Canada and U.S. Immigration Update by Melissa M. Babel
Canada: October has started a return to some degree of 'new normal' for Canadian immigration. Visa Application Centres around the world are reopening, and many visa offices have recommenced regular processing. In Canada, Service Canada has begun providing biometrics services in Canada, which means that PR applications under Express Entry and other streams, will be able to finalize applications that were on hold while in-person services were limited at Service Canada locations.
We have seen the opening of the long-awaited 2020 Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship program, with the intake process for filing an 'Interest to Sponsor' Form opening from October 13, 2020 to November 3, 2020. Once the intake process is complete, it is expected that IRCC will issue 10,000 invitations to sponsors who have expressed their interest in sponsoring a parent or grandparent. Once invited, families will have 60 days to file complete applications for permanent residence.
There was some good news for the extended family of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as individuals looking to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons. IRCC announced changes to the travel restrictions to allow certain individuals to enter Canada. This list includes foreign nationals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year (with some restrictions); adult non-dependent children's, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents who are entering Canada for 15 days or more to request permission to travel to Canada. Additionally, foreign nationals who with compassionate reasons to enter (including being present during the final moments of life for a loved one, providing support for a critically ill person, and attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony). Those individuals are able to request entry and limited release from mandatory quarantine for compassionate reasons. This change in policy has had a significant impact on many families who otherwise have been separated for many months.
US: With the election on November 3, 2020, we expect to see announcements directly related to Immigration in the near future.
Express Entry October Update
October has been a much slower month for rounds of invitations under Express Entry. There was just one set of invitations issued this month, on October 14, 2020. This was an open draw to all streams, and IRCC issued 4500 invitations to candidates with CRS Points of 471 or higher.
In other Express Entry news, IRCC has announced changes to the Comprehensive Ranking System ("CRS") points for demonstrated French language abilities. This change means that French speaking and bilingual candidates under Express Entry will now receive 25 additional points for their language skills (increased from 15) and candidates who are fluent in both official languages will now be eligible for 50 points (increased from 30). This reassigning of points is within the discretion of the Minister of Immigration, and reflects a focus on attracting French-speaking economic immigrants to provinces outside of Quebec.