Policy Alert: Major Immigration Developments Remaining in 2022 - Immigration Lawyer Vancouver, Canada | Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre

BlogPolicy Alert: Major Immigration Developments Remaining in 2022

7 July 2022

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Less than a year since his assuming the Office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser is continuing to make waves in the Canadian immigration world through his various speaking engagements and official Twitter account. Over the past few months, Minister Fraser has been hard at work and regularly teasing new and important policy changes that are currently being developed and implemented. Although details are still scarce, here are the major updates you need to be aware of for the second half of 2022!

The Return of Express Entry

Back in April 2022 during a speech in Saint John, New Brunswick, Minister Fraser announced that Express Entry draws will resume and new invitations to apply (ITA) will be issued under Canada’s Express Entry system in July. This was very important news because there are many people, both inside and outside Canada, who have been waiting for years for ITAs to apply for permanent residency.

On July 4, 2022 the Minister officially confirmed that Express Entry draws will resume on July 6, 2022 for the following skilled worker streams:  Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). To put this news in perspective it is helpful to recall that our government first suspended draws for the FSW and FSTP streams during the second wave of COVID-19 at the end of 2020 and then extended the pause to CEC draws by September 2021, effectively putting a halt on the entire Express Entry system for the past 10 months.

Despite the welcome news, the Minister has not shared any other details so far. Moving forward, the most intriguing question in my mind is whether the number of new ITAs being issued will return to pre-pandemic levels right away or whether the Minister will take a more cautious approach and gradually increase the number of ITAs over time. More than any other factor, this is likely the one that will have the biggest effect on how long somebody will have to wait before receiving their own ITA based on their current Comprehensive Ranking System score.

Extensions of Post-Graduation Work Permits (“PGWP”)

Citing significant labour shortages in Canada, Minister Fraser also announced in April that former international students who have expired or expiring PGWPs will be eligible to apply for a further 18-month extension as workers. This policy is intended to allow foreign workers who are already employed to continue their work in Canada and to allow expired PGWP holders to get back to work to alleviate our labour shortage issues.

Currently, we know from the Minister’s latest June 24, 2022 tweet that this new policy will apply to workers whose PGWPs expired after September 20, 2021 and those whose PGWPs will expire by December 31, 2022. Stay tuned for further news this month from the Minister for a detailed set of instructions on how this extension can be applied for and what the requirements will be.

New Pathway to Permanent Residency?

If all this news isn’t interesting enough, the Minister has also been busy teasing a new fast-track pathway to permanent residency for those already living in Canada as either international students or foreign workers. Needless to say, there are many people who are interested in such a pathway, including those who missed out on last years “Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident” (TR to PR) pathway, which was touted as a once-in-a-pandemic policy to address Canadian immigration needs during a time when we were actively discouraging immigration from outside the country – the pause on Express Entry draws is the best example of this policy in practice.

In a recent June 11, 2022 CBC article, Minister Fraser shared his plans to create a similar pathway to the TR to PR pathway but noted that it won’t be ‘identical’. I certainly hope not since there were serious issues with how the TR to PR pathway was implemented and how applications are still being processed under that pathway today.

For instance, the TR to PR pathway was unveiled with virtually no notice, which caused pandemonium for applicants who scrambled to obtain official language test results, police certificates, certified translations, and other documents and who had to rush to complete medical examinations during a pandemic. New application forms were being released specifically for this TR to PR pathway literally days before the pathway launched on May 6, 2021. Applications have also been processed slowly and the Minister has recently authorized open work permit extensions until 2024 for applicants who are waiting for decisions on their permanent residency applications.

Interested applicants for this new fast-track pathway should learn from the lessons of the past: prepare your immigration documentation, including language test results, as soon as possible and seek assistance from immigration professionals if you have any doubts about the Canadian immigration application process.

Parents and Grandparents (PGP) Program

Despite the head turning number of new policies announced in recent months, there has been one area that the Minister has been largely silent on: the return of the PGP program. Every year, tens of thousands of families wait with anticipation for the Minister’s announcements about how the PGP program will be implemented in the current year. Things like timing, documentation requirements, and the number of applications that will be received for the year are all matters of interest.

Although the Minister has been silent on the PGP program itself, on June 7, 2022 he announced improvements to Canada’s super visa program, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to remain in Canada for extended periods of time. Unlike regular visitors who are generally required to leave Canada after six months, super visa holders will now be able to stay in Canada for five years at a time without leaving and will also be eligible to apply for a further two-year extension for an unprecedented total of seven years in Canada!

Unfortunately, the improvement of Canada’s super visa program might be a precursor to disappointing news about the launch of the PGP Program in 2022. We will have to monitor further news from the Minister to see if that is the direction that his department is heading in.

With meaningful immigration policy changes being announced regularly, immigration applicants will need to be diligent to stay on top of the news. As with most things, the details of how a policy will be implemented are just as important as the intent behind the policy itself. Immigration applicants will need to be proactive in order to fully understand which policies will affect them and to make the most of upcoming and exciting opportunities.

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