZ admitted only 250 Ph.D., 1,000 bachelor’s degree, and post students if they ever had a New Zealand student visa. INZ, moreover, requires border-exempt students to have at least NZD 15,000 per year for living costs.

The restriction means INZ will not be issuing new visas to new overseas student applicants.

Immigrate to New Zealand.

If you still intend to immigrate to New Zealand, the cutback on visa issuance has also extended to permanent residents. This is because the government suspended the skilled worker’s program for those seeking permanent residence. The same is true for applicants for the Parent Resident visa category, which is limited to 1,000 per year.

Applicants need not fear, however. Though INZ has suspended the selection process, it still accepts Expressions of Interest, or EOI, for these programs.

This next bit of news may affect you if your son or daughter is sponsoring you for permanent residence. On February 24, 2020, INZ increased the income requirement for sponsors. Currently, a New Zealand Citizen or resident sponsoring one parent must have an annual gross income of NZD 53,040. And, if he is supporting both parents, the minimum income requirement is NZD 106,080. The increase might cause a build-up, long queues, and short-lived expectations of being invited.

Even if INZ did not change the threshold, though, the economic impact of COVID-19 may make it more difficult for sponsors to meet the requirement for two of the three years before their parent(s) applies for residence. Based on the salary guide released by Careers New Zealand in 2020, aspiring sponsors in several fields were not likely to meet the one-parent income requirement, including those working in customer service, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing and operations, transport, and logistics.

Australia slightly open

In 2018, the Department of Home Affairs held invitation rounds twice a month. In 2020, they had a monthly selection of candidates until October 21, when the department went into pandemic-induced hiatus. For 2021, SkillSelect started the quarterly selection process by invitation.

Given the still-recovering nature of Australia’s economy, the following invitation round for July 2020 would most likely mirror the number of invitations issued for the same two subclasses: Skilled Independent (189) and Skilled Work Regional (491).

However, even the lucky ones invited to apply may have to:

  • Wait until the Australian government lifts travel restrictions or;
  • Take the required negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and observe post-arrival quarantine protocols.

Despite a rosy outlook to recover in the next two to three years, the Department of Home Affairs prefers skilled migrants and international students who have completed their academic programs and already live in Australia. If you are applying to immigrate to Australia from overseas, you may have to wait until the economy recovers significantly and businesses need skills and talents for work that Australian citizens are not keen on doing.

Can you still immigrate to Canada?

Canada still offers a lot of immigration options for Filipinos.

With over CAD 180 billion in household and business excess cash – according to Canada’s national statistical agency, Statistics Canada, or StatCan, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Canada could look to great recovery years ahead for domestic travel, accommodation, and the hospitality industries.

CIBC sees the spending spree from two groups:

  • Those who received benefits from the Canadian government to pay their bills and continue to struggle to make ends meet and;
  • Full-time workers who, despite receiving benefits, put off taking a vacation in the past year.

The governments see the second group with extra funds as “revenge mobility spenders.” Traveling now could be construed as an insult to a neighbor, friend, or relative among the 512,000 long-term unemployed, as reported in the January 2021 Labour Force Survey of StatCan. Long-term unemployed people are those looking for work or who have been on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more.

On the other side of the demographic equation, non-citizens, such as international students and temporary workers, continue to outpace their counterparts overseas in the Express Entry selection process.

Express Entry Draws

In the first Express Entry draw of July 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, invited 5,000 applicants under the lowest score of 432 – 17 points less than the March 18 Canadian Experience Class, or CEC, draw. CEC is one of three qualifying programs under Canada’s Express Entry immigrant selection system implemented by IRCC.

ExpressEntry candidate profile submission is ongoing, and hope is extended to applicants since they can opt to renew their profiles if IRCC does not invite them to apply. However, they will be a year older and consequently get lower points for the age factor. Applicants must, therefore, make up for lower migration points by improving their credentials.

The criterion with the most potential for adding points and enhance invitation prospects is language proficiency. ExpressEntry combines a candidate’s English or French proficiency with foreign work experience and education. But even here, education obtained in Canada offers advantages over one acquired at home. Plus, being an international student means immediate availability for a job interview, enhanced opportunities for job offers, and bonus points for completing the academic program.

Then there is Canada’s unique postgraduate work permit or PGWP stage. An international student who has completed a two-year post-secondary course could stay in Canada for up to 3 years to work full time without paying tuition fees to maintain the student status.

Finally, the spouse-factor advantage for an international student allows the spouse to work full time from day one up to the whole PGWP period. And, even if the student spouse has not completed a 2-year course, the working spouse may already be eligible for the CEC class if he or she has worked full-time for at least a year.

Countries still process visa applications.

There are several immigration options for Filipinos even during this pandemic. The common thread among these Desti-Nations is the fact that the processing of visa applications continues online though governments may temporarily suspend some migration programs.

There is a consensus that that immigrants contribute to the economy and cultural diversity of the receiving country. Borders will, therefore, gradually reopen, and migration doors would inch towards a total opening.

The message in the sky is clear: Immigrants are welcome. Not just now – yet.