Canada and U.S. Immigration Update by Melissa M. Babel
The month of May has seen a sort of settling into a new normal when it comes to border restrictions, limitations on intake and processing by both IRCC and USCIS due to COVID-19 related matters.
Canada and the United States have agreed to a further extension of cross-border travel restrictions for another 30 days, until at least June 21, 2020.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") announced increased compliance requirements for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers ("TFW") due to COVID-19. These include ensuring that a TFW can comply with the mandatory 14 day quarantine period, delaying the start of work until after the 14 day period, and paying the TFW during the 14 day period. A trigger for an inspection includes notification of the introduction or spread of a communicable disease at any place or premises where the TFW performs work, or an employer employers a TFW who is or was subject to an order or regulation made under the Emergencies Act or the Quarantine Act. These new employer conditions are the subject of compliance inspections, and non-compliance can result in fines being levied against employers as well as bans from the use of the TFWP. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ESDC is conducting paper-based, rather than on-site inspections.
We have been assisting employers to draft the Quarantine Plan to present on entry to Canada. Employers and TFWs must be aware of these additional compliance requirements.
There is no announcement yet on the re-opening of the Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship program for 2020.
Express Entry Update - Continued Focus on In-Canada Applicants
In May we have again seen 4 rounds of invitations under the Express Entry system which have happened in pairs - one day we have a draw for the Canadian Experience Class and the next, or shortly thereafter, the Provincial Nominee Class. It is an interesting approach to accessing the pool of candidates. However it does keep the door closed (temporarily we home) on Federal Skilled Workers and the Federal Skilled Trades classes.
On May 13, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to Provincial Nominee Applicants and issued 529 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 718 and higher. The following day, May 14, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to Canadian Experience Class Applicants and issued 3371 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 447 and higher.
On May 28, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to Canadian Experience Class Applicants and issued 3515 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 440 and higher. This is the lowest CRS score to be included in a draw since January 2019. On May 27, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to Provincial Nominee Applicants and issued 385 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 757 and higher.
Return of Premium Processing and Reopening of USCIS Field Offices
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced today that it will resume premium processing for Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. The resumption of premium processing will happen in phases over the month of June.
Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all eligible Form I-140 petitions. Effective June 8, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt; AND all other Form I-129 petitions for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication. Additional options will become available on June 15 and June 22, 2020 for other H-1B cases and all other Form I-129 petitions for non immigrant classifications eligible for premium processing.
Also, on June 4, 2020, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. Numerous changes in process have been announced to as precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Naturalization ceremonies, which have been on hold, will begin to be rescheduled. Ceremonies may be shorter, and there will changes to the proceedings, including limiting attendance to the naturalization candidate and individuals providing assistance to disabled persons.