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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates December 4 – 10 2023

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a comprehensive weekly news review to keep you well-informed and up-to-date on all matters related to the immigration landscape in Canada. Follow us to stay informed and navigate the immigration process more easily and confidently.

IRCC Held Three New Express Entry Draws In One Week

Last week was particularly notable as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held three new Express Entry draws following a brief halt. This marked a significant increase in the number of draws compared to the usual bi-weekly schedule, demonstrating Canada’s ongoing commitment to welcoming immigrants. On December 6, IRCC issued 4,750 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to candidates under all immigration programs. However, December 7 and December 8 draws were targeted Express Entry draws for specifically Francophone candidates and professionals working in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) occupations, respectively. So far, IRCC issued 1000 ITAs to French language proficiency candidates and 5,900 ITAs to STEM candidates. Canada has invited 106,871 candidates through the regular Express Entry draws this year.

Express Entry is a system the Canadian Government uses to manage applications for permanent residence from skilled workers. It uses a points-based system to rank candidates according to age, education, language proficiency, and work experience. Starting from July 2023, IRCC also holds occupation-specific Express Entry draws for high-demand occupations and Francophone candidates to address workforce shortages in key sectors of the Canadian economy.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers can assist prospective immigrants who wish to navigate the Express Entry system. If you are interested in immigrating to Canada via Express Entry, please contact us to schedule a consultation.

Canada Announced New Measures For International Students

On December 7, 2023, Marc Miller, Minister of IRCC, revealed an update to the financial requirement for study permit applicants. Based on the annual update of the low-income cut-off (LICO), this adjustment ensures that students have sufficient financial resources for their time in Canada. The prior requirement, untouched since the early 2000s, was no longer fitting. As of 2024, a single applicant must demonstrate they have $20,635 in addition to first-year tuition and travel expenses. This updated requirement will come into effect for new study permit applications starting January 1, 2024. 

Additionally, the immigration minister announced an extension of three policies until 2023. Students can work off-campus for over 20 hours weekly until April 30, 2024, applicable to those already in Canada or applying for a study permit by December 7, 2023. Furthermore, online study time will count towards a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) for students starting before September 1, 2024. Also, the Government extended the policy granting an extra 18-month work permit for PGWP holders with expiring permits, applicable to those whose initial permit expires by December 31, 2023.

Ontario Continues Inviting Foreign Professionals Working In High-Demand Occupations

On December 5, 2023, Ontario held new draws under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). The province invited 2,437 candidates working in healthcare, tech, and skilled trades occupations, including those applying under the Economic Mobility Pathways under the Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker Stream (EJO FW) of the OINP. Additionally, Ontario issued 262 ITAs to skilled workers through OINP’s Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream (EJO IDS). So far, in 2023, Ontario has invited 39,564 candidates under all OINP streams.

The OINP presents numerous pathways for skilled workers to make Ontario their home, with streams designed to suit various skill levels and demographics. Navigating the immigration process, however, can seem daunting. At Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers, our expertise in immigration law and the OINP allows us to provide precise guidance throughout your application process. We offer tailored advice to align your application with recent immigration regulations. No matter which OINP stream you apply to, you can count on us for support.

Immigration To Canada Rises Despite Concerns Over High Targets

In October, there was a 4.3% increase in Canada’s immigration, welcoming 33,570 new permanent residents. This followed four months of decrease, according to the data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The numbers slightly picked up from September’s 32,180. There was a previous rebound in immigration from an April low of 29,550 to 46,000 in May. However, it declined again, dropping by 30.3% in five months. From January to October, Canada has welcomed 388,035 new permanent residents. If the current trend persists, Canada will meet its immigration target of 485,000 new permanent residents by the end of 2023. 

Despite public opinion, immigration levels in Canada are set to rise. A poll by Abacus Data found that many Canadians believe immigration targets to be excessive. However, the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan, unveiled on November 1, 2023, sets out to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024, increasing to 500,000 in the following two years. The plan stimulates economic growth, facilitates family reunification, and addresses humanitarian crises. Notably, 67% of Canadians contest these targets, with 40% deeming them exceedingly high.

British Columbia Invited 198 Skilled Workers, Tech Professionals, And Entrepreneurs

On December 5, 2023, British Columbia conducted new invitation rounds under the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP), sending invitations to qualified professionals in healthcare, childcare, construction, and tech sectors. In the Tech draw, 92 candidates received invitations. The childcare-targeted draw saw 46 invitations for early childhood educators (NOC 42202). The healthcare draw invited 24 candidates, and the construction sector saw 31 invitees. Moreover, five business candidates were invited in the Base Category of the Entrepreneur Stream under BCPNP. So far this year, British Columbia has extended invitations to 9,723 candidates.

The BCPNP is a pathway for workers, graduates, and entrepreneurs who want to make British Columbia their home and gain permanent residence in Canada. With a focus on attracting foreign workers with the necessary skills and experience, the BCPNP contributes to the province’s economic growth.

Interest In The RNIP Tends To Increase Substantially As Its Expiration Date Draws Near

As its expiration date in February 2024 approaches, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program has observed a significant surge in applications. The city of Thunder Bay’s Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has recently witnessed immense interest from immigrants who aspire to settle in the region. The number of applications has been so overwhelming that, despite having a limited quota of 115 spots available for 2023 and 2024, more than 200 applications were submitted within the first hour of the portal opening on November 17. 

This tremendous response clearly indicates a robust desire for economic immigration in the region. The RNIP, launched three years ago to benefit smaller communities, has seen a significant increase in local applicants. From having just 67 applicants in 2020, the number has soared to 475 in 2023. Additionally, the program has been allocated an extra 100 spots for 2024, demonstrating its popularity and success. The RNIP’s success can largely be attributed to its role in filling labour gaps in smaller communities. The program’s focus on attracting skilled immigrants eager to contribute to the local economy has proven successful.

Canada Will Continue Conducting Virtual Citizenship Ceremonies

IRCC is currently considering developing and implementing an online tool for self-administration of the Oath of Citizenship. This potential new development is currently under thorough analysis with a strong focus on three key areas: enhancing the client experience, maintaining the integrity of the process, and preserving the importance and significance of citizenship ceremonies. Citizenship ceremonies are meticulously scheduled, considering operational demands, officials’ availability, and venue suitability. IRCC is working towards establishing a 12-month service standard for granting citizenship, demonstrating its commitment to efficiency and client satisfaction. 

In 2020, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, video ceremonies were introduced as an innovative solution to the challenges of the public health crisis. This new modality has proven to be highly beneficial, helping to reduce processing times and increase the rate of oath-taking every month. These video ceremonies have increased efficiency and expanded access, allowing participation from rural areas and accommodating larger groups of people than traditional in-person ceremonies. The impact of these changes has been significant. Between January and September 2023, 276,540 new citizens were sworn in, exceeding the rates seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers have extensive experience helping prospective immigrants move to Canada. We offer a wide range of services, including assisting clients in understanding the immigration process, preparing immigration applications, and representing clients in immigration proceedings. Whether you are seeking to immigrate for work, study, or other reasons, Abramovich & Tchern can guide you through each step of the process, ensuring your application is successful. Contact us for more information.

Lev Abramovich

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.