Weekly Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates October 23 – 29 2023


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.
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Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly news review, offering up-to-date insights and analysis on Canadian immigration matters and IRCC updates. Follow us on our social media platforms for real-time updates and interesting discussions.

IRCC Held Three Express Entry Draws In A Week

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held three Express Entry draws in the past week, inviting an increasing number of skilled immigrants to apply for permanent residency. On October 24, IRCC issued 1,548 Invitations to Apply (ITA) to Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates. The following day, the Government invited 300 Francophone candidates in the Express Entry French language proficiency draw. Finally, on October 26, IRCC issued 3,600 ITAs in the new occupation-specific Express Entry draw for candidates working in healthcare occupations. Including these three draws, Canada invited 95,221 candidates this year.

From June 2023, IRCC initiated a category-based selection under the Express Entry system, selecting applicants based on specific skills and experience. Current categories include French-language proficiency, healthcare occupations, STEM occupations, trade occupations, transport occupations, and agriculture and agri-food occupations. Additionally, the Government of Canada continues inviting skilled candidates through the PNP, Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and regular all-program immigration draws. Whether you have skills and experience in healthcare, STEM, trade, transport or agriculture and agri-food occupations, Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers can guide you through the process and help you maximize your potential in the application. Contact us today for more information. 

Canada Launched A Permanent Residency Program For Ukrainians 

On October 23, 2023, the Canadian Government made a significant move by launching a new permanent residency program tailored explicitly for Ukrainian nationals with family members residing in Canada. Applicants have a whole year to prepare and submit their applications, as the deadline is set for October 22, 2024. This initiative comes in the wake of Canada’s generous efforts to provide temporary refuge to Ukrainian nationals amidst the global crisis and aims to provide these individuals with an opportunity to make Canada their new home. 

To qualify for this program, the individuals must be Ukrainian nationals who are currently in Canada with a temporary resident status. Furthermore, they must have a family member who is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Notably, the family member can be residing either in Canada or abroad. Since March 2022, a staggering total of 198,642 Ukrainians have found a safe haven in Canada under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET).

Canada’s Staff Reduction In India To Leave Half Of The Indian Immigration Applicants In A Backlog

In a recent Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) meeting, Immigration Minister Marc Miller revealed a decrease in IRCC staff in India. This will result in only 20,000 of the projected 38,000 visas being processed by year’s end, fewer than initially expected. Reducing IRCC staff will inevitably lead to slower processing times across the board. This includes delays in the response times to enquiries from applicants or their representatives and a slower return of processed visas or passports to applicants. These slowdowns will substantially impact, as Minister Miller predicts, that approximately 17,500 Indian applications will be backlogged by 2024. 

Despite these challenges, the IRCC is committed to maintaining its operations in India. Although in-person services at Indian consulates have been paused due to the staff reduction, the processing of applications will continue. A significant portion of applications from India, precisely 89%, are processed beyond the country’s borders through IRCC’s global network. The remaining staff will be dedicated to managing urgent processing needs, visa printing tasks, risk assessment procedures, and the oversight of key partners in the immigration process. This way, IRCC aims to minimize the impact of the staff reduction on applicants and their families.

IRCC Strengthens The International Student Program To Ensure The Safeguarding Of International Students 

On October 27, 2023, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, announced plans to reinforce the International Student Program. From December 1, 2023, post-secondary designated learning institutions (DLI) will be required to verify every applicant’s acceptance letter with IRCC to prevent fraud. The Canadian Government will introduce a new “recognized institution” framework in the fall of 2024 to prioritize institutions with superior services for international students. IRCC will also reassess the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program to align it with the Canadian labour market and immigration goals.

The reforms aim to maintain the benefits international students bring to Canada by ensuring the program’s integrity and deterring fraudulent actors. IRCC will select Canadian educational institutions providing strong support for international students and prioritize their applicants. In June, IRCC formed a task force to investigate fraudulent admissions letters and protect genuine students. Among 103 cases reviewed, 63 were genuine students. The task force awaits further cases pending decisions from the Immigration and Refugee Board. IRCC will continue to work with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) against those exploiting genuine students.

More Individuals From Hong Kong Are Moving To Canada As IRCC Relaxes Immigration Rules

Canada’s pivotal move to drop educational requirements for the work experience stream of the permanent residence pathway for Hong Kong residents has led to a dramatic increase in applications. In fact, there was a 70% surge in applications in August compared to July. This policy change, aimed at greater inclusivity and tapping into a diverse pool of applicants, is seen as a positive step. With a focus on harnessing the skills and untapped potential of talented individuals from Hong Kong, Canada intends to fill any existing labour gaps with these experienced and skillful workers. This policy change, directly responding to the recent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, highlights Canada’s commitment to democratic values and human rights.

Canada provides two distinct pathways for permanent residence tailored explicitly for residents of Hong Kong. The first pathway is designed for graduates who have completed their academic studies in Canadian educational institutions. It provides a unique opportunity for Hong Kongers to extend their stay after their educational journey, fostering a deeper connection with Canada. The second pathway is ideal for those with significant work experience in the Canadian labour market. This pathway acknowledges the invaluable contributions and skills these individuals bring to the Canadian workforce and offers a chance for them to make Canada their permanent home.

Ottawa Announced New Measures To Support Moroccan Nationals Affected By The Earthquake 

Canada is expediting the processing of temporary and permanent residence applications for those affected by the tragic earthquake in Morocco. On October 26, 2023, IRCC announced that Moroccan nationals currently in Canada can extend their study, work, or family visit status at no cost, effective October 19, 2023. This includes visa applications for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as ongoing refugee resettlement applications. These measures will occur from October 19, 2023, to March 12, 2024. 

These special measures are aimed at those in Canada as of September 8, when the earthquake occurred, intending to simplify the extension of temporary status or transitions between different temporary streams. The Government of Canada waived the need to hold a passport or travel document for the approval of a permanent resident visa, also eliminating all fees for temporary passports, limited-validity passports, emergency travel documents, Canadian citizenship certificates, and permanent resident travel documents for Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Morocco.

Spousal Sponsorship Approvals Increased Nearly 20% Compared To 2022, Despite A Decrease In August

The spousal sponsorship program in Canada, a key initiative aimed at family unification, experienced a significant 22.7% decline in monthly arrivals during August. This comes after a period of stable numbers in the preceding months of June and July. The data provided by IRCC shows that the figures fell from 6,230 to 4,815. Despite this noticeable decrease, the cumulative count of new permanent residents who have arrived in the country through the program by the end of August remains robust at 54,835. Impressively, this represents a 19.3% increase compared to the same period in the previous year, 2022. 

Should these trends continue to follow their current trajectory, Canada will welcome a considerable number of 82,252 new permanent residents through the spousal sponsorship program by the end of this year. This figure nearly achieves Ottawa’s ambitious target of accepting 84,000 individuals through this program. Regarding geographical distribution, Ontario emerged as the province with the highest number of arrivals. A total of 28,810 spouses have made Ontario their new home during the first eight months of the year, further enhancing the cultural diversity of the region.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers provide comprehensive legal advice tailored to each client’s unique situation and strive to make the transition as smooth as possible, assisting with everything from visa applications to permanent residency. If you are planning to move to Canada and need assistance, our immigration lawyers can guide you through the process. Contact us or book an appointment to increase your immigration prospects.

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.