2021 Immigration Updates: A Year of Change - Immigration Lawyer Vancouver, Canada | Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre

Blog2021 Immigration Updates: A Year of Change

18 May 2021

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This year 2021 has already been a busy year in the immigration world. A couple of months back, we predicted that significant changes were likely coming to Canada’s immigration programs to address the challenges created by the global pandemic and to reach the high immigration targets set by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In the first five months of 2021, we have already seen historically low Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores needed to receive invitations to apply (ITAs) under the Express Entry system, as well as the creation of the Temporary Resident to Permanent Residence (TR to PR) pathway to grant permanent residency to 90,000 health care workers, designated essential workers, and recent international graduates who are already living and working in Canada. As we approach the mid-year mark in June 2021, here are other possible immigration trends and announcements to keep an eye out for.

TR to PR Pathway to Reopen?

The TR to PR pathway program was created to allow a total of 20,000 health care workers, 30,000 designated essential workers, and 40,000 recent international graduates to apply for permanent residency based on a much lower threshold of immigration requirements. At this moment, 1,342 health care workers, 8,723 designated essential workers, and 40,000 recent international graduates have already applied under the TR to PR pathway program, which is set to expire on November 5, 2021.

As my colleague, Catherine Sas, K.C., recently wrote in her blog last week, we are aware that there are TR to PR pathway applicants, especially recent international graduates, who submitted applications even though they did not meet the requirements to apply. For instance, they may have filed applications for permanent residence even though they did not have valid language test results because they were afraid of missing out on the opportunity to apply.

Based on this turn of events, it is likely that immigration officers will be reviewing and rejecting a high number of ineligible TR to PR pathway applications. If so, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) might choose to extend the time limit to make applications in the health care worker or designated essential worker categories if they do not receive enough applications by November 5, 2021 to meet the established quotas. Moreover, in the case of recent international graduates, IRCC may grant another opportunity to accept new applications to replace ineligible applications that have been rejected. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, has already made public statements that he is open to the possibility of raising the quotas for this new program.

Accordingly, international graduates should continue their efforts to gather the required information and documents to submit a TR to PR pathway application, even though the initial 40,000 allocated application spots were filled in just over one day.

Express Entry Draws for Federal Skilled Workers

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has stopped inviting Federal Skilled Workers (FSW) to apply for permanent residency through Canada’s Express Entry system. This action was taken by our government since January 2021 because the pandemic, especially with the emergence of new variants, made it unsafe to welcome new immigrants to Canada at a time when non-essential travel is discouraged.

To ensure that Canada will still meet its 2021 target of welcoming 411,000 new permanent residents, IRCC began to lower the CRS scores needed to receive ITAs under Express Entry and increased the number of ITAs issued to in-Canada candidates. This included the unprecedented draw of February 13, 2021 when 27,332 Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence based on a score of only 75 CRS points.

So far in 2021 there have been 17 draws targeting 66,475 CEC and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates, most of whom are already living in Canada. During the same period last year in 2020, there were 15 draws inviting 38,200 candidates to apply that included CEC, PNP and FSW workers.

As we continue to move forward in 2021, it will be important to stay updated on how many new ITAs are being issued. The latest Express Entry draw on May 13, 2021 invited 4,147 CEC candidates to apply for permanent residence, which represents the lowest number of invitations issued under that program category since the beginning of the year. If that trend continues, and if travel restrictions begin to ease as the number of global vaccinations rise, we could see IRCC changing course to once again issue ITAs to FSW candidates.

Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP)

With the various changes that have already been announced this year, it can be easy to forget that the PGP will also be returning later this year to allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents for Canadian permanent residency.

Last year, the PGP opened for three weeks from October 13, 2020 to November 3, 2020. During this short three-week window, Canadian citizens and permanent residents completed online interest to sponsor forms that registered them to participate in the immigration lottery. Once in the lottery, each registrant had a chance to be given one of 10,000 invitations to sponsor their parents or grandparents.

This year, the PGP will be issuing 30,000 invitations to sponsor. Given that the PGP opened for business in the fall of last year, and since new programs like the TR to PR pathway have created a new backlog of applications that Canadian immigration officers need to process, it is likely that the PGP will not open in 2021 until the fall.

Since the onset of the global pandemic, IRCC has made significant policy changes and created innovative programs to protect the safety and wellbeing of Canadians while also ensuring that our immigration targets will be met. We should expect more changes throughout the remainder of 2021 and all those who are interested in applying for permanent residency should prepare their documents and information in advance so that they can benefit from any upcoming changes or new programs. Stay up-to-date with the latest immigration news by visiting our blog: https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/category/blog/

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