Keeping up with IRCC: Recent News and Updates


A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.
Express Entry draw

Staying up-to-date with the latest news and updates in Canadian immigration can be daunting, given the ever-evolving landscape. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently made several significant announcements that have captured the attention of aspiring immigrants and those already in Canada. The following are some of the exciting updates that IRCC has announced recently:

Express Entry invitations targeting French-speaking newcomers

Canada has always strongly emphasized its linguistic diversity and its commitment to promoting French-speaking communities is no exception. In a historic move, IRCC has announced the first-ever Express Entry invitations exclusively for French-speaking newcomers. This initiative seeks to attract skilled individuals who are proficient in both English and French, thereby contributing to the growth and preservation of Canada’s francophone communities.

Canada’s recent announcement of the first-ever Express Entry invitations exclusively for French-speaking newcomers marks a significant milestone in the country’s commitment to linguistic diversity and support for its francophone communities. According to the latest draw under the Express Entry system, on July 7, 2023, a total of 2,300 invitations were issued. The cut-off score for the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) in this draw was 439. This score serves as a benchmark for future candidates to assess their chances of receiving an invitation.

To be eligible for the French-speaking stream, candidates must meet the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) requirements or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). These programs have their own specific eligibility criteria, such as minimum work experience, education qualifications, language proficiency, and adaptability factors. Advanced proficiency in both English and French is essential for this stream, although the specific language requirements for French proficiency have not been outlined in the announcement. Candidates may need to provide language test results, such as the Test de connaissance du français (TCF) or the Test d’évaluation de français (TEF), to demonstrate their language abilities.

This initiative opens a unique opportunity to bilingual individuals to build their lives and careers in a culturally rich setting. By giving preference to French-speaking candidates, Canada hopes to support the development and preservation of its francophone communities while also attracting skilled individuals who can help the country continue to thrive.

New immigration pathway for health care workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important healthcare professionals are in protecting public health and well-being. To meet the increasing demand for skilled medical personnel, Canada has introduced a new immigration program specifically designed for healthcare workers. The goal of this program is to attract qualified doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who can help address Canada’s ongoing healthcare issues and improve the country’s healthcare system.

The eligible occupations encompass various specialties, including but not limited to audiologists and speech language pathologists, chiropractors, dentists, dieticians and nutritionists, education counselors, general practitioners, family physicians, instructors of persons with disabilities, kinesiologists and professionals in therapy and assessment, licensed practical nurses, massage therapists, medical laboratory assistants and technologists, medical radiation technologists, medical sonographers, nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates, nurse practitioners, nursing coordinators and supervisors, occupational therapists, optometrists, and many others.

It is important to note that the most recent Express Entry draw for healthcare occupations occurred on July 6, 2023. During this round, a total of 1,500 candidates were selected to apply for permanent residence. The lowest-ranked candidate who received an invitation had a CRS score of 463.

To be eligible for future healthcare target draws, candidates must meet the requirements of either the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) hence they must be in the pool of the Express Entry system.

This category is largely dependent on a candidate’s occupation or work experience in a specific, in-demand field. That is, within the healthcare field.

Express Entry invitations for skilled newcomers with STEM experience

Canada’s innovation-driven economy has created a high demand for professionals with expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To meet this demand, the IRCC has introduced a new Express Entry pathway specifically for skilled newcomers with STEM experience. This stream recognizes the significant contribution that STEM professionals make to Canada’s economic growth, technological advancements, and innovation.

The announcement did not specify the eligibility requirements for this Express Entry stream. However, applicants who have professional experience in STEM fields like IT, engineering, research, science, and others are likely to have an advantage in the Express Entry system. It is crucial for candidates to highlight their educational background, work experience, and expertise in STEM disciplines. The stream is expected to offer better chances for qualified individuals to obtain permanent residency in Canada, indicating the country’s dedication to attracting talented professionals in STEM fields.

On July 5, 2023, the most recent Express Entry draw for STEM occupations occurred, with a CRS cut-off of 486. As a result, 500 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence.

To be eligible for future STEM target draws, candidates must meet the requirements of either the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) hence they must be in the pool of the Express Entry system. This category is largely dependent on a candidate’s occupation or work experience in a specific, in-demand field.

The eligible STEM occupations for category-based selection draws encompass a diverse range of fields and professions. These include architects, architecture and science managers, business systems specialists, civil engineers, computer and information systems managers, computer engineers, cybersecurity specialists, data scientists, database analysts, electrical and electronics engineers, engineering managers, industrial and manufacturing engineers, information systems specialists, land surveyors, landscape architects, mathematicians, statisticians, actuaries, metallurgical and materials engineers, natural and applied science policy researchers, software developers, web designers, and more.

Prospective applicants with expertise in these STEM occupations can leverage this opportunity to showcase their skills and contribute to Canada’s thriving innovation ecosystem.

Three (3) year work-permits for US H1B Visa holders

Canada has introduced a new work permit specially designed for individuals working in the United States on H1B visas, acknowledging their talent and expertise. This initiative is aimed at attracting highly skilled professionals from the United States and leveraging their knowledge and experience. The new work permit provides flexibility by allowing H1B visa holders to work and study in Canada, which encourages their professional growth and opens up new opportunities for career advancement.

The announcement did not provide specific details on the eligibility requirements for the new work permit for H1B visa holders. However, it is anticipated that applicants must possess a valid H1B visa and meet certain qualifications, work experience, and language proficiency standards. The work permit may be valid for a set period and may enable individuals to work for a specific Canadian employer.

The work permit provides H1B visa holders with an opportunity to explore Canada’s welcoming community, excellent standard of living, and lively job scene. It enables Canada to access a talented group of people who can contribute to its economic development and innovation. This program is an appealing option for professionals who want to expand their prospects and discover fresh opportunities beyond the borders of the United States.

Canada opens new economic immigration streams for skilled refugees and other displaced people

Canada is known for welcoming people who have been displaced by conflict, persecution, and other difficult situations. To continue this tradition, the IRCC has created new immigration options for skilled refugees and displaced individuals who want to start a new life in Canada. These opportunities allow individuals to use their skills and talents to benefit Canadian communities.

The specific requirements for these economic immigration options have not been announced yet. However, it is expected that candidates will need to show that they have the necessary skills and qualifications and provide proof of their displacement or refugee status. The IRCC will likely evaluate candidates’ education, work experience, language abilities, and ability to adapt to the Canadian job market. This initiative aims to help skilled refugees and displaced individuals rebuild their lives and contribute to Canadian society. By providing a way to become a permanent resident, Canada shows its commitment to being inclusive, diverse, and humanitarian.

Great news for travelers from 13 additional countries! Canada has expanded its visa-free travel program, allowing eligible individuals from these countries to explore the wonders of Canada without the need for a visa. The expansion of visa-free travel aims to promote tourism, cultural exchange, and global connections, while also streamlining the travel process and encouraging economic growth through increased tourism.

The government recently announced the addition of 13 countries to the electronic travel authorization (eTA) program. This means that travelers from these countries who have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa can now apply for an eTA instead of a visa when traveling to Canada by air.

The 13 countries included in this expansion are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Citizens of these countries can now benefit from the convenience and ease of the eTA program when planning their trip to Canada.

Introducing visa-free air travel will make it faster, easier, and more affordable for thousands of travelers to visit Canada for up to six months, whether for business or leisure purposes.

The expansion of the eTA program also has positive implications for Canada’s visa application process. By diverting thousands of applications from Canada’s visa caseload, the government can now process visa applications more efficiently, benefiting all visa applicants and ensuring smoother operations.

It is important to note that individuals who already have a valid visa can continue to use it to travel to Canada. However, for those who are eligible for an eTA, this new option provides a quicker and more convenient way to enter Canada by air.

Recognizing the value of continuous learning and professional development, IRCC has introduced a new measure that benefits foreign workers currently in Canada. Work permit holders in Canada can now enroll in designated learning institutions to enhance their skills and career opportunities. This policy change shows Canada’s commitment to attracting and retaining skilled individuals and supporting their professional development.

The benefits of this new measure are manifold. Foreign workers who choose to pursue educational programs in Canada can enhance their knowledge, gain new skills, and expand their professional networks. This, in turn, opens up a wider range of career opportunities and increases their overall employability not just in Canada but also in the global job market. By acquiring Canadian education and work experience, these individuals can position themselves as valuable assets in their respective fields.

To conclude, IRCC’s recent announcements have shown that Canada is taking a proactive approach to immigration and is committed to attracting skilled professionals, fostering diversity, and embracing innovation. Although specific eligibility requirements for some programs or updates have not been provided, individuals interested in Canadian immigration should regularly check the official IRCC website and consult with Canadian embassies or consulates for detailed guidelines. These developments offer significant opportunities for individuals with language proficiency, healthcare expertise, STEM qualifications, refugee and those seeking visa-free travel or study opportunities in Canada. By staying informed and understanding the specific requirements of the programs, individuals can take advantage of opportunities that align with their skills and aspirations. The Canadian immigration process is complex and constantly evolving, which can present challenges for foreign nationals. However, we are dedicated to offering unwavering support to our clients throughout their immigration journey. We strive to be a trusted guide at every stage. If you are a foreign national looking to move to Canada or are already in Canada and want to explore your options, please contact our office to speak with one of lawyers for more information.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.