Canada and U.S. Immigration Update by Melissa M. Babel
There is truly never a dull moment in Canadian and U.S. immigration law. In this edition, and as we approach the beginning of the school year in Canada and the U.S., we discuss the impact of travel restrictions and policy changes on international students coming in to Canada as well as F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants into the U.S.
Canada: The long-standing pilot program that allows the spouse of a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident being sponsored for permanent residence in Canada to apply for an open work permit is expiring on July 31, 2020. As of the publication of this newsletter, there have been no instructions issued extending the pilot. This program benefits many couples and families in Canada by allowing a spouse to work while awaiting the processing of their permanent residence application.
In July, the Federal Court found that elements of the 'Safe Third Country Agreement' between Canada and the U.S., violate the constitutional rights of refugee claimants to life, liberty and security. The Safe Third Country Agreement prevents most individuals who seek to enter Canada from the U.S. from making a claim for protection as a refugee in Canada. The impact of the decision has been suspended for six months, and it is likely to be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal.
Policy changes have also been announced for students seeking to enter Canada for the Fall 2020 semester. Only student who have a valid study permit, who were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020 or who are coming from the United States are exempt from travel restrictions to Canada.
In other news - it's our anniversary! Babel Immigration Law Professional Corporation was formed in July 2019. A huge thank you to all of our clients, colleagues, friends and supporters throughout this first year. Here's to many more!
We look forward to seeing you soon in our new offices at 1300 Cornwall Road, suite 201, Oakville, Ontario.
Express Entry and the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program - Employer Job Offer Update
In July we have seen three (3) rounds of invitations under the Express Entry system - one for the Canadian Experience Class, one for the Provincial Nominee class, and one for all categories.
On July 8, 2020, IRCC conducted the first open draw (no category specified) in many months. This round included applicants in all categories, including Federal Skilled Workers. 3900 invitations were issued to candidates with CRS scores of 478.
On July 22, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to the Provincial Nominee Class and issued 557 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 687 and higher. The following day, July 23, 2020 IRCC conducted a draw exclusive to the Canadian Experience Class and issued 3343 invitations to candidates with a CRS points of 445 and higher.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program ("OINP") opened and closed its Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker Stream on July 21, 2020. The program was highly anticipated by Ontario employers, and had been closed for many months. Within hours of opening, the program had received its full internal registration limit of 1300 applications. No additional registrations for this stream will be accepted. We are continuing to monitor the opening of other streams at the OINP include the Masters Graduate, Employer Job Offer: International Student and Foreign Worker streams.
In March 2020, the U.S. government issued instructions allowing foreign students in the U.S. to maintain their F-1 and M-1 status if their courses were being offered in an online capacity as a result of the pandemic.
On July 6, 2020 a policy directive was issued that would have required international students to take at least some in-person coursework in order to remain in the U.S, causing many foreign students to become concerned about their maintaining their status or entering the U.S. to study.
This policy was challenged in court by post-secondary institutions, including Harvard and MIT, and on July 15, 2020, the U.S. government announced the rescission of the policy, giving many foreign students and visa applicants a sense of relief.
However, on July 24, 2020, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a set of 'clarifying questions' for students in the Fall 2020 said that students who were not already enrolled in post-secondary institutions as of March 9 will 'likely not be able to obtain' a visa if they intend to take courses entirely online. The statement reads:
"New or initial nonimmigrant students who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be conducted completely online will likely not be able to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa to study in the United States. If a nonimmigrant student was enrolled in a course of study in the United States on March 9, 2020, but subsequently left the country, that student likely remains eligible for a visa since the March 2020 guidance permitted a full online course of study form inside the United States or from abroad."
There is still much confusion for international students seeking to enter or remain in the U.S. for the upcoming Fall 2020 academic semester.