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Canada Immigration Update

Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel 

As part of the Government of Canada's response to the situation in Ukraine, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has created the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for emergency travel (CUAET). This is not a refugee stream, but a bespoke process created to allow Ukrainians and their family members to come to Canada temporarily due to the crisis in that country. 

The CUAET allows Ukrainians and their family members to apply for a free visitor visa which can allow for a stay of up to three (3) years. Additional benefits include the ability to apply, free of charge, for an open work permit with their visa application and access to study permits. Applications from Ukrainaians are being prioritized, and those who are eligible for CUAET are exempt from Canada's COVID-19 vaccination entry requirements, but must meet other public health requirements for travel. Exemptions from providing upfront medicals and fee exemptions are also contemplated in the program.  

IRCC has established a dedicated service channel for Ukrainian enquiries by phone (613-321-4243) and through IRCC's webform using the keyword Ukraine2022

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Fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID test to enter Canada 

Effective April 1, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers will no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test to enter Canada by air, land or water. Travelers may still be selected for mandatory random testing on arrival to Canada. 

For partially or unvaccinated travelers who are currently allowed to travel to Canada, pre-entry testing requirements remain the same. Unless exempt, all travelers aged 5 years of older must continue to provide proof of an accepted type of pre-entry COVID-19 test result. These include: 

A valid negative antigen test, administered by an accredited lab or testing provider, taken outside of Canada no more than 1 day before their flight departure time or arrival time at a land border

  • a valid negative molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight departure or arrival at a land border
  • A previous positive molecular test taken at least 10 days days, but not more than 180 days before their schedule flight departure or arrival at the land border
All travelers must continue to submit their information in the ArriveCan app before their arrival in Canada, and those who do not may have to test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. Different rules apply to travelers on cruises. 

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US Immigration Update 

EB-5 Investor Immigrant Program - Regional Center 

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed a law that includes authority for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, that will be in effect through to September 30, 2027. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program allows investors and their spouses and unmarried children under 21 to apply for a Green Card if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified workers. This stream of the EB-5 had been on hold for several months leading up to the very welcome announcement  this month. 

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USCIS announces new efforts to increase efficiency 

On March 29, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a series of efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the legal immigration systems. 

The announcement focusses on the stated goal of reducing processing backlogs in key categories, including the I-129 (non immigrant employer petition) and I-140 (immigrant employer petition), as well as naturalization processes and family based petitions. It also includes an expansion of the Premium Processing availability to include applications to extend/change non-immigrant status applications for work authorization made from within the U.S. as well as additional classifications under the employer petitioned immigrant categories. 

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Express Entry Update March 2022 

There have been no draws from the Express Entry pool for Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Workers or Federal Skilled Trades applicants in March 2022. This marks another month without draws from the main economic immigration categories. It is unclear when draws will resume, but the Minister of Immigration has indicated that we could start to see draws resume in 'Spring 2022.' 

After many months of no draws, the Express Entry pool is swollen with highly qualified applicants waiting for an invitation to apply. We expect that when the draws resume, unless significant numbers of invitations are issued in these classes, that the CRS points required to recieve an invitation to apply will be higher than we have seen in several years. 

Post-graduate work permit holders are particularly impacted by the lack of draws and the inability to extend their work permits. We await an announcement from IRCC about relief for this group. Applicants in Canada whose work permits are expiring should consider their eligibility for extended temporary status (work and study permits) and employers whose labour force depends on foreign workers should consider options to move key workers to employer specific work permits, where possible. 
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