1. Special Measures for Iranian, Turkish and Syrian Nationals

On February 23, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) announced special measures to support Iranian temporary residents during the civil unrest in their home country. Effective March 1, 2023, special measures included extensions of temporary resident status and the ability to move between temporary resident classes (i.e., from a visitor to a worker).  Additional information about these measures, which are set to expire on February 28, 2024, can be found here.

On March 29, 2023, IRCC announced additional, similar measures for Turkish and Syrian individuals who were affected by the two major earthquakes hit the south-eastern Turkiye and Syria area on February 6, 2023. These measures set to expire on September 25, 2023, are explained here in greater detail.

2. Ontario Doubling Provincial Nominees

On March 18, 2023, the Ontario government announced that a 2-year plan to double nominees of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, also known as the provincial nominee program (PNP). This program allows the Ontario government to nominate individuals, including foreign workers, international students, business owners, and entrepreneurs, for permanent residence. In 2021, there were 9,000 nominations for permanent residence in Ontario. In 2023, the province will be able to nominate 16,500 individuals, and by 2025, this number will go up to 18,361. You can find more information here.

If you are interested in immigrating to Ontario or are curious to learn more about this program, do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

3. Federal Strike Causes Delays

In April 2023, the union of more than 155,000 federal public service workers across Canada took strike action as their union representatives advocated for better wages to keep up with inflation. As a result, there was a brief albeit significant interruption in federal government services including immigration.

Processes concerning both immigration and citizenship were affected due to the strike with delays and disruptions in each of the following areas:

    • Hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada;
    • Access to Information Act requests;
    • Citizenship events (including citizenship ceremonies);
    • Some citizenship and passport services outside of Canada;
    • IRCC client support centre and webform response times;
    • In-Canada immigration-related appointments (such as interviews); and
    • Immigration application processing times.

As well as many others listed here.

Though the strike has since been resolved, processing times have remained lengthy depending on the type of application you may have submitted. Should you have any questions about your application, please contact our office.

4. Exciting Passport Updates

On May 10, 2023, the federal government announced a new design for the Canadian passport. Revamped with new artwork and security features are projected to be available to Canadians renewing their passports as early as summer 2023.

Another exciting update announced was that, starting fall 2023, Canadians will have the option to skip the line at the passport office and submit their passport renewal applications online. Find out more here!

5. 13 More countries get Visa-Free Travel to Canada

The government of Canada announced that, starting June 6, 2023, travelers from the following countries can now apply for an eTA instead of a visa when travelling to Canada by air:

    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Argentina
    • Costa Rica
    • Morocco
    • Panama
    • Philippines
    • St. Kitts and Nevis
    • St. Lucia
    • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Seychelles
    • Thailand
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • Uruguay

Broadly speaking, visa-free travel applies to anyone who has either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently holds a valid United States non-immigrant visa. Those who are not eligible for an eTA, or travel to Canada by means other than air—including cruise ship passengers—will still need a visitor visa. You can read the full announcement here.

6. Post-Graduation Work Permits Extended for up to 18 Months

IRCC announced that, as of April 6, 2023, foreign nationals with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permit (“PGWP”) will be able to extend their work permit for an additional 18 months. This announcement allows some foreign nationals with expired work permits to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period. These individuals receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application. Find out more here.

7. Express Entry – Category-based Rounds of Invitations

An important change for those interested in applying for permanent residence, IRCC has begun issuing Invitations to Apply for permanent residence for specific categories of Express Entry candidates rather than merely conducting general draws. This significant change has been made to empower IRCC with the ability to invite certain occupations to achieve Canada’s identified economic goals.

For 2023, the following categories have been selected:

    1. Foreign nationals with French language proficiency;
    2. Healthcare occupations;
    3. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations;
    4. Trade occupations;
    5. Transport occupations; and
    6. Agriculture and agri-food occupations.

Other than the French-language proficiency category, which has its own set of eligibility criteria, categories 2-6 require that you:

    • have accumulated, within the past 3 years, at least 6 months of continuous work experience (in Canada or abroad) in a single occupation listed in the respective NOC table listed here; and
    • meet all of the requirements in the instructions for that round.

Green and Spiegel encourages you to contact us if you believe that you are eligible under one of the categories.

8. Changes to Open Spousal Work Permits

On May 10, 2023, a temporary public policy for some foreign nationals applying under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada Class. The policy facilitates the issuance of an open work permit to foreign nationals and their accompanying dependent children who are in Canada and have submitted a complete permanent resident application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class (SCLPC) or in the Family Class as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner.

Pending applications that were received by IRCC that have not been finalized by May 10, 2023, will be processed under this public policy. You can read the full policy here.

Additionally, the Canadian government has also announced a new program that enables spousal applicants, along with other open work permit holders, whose open work permits expire between August 1, 2023, and the end of 2023, will be able to extend their work permits for an additional 18 months. See full details of this announcement here. We encourage everyone with an open work permit to check their IRCC correspondence to see if IRCC has reached out to you about this matter.

9. Canada Expands the Francophone Mobility Program to Increase Francophone Immigration

On June 15, 2023, the Honourable Sean Fraser announced the expansion of the Francophone Mobility Program, which now allows a Canadian employer to make a job offer to an eligible candidate with a moderate command of French for almost any National Occupation Classification (NOC) position apart from jobs in primary agriculture. Previously, the job being offered must have been considered high-skilled. The main eligibility requirements under the Francophone program are as follows:

    • The temporary foreign national must have a moderate language proficiency of French for oral comprehension and oral expression. This is equivalent to a level 5 of the language requirements.
    • Applicants must now provide proof that they meet these language requirements. This documentary evidence may be but is not limited to: a French evaluation test or French competencies test, a diploma or degree from a French college or university, or a document confirming studies at a French-language institution.

The expansion is currently set to last for a period of two years. More information (ou si vous voulez lire cette annonce en Français) can be found here (ici).

10. Updates To Canada’s Immigration Programs for Global Tech Talent

On June 27, 2023, the government of Canada launched their first-ever Tech Talent strategy to help fill in-demand jobs within the Canadian tech industry with global talent.

The strategy has 4 key pillars:

1. H-1B Visa Open Work Permit

IRCC has created a new three-year open work permit for United States H-1B specialty occupation visa holders, along with study and work permit options for their accompanying immediate family members. H-1B visa holders will be able to apply for this work permit as of July 16, 2023, though this measure will only run for one year, or until IRCC receives 10,000 applications from principal applicants.

2. The International Mobility Program’s New Innovation Stream

IRCC also plans to create a new Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program to address persistent labour shortages in Canada’s tech industry. IRCC is considering two types of work permits under this stream:

    • Employer-specific work permits that can last up to five years for workers who work with companies identified as contributing to Canada’s industrial innovation goals, and
    • Open-work permits that can last up to five-years for highly skilled workers in certain in-demand occupations. The Innovation Stream is slated to launch by the end of 2023
3. Improvements to Existing Programs, Including the Start-up Visa Program

IRCC will also improve existing immigration programs already used by the tech industry to recruit foreign talent. This includes allowing applicants under the Start-up Visa Program to apply for three-year open work permits, rather than the current one-year work permit tied to their start-up business. Other important changes to the Start-Up Visa program include increasing the number of spots in the program for 2024 and 2025 and making the work permits available to each member of the start-up’s entrepreneurial team, rather than only essential members. Additionally, the program will be prioritizing applications supported by committed capital or endorsed by a business incubator that is a member of Canada’s Tech Network.

4. Attracting Digital Nomads

Digital nomads can currently enter Canada for up to six months at a time on a visitor visa while working for their foreign employer. IRCC also plans to work with public and private stakeholders to determine if Canada needs new policies to attract and retain digital nomads. Digital nomads are remote workers who can work for their employer from anywhere in the world.

To learn more about the Tech Talent Strategy and find webinars concerning each pillar, click here. If you are interested in accessing any of the Strategy’s newly announced programs or measures, or any of the above-noted 2023 updates, Green and Spiegel has experienced team members who can help. Please contact us for more information and to schedule a consultation.


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