A Richmond-based immigration consultant is behind a nationwide virtual conference to discuss challenges her industry is facing during the pandemic.
According to conference organizer Lily Zheng, the event was set up to address concerns from colleagues and to support each other during “unprecedented” times.
Zheng told the Richmond News that many consultants felt overwhelmed and a bit lost when the pandemic forced most businesses to shut down in mid-March.
“We were busy working on many cases during that time, but the temporary closure of the visa application centres put a halt on our cases. And many applicants were left hanging in the air,” said Zheng.
Zheng said the slowdown has inevitably affected newcomers’ arrival to Canada, adding to the stress and anxiety already being experienced by immigrants and international students waiting for their applications to be approved.
“For example, some (permanent) residents are trying to get their (PR) cards renewed and other freshly graduated international students are in urgent need of getting work permits. Otherwise, they are unable to find work or even stay here to pursue their dreams,” said Zheng.
“The most pressing case is a few overseas visitors, who were stuck here following flight cancellations due to COVID-19, but their visitor visas are going to expire.”
Meanwhile, immigration consultants who are working from home are also struggling.
“Figuring out solutions by yourself has been a bit challenging. It feels like walking in the darkness alone. After bringing up concerns with other consultants, I found that I am not alone and we faced the same issues. Therefore, the idea of setting up a support club to allow us to share resources struck us,” said Zheng.
As such, the Canadian Immigration Consultants Club (CICC), formed by licensed consultants across different provinces, has held four virtual meetings over the past two months to discuss various topics related to migration.
For more information about the conference, contact Zheng at email@example.com.