In the first half of 2023, Canada has witnessed several significant changes and updates in its immigration policies. These developments have far-reaching implications for individuals seeking to immigrate to Canada, temporary residents, and even those currently residing in the country. Let’s delve deeper into the 10 major Canadian immigration updates for the mid-year:
1. Special Measures for Nationals from Iran, Turkey, and Syria
The Canadian government introduced special measures to support Iranian temporary residents amid civil unrest. Similar measures were extended to Turkish and Syrian nationals affected by earthquakes in their respective countries. These measures include extensions of temporary resident status and flexibility in switching between temporary resident classes.
2. Ontario’s Nominee Program Expansion
Ontario announced a bold two-year plan to double the nominations granted through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). This program enables the province to nominate foreign workers, international students, business owners, and entrepreneurs for permanent residence. The expansion aims to welcome a higher number of newcomers, making Ontario an even more attractive destination.
3. Federal Strike Causes Delays
In April 2023, over 155,000 federal public service workers across Canada went on strike, leading to disruptions in various government services, including immigration and citizenship. Delays were observed in hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, access to information requests, citizenship ceremonies, and more. Although the strike has ended, processing times remain impacted in certain cases.
4. Passport Updates
Canada unveiled a new passport design featuring updated artwork and enhanced security features. Canadians can look forward to online passport renewal options, allowing for greater convenience and efficiency.
5. Visa-Free Travel Expansion
The Canadian government expanded visa-free travel privileges, starting from June 6, 2023, for travelers from 13 countries. These travelers can apply for Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs) instead of traditional visas when flying to Canada. This change simplifies travel requirements and fosters international connections.
6. Extended Post-Graduation Work Permits
The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced an important change in April 2023. Foreign nationals with recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permits can now extend them for an additional 18 months. This extension helps restore status, even for those beyond the 90-day restoration period.
7. Express Entry’s Category-Based Invitations
IRCC implemented a new approach to issuing Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence. Rather than general draws, ITAs are now category-specific, targeting candidates with experience in specific occupations. Categories include healthcare, STEM, trade, transport, and agriculture, among others.
8. Changes to Open Spousal Work Permits
In May 2023, a temporary public policy was introduced for foreign nationals applying under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class. It facilitates open work permits for foreign nationals and their dependent children. Open work permit holders whose permits expire between August 1, 2023, and the end of 2023 can extend their work permits for an additional 18 months.
9. Expansion of Francophone Mobility Program
The Francophone Mobility Program was expanded in June 2023, allowing Canadian employers to offer jobs to candidates with moderate French language proficiency in various National Occupation Classification (NOC) positions. This expansion encourages greater Francophone immigration, contributing to Canada’s linguistic diversity.
10. Tech Talent Strategy for Global Talent
Canada launched a comprehensive Tech Talent strategy in June 2023 to address labor shortages in the tech industry. The strategy includes initiatives like an H-1B Visa Open Work Permit, the International Mobility Program’s Innovation Stream, and improvements to existing programs. These measures aim to attract global tech talent, boost innovation, and make Canada a tech hub.
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