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Canada Immigration Update

Pathway to Permanent Residence for Essential Workers and International Students: IRCC has announced a new program that will allow 90,000 applicants apply for permanent residence. Starting on May 6, 2021, and running until November 5, 2021 or until the cap of applicants is reached, 20,000 applications from eligible health care workers, 30,000 applications for other eligible essential workers and 40,0000 applications from eligible international students will be accepted for processing. As of April 29, 2021, the complete instructions for filing have not been released, but it is expected that applicants will submit through an online portal and will need to submit a complete application (not an expression of interest) in order to be considered. Three additional streams with no intake cap have also been launched for French-speaking or bilingual candidates.

Babel Immigration Law is still taking a limited number of cases under this category. If you are interested in applying please reach out soon as there is a cap and a timeline for submitting and eligible application. 

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Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Update:  On April 28, 2021, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program opened its Expression of Interest ("EOI") system today for the Employer Job Offer Category for Foreign Worker and International Student Streams. This is a great move forward to modernizing the OINP system, and a step away from the "first-come-first-served" application process that has dominated this program for years. The Expression Of Interest system will remain open throughout the year and eligible applicants can register an EOI at any time. It's important to note that registering an Expression of Interest does not guarantee that an applicant will be invited to apply to the OINP. It is expected that the other OINP streams (Employer Job Offer - In-Demand Skills, Masters Graduates and PhD Graduate) will also have access to an EOI system shortly. More details to follow. 

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Extension of Travel Restrictions: Canada has extended the travel restrictions and Mandatory Isolation Order for all travelers seeking entry into Canada until May 21, 2021, including travelers from the U.S. These restrictions may be extended at any time. Hotel quarantine requirements remain in place for non-essential air travelers to Canada. COVID-testing requirements remain in place for land borders and air travel. 

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US Immigration Update 

USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Deference to Previous Decisions: On April 27, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued policy guidance to its officers to give deference to prior determinations on visa issuance when adjudicating extension requests involved the same parties and facts, in the absence of a material change in facts. This announcement is a substantive change from the 2017 instructions, and a return to the previous approach of having officers consider the initial approval of a visa when assessing an application to extend the visa status. This is scene as a positive move in the adjudication process for non-immigrant visas. 

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Extension of Travel Restrictions: The U.S. has extended its travel restrictions  at its land borders with Canada and Mexico through to April 21, 2021.  These restrictions do not apply to air travel. Essential travel is permitted, and includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and foreign nationals traveling to work in the United Statues. 

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Express Entry February Update
April saw five rounds of invitations issued to candidates in the Express Entry Pool. On April 1, 2021, there were 5000 invitations issued to applicants in the Canadian Experience Class with CRS points of 432 or higher. On April 14, 2021 there were 255 invitations issued to Provincial Nominee Program Applicants with CRS Points of 753 or higher. On April 16, 2021 there were 6000 invitations issued to Provincial Nominee Program Applicants with CRS Points of 417 or higher. On April 28, 2021 there were 381 invitations issued to Provincial Nominee Program Applicants with CRS Points of 717 or higher and on April 29, 2021 there were 6000 invitations issued to Canadian Experience Class applicants with CRS points of 400 or higher. 

The CRS points required for an invitation to apply have hit historic lows, and we are seeing applicants in the Canadian Experience and Provincial Nominee Classes who were previously not competitive have an opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

There have still been no rounds of invitation that include Federal Skilled Workers or Federal Skills Trades in 2021. We expect this trend to continue while COVID-19 related travel restrictions remain in place and the focus is on in-Canada applicants. 
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