Immigration News June 6

Canada announced clarifications for H-1B Visa Holders

On June 5, 2024, the Government of Canada clarified the public policy measures for H-1B work visa holders. July 16, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada implemented a temporary public policy allowing certain American H-1B work visa holders to be exempt from work permit requirements, aiming to facilitate open work permits for these visa holders and their families residing in the US. The policy, which reached its application cap of 10,000 and expired on July 17, 2023, is no longer accepting new applications. However, two additional public policies were subsequently enacted on September 27, 2023, and December 16, 2023, introducing further measures. These include processing applications exceeding the initial 10,000 cap if submitted within the specified period, continuing to permit family members to apply for H-1B open work permits beyond the initial policy’s expiry, and until September 28, 2024. Furthermore, minor children (17 and under) of H-1B visa holders are exempt from the $150 study permit processing fee upon arrival in Canada, given that they have an open work permit and applied for their study permit before September 28, 2024. Lastly, the policies facilitate work permit renewals for foreign nationals in Canada with H-1B open work permits valid for less than three years, allowing them to extend up to the full three-year maximum of this permit category, provided their extension application is received before December 16, 2024.

The CILA has called for an immigrant bill of rights and an Ombudsperson to enhance Canada’s immigration system

The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) has called on the Canadian government to establish an immigrant bill of rights and appoint an Ombudsperson to improve the immigration system. The proposal is part of CILA’s “Let’s Clean Up Our Act” report, which prioritizes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The association believes these changes will enhance the experience for newcomers and streamline the process by addressing system gaps and reducing bureaucratic barriers. The proposed Ombudsperson will ensure accountability and provide a voice for immigrants, while the Bill of Rights will outline public expectations of fairness, transparency, and responsiveness.

Immigrants in Canada addressing labour shortages and fostering business creation

Immigration has significantly reduced Canada’s labour shortages, with a 39.7% fall in unfilled jobs over the past two years. The number of vacant positions dropped from 990,900 in Q2 2022 to 597,725 by March this year. The influx of immigrants counters the effects of an ageing population and low birthrate while contributing to the economy via taxes and spending. Immigrants are a vital part of the workforce in sectors like food services, transportation, and construction, thanks to economic immigration programs and the Express Entry system. One-third of Canadian business owners are immigrants, particularly in software, dental services, and restaurants. The Start-Up Visa program enables foreign nationals to set up businesses in Canada, further stimulating economic growth.

IRCC data indicates a decrease in spousal sponsorship immigration

According to recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), there has been a significant drop in spousal sponsorship immigration. The data reveals a 12.8% drop in March, marking a second consecutive month of decline. After a 21.7% decrease in February, the immigration program saw only 4,810 spouses and common-law partners become new permanent residents in March, compared to 5,515 in February. The first quarter of the year saw a total of 17,235 new permanent residents under this program, a 31.6% decrease compared to the same period last year. If this current trend continues, it is projected that there will only be about 69,300 new permanent residents through this program by the end of the year, a 7.9% decrease compared to the previous year.