Canada and U.S. Immigration Update by Melissa M. Babel
Canada: Applicants for temporary and permanent residence are starting to feel the very real effects of the backlog resulting from COVID-19. Processing times for PR Cards, citizenship applications and Family Class Sponsorships are increasing, and that trend is likely to continue. IRCC has announced that it is looking into technology solutions to help support the processing of Spousal Sponsorship applications. Details are yet to be released about any new processes. IRCC has also announced changes to its biometrics requirements for certain permanent residence applicants in an effort to help address backlogs that are forming in all categories of process.
USA:A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from increasing fees for green card and U.S. citizenship applications before the hike in fees was set to take place on October 2, 2020. The October 2020 Visa Bulletin has been released. We discuss this is more depth in our section on US immigration below. President Trump's Proclamation of April 22, which temporarily suspended the issuance of immigrant visas to certain immigrants remains in place until December 31, 2020.
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September has been a slower month for Express Entry draws. Over the summer, we had seen four draws monthly. So far in September, there have been three draws. The first was a draw from all categories of permanent residence applicants. This draw occurred on September 2, 2020 and saw 4200 invitations being issued to candidates with CRS Points of 475 or greater.
The second draw occurred on September 16, 2020 and again was for all categories of permanent residence. Again we saw 4200 invitations being issued, and the candidates with CRS Points of 472 or greater were invited to apply for permeant residence.
Just now, on September 30, 2020 there has been a third draw for 4200 invitations issued to all programs for candidates with CRS Points of 471 or greater.
According to IRCC, as of September 14, 2020, there are over 23,000 people in the Express Entry pool with points between 451-500, which is where most candidates under the Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker Class will sit. With rounds of invitations in the 4000 range, we expect it to take some time for this number to have any meaningful change, and it is likely that the CRS scores needed to be invited under general draws will remain high for the foreseeable future.
TIPS:In-Canada applicants for Express Entry would be wise to consider all options for extending temporary status while they wait for an invitation to apply. Another tip is to be sure that no points are left 'on the table' - which includes having all education assessed, being sure to count all work experience and considering re-taking or upgrading language skills to secure the highest points possible.
None of us can get younger! So finding all of the CRS points that are available is critical to success in this highly competitive time in Express Entry.
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program ("OINP") is considering a move to an Expression of Interest System
The Ontario Provincial Nominee Program ("OINP") has published proposed amendments to the program that would introduce an Express of Interest ("EOI") system, similar to Express Entry and other Provincial Nominee Programs across the country. The changes are intended to increase the OINP's labour market responsiveness and better respond to regional labour market needs. The proposed changes were announced on September 8 and are open to public consultation until October 23, 2020.
The proposed changes are in response to concerns surrounding the OINP's intake process, which involves heavy competition in a 'first come first served' model with programs, including the very popular Employer Job Offer: International Student and Foreign Worker streams, opening and closing within hours.
The most recent example of a program opening and closing in a matter of hours is the Masters Graduate Stream, which was opened and was accepting applications on September 29, 2020 and closed within a matter of hours where the internal registration living of 1215 was met.
According to the OINP updates, intake of applications across all streams are being monitored to determine whether the Masters Graduate, Employer Job Offer streams will reopen in 2020. Stay tuned!
Each month the U.S. Department of Status releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers. The October Visa Bulletin shows a significant move forward in the availability of Employment Based (EB) immigrant visas.
EB-1: All countries are current, with the exception of India and China, who have 'rapid forward movement'
EB-2 All countries are current, except China and India 'rapid forward movement'
EB- 3 (Professional and Skilled Workers): All countries are current, except China and India 'rapid forward movement'
EB-3 (Other Workers): All countries are current, except China (moves for by 4 months) and India (moves forward by 3.5 months)
Employment-based immigrant visa annual limit for FY 2021 is anticipated to be 261,500, which is an all-time high.