On January 25, 2023, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they are moving forward with a new option to increase the enrollment capacity for new and renewing NEXUS members. The new enrollment option for air travelers is expected to be available by Spring 2023 and will include CBSA interviews at reopened airport enrollment centers in Canada and separate CBP interviews at Canadian airport preclearance locations for applicants departing for the United States. This is welcome news for many Canadians who have been waiting for renewals of NEXUS or the ability to apply at a Canadian airport.
To Read More: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/canada-and-united-states-announce-new-nexus-interview-option-expand
Measures to Tackle Immigration Backlog in Ottawa
Canada's current backlog of work, study and visitor visa applications, along with permanent residence matters currently in queue for processing by IRCC sits at more than 2 Million. A draft document from December 2022 reveals that IRCC is considering 'aggressive options' to significantly reduce the backlog. This was reported on by the Global and Mail among other outlets.
There has been discussion of bulk processing of applications, or possibly waiving certain eligibility requirements for roughly 450,000 visitor visa applications. There would still be admissibility checks, according to the memo, to address applicants' risk to national security, among other issues.
It is unclear how effective these changes will be however, the goal is to reduce the inventory of current applications to process incoming applications more quickly.
Alberta Express Entry Eligibility Criteria Update:
On January 18, 2023, the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program, which functions as part of Alberta's Provincial Nominee Program, added a new requirement to help new immigrants establish themselves in the province.
Candidates in the Express Entry Pool who have immediate relatives in the province (Parent, Child, Sibling, that are permanent residents or citizens of Canada) now meet an added selection criteria for the program.
It is important to note that this update affects the Alberta Express Entry Stream and will not impact previous selections from the already submitted profile, as the eligibility is based on information candidates already submitted to their profile.
With this change now implemented and in effect, Alberta can now streamline Notification of Interests to those with relatives in the province and who have experience in high-demand occupations to help support the flourishment of the province.
To Read more: https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-advantage-immigration-program.aspx
U.S. Immigration Update
USCIS Resumes Processing for H-4 AND L-2 Dependent Applications:
On January 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that they would resume the adjudication of H-4 AND L-2 Applications for extensions or changes to status and work authorization with principal Form I-129.
Since March 2019, there have been lengthy processing delays for dependent applications, with applications taking as long as two (2) years to process. Ultimately, a settlement was reached, and USCIS agreed to return to the bundling of I-539 and I-765 for H-4 and L-2 when filled together, along with the underlying I-129.
The resumption of processing these applications will help reduce the extended processing times currently being experienced and alleviate backlog from within the immigration system.
To read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2023/01/21/uscis-settles-lawsuit-that-should-help-h-1b-and-l-1-visa-spouses/?sh=71c9df3c216a
USCIS Extends Covid-19 Flexibilities:
On January 24, 2023, the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services announced an extension to Covid-19 Related flexibilities to help service those still experiencing set back from the pandemic.
Under the current flexibilities, USCIS considers responses from 60 calendar days after notice or set due date. These measures have been implemented from March 2020 until March 23, 2023. Such requests that fall under this extension include the following:
Request for Evidence
Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14)
Notices of Intent to Deny
Notices of Intent to Revoke
Notices of Intent to Rescind
Notices of Intent to Terminate Regional Centers
Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status, and,
Motions to Re-open an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 334.4, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.
USCIS anticipates this will be the final accommodation extension and emphasizes that requestors and applicants must comply with any request or dates set after March 23, 2023.
To read more: https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-extends-covid-19-related-flexibilities-1
Express Entry Update January 2023
This month we had two Express Entry Draws. On January 11, 2023, 5,500invitations to apply were issued to candidates in the Express Entry pool with the minimum CRS score of 507or higher in all categories (no program specified). As well as another draw, which took place on January 18, 2023, with 5,500 invitations to apply, was issued to candidates in the Express Entry Pool with a minimum CRS score of 490 or higher (no program specified).
The number of invitations that are being issued in each draw is steadily climbing, with a correlated drop in the number of CRS points required to qualify. The points are still high, but we are getting closer to a range where many qualified candidates with Canadian experience could expect to be invited.
As an alternative strategy to the Express Entry route, a number of Provincial Nominee Programs are actively issuing invitations and processing applications. On January 27, 2023, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program ("OINP") issued 10 invitations to apply to candidates with a qualified interest in Entrepreneur Stream. Invitations to apply were issued for expressions of interest that received a score between 137 and 162. While the BC Provincial Nominee Program ("BCPNP") issued 221 invitations to apply in their general draw, on, January 24, 2023.
To read more: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/ministerial-instructions/express-entry-rounds.html