Canada Opens New Innovation Stream Pilot for Work Permit Applications

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has launched a two-year Innovation Stream Pilot this week. This new pilot program will allow employers participating in the Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP) to hire highly skilled foreign workers without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

An employer-specific work permit

An employer-specific work permit allows you to work in Canada under the conditions specified on your work permit.

  • the name of the specific employer you can work for
  • how long you can work
  • the location where you can work (if applicable)

Bringing Your Family With You

The spouse or common-law partner and dependent children of foreign workers will be able to obtain an open work permit, which will enable them to work for almost any Canadian employer. The Innovation Stream program is set to run for two years, ending on March 22, 2026, unless changes are made.

Innovation Stream Work Permit Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for a work permit under the Innovation Stream Pilot, applicants inside or outside Canada must

Currently, there are eight Canadian companies that can hire foreign nationals without needing an LMIA through the Innovation Stream. The list is provided below:

What is the Global Hypergrowth Project?

The Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP) to is a service powered by Innovation canada to assist Canadian businesses in scaling up quickly. The GHP offers support to a select group of Canadian companies by helping them overcome challenges such as export barriers, regulatory hurdles, and more. Each company will be paired with a dedicated advisor from a team of experts with extensive public and private sector experience.

The launch of Canada’s New Work Permit Innovation Stream Pilot marks an exciting opportunity for individuals seeking to work and contribute to Canada’s innovative landscape. At Agnihotri Immigration Consulting (AIC), we are thrilled to offer our expertise and support throughout the application process. Our experienced team is dedicated to assisting clients in navigating the intricacies of the Innovation Stream Pilot, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to working in Canada. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you seize this opportunity and embark on your journey to a fulfilling career in Canada.

Is Canada’s Cap on International Students Fair, or will it create further loopholes?

The Government of Canada’s recent move to put a cap on international students’ study permits for two years has evoked diverse sentiments across Canada and around the world. While some view it as an anticipated and essential step, others argue that it may adversely impact businesses and the education sector, given the significant contribution of the international student community to their sustenance.

The announcement concerns potential fee increases for domestic students by some colleges striving to offset the impact on their operations. Changes like getting an attestation letter from the province are seen as an extra administrative hurdle. The government has also decided not to give postgraduate work permits to students who come for a diploma, certificate or undergraduate program.

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, Defended the cap as a necessary move because rapid increases in the number of international students have put pressure on housing, health care, and other services_ He also said the changes were necessary “to better protect international students from had actors and support. Sustainable population growth in Canada.”

Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre called the cap justified but said it would not control the damage already done. He blamed the government for unleashing the chaos in the system by inviting students without doing homework to ensure enough housing, Infrastructure, and credible education institutions.

Neera Agnihotri, a volunteer with One Voice Canada and an immigration consultant, highlighted the strain on major cities like Toronto. Vancouver. Quebec. and Calgary. She argued that the uncontrolled influx of international students coupled with rising immigration targets has jeopardized housing, healthcare, and infrastructure services, impacting students and compromising affordability for locals.

Brampton City Council unanimously passed a motion calling the federal government to require international student visas to include a housing address consistent with local by-laws as a component of the approval process.

KEY CHANGES AND IMPLICATIONS

The first change is the limit on study permits_ Canada is expected to approve approximately 360,000 study permits, reduced from nearly 560,000 issued in 2023, a decrease of 35%. This will directly impact the number of international students enrolling in education institutions. A group of 24 colleges in Ontario has also said in a statement that this rushed decision will create havoc for students, the labor market, and the reputation of good colleges. “The federal government failed to recognize that public colleges have a year-round intake of students, designed specifically to meet employer needs. Colleges work year-round, as the demand for more people in the labor market is year-round; that means there are students already well into the application process, ready to start in May in programs for key sectors of Ontario’s economy.” Indian students are poised to bear the impact as they constitute the largest cohort of international students in Canada in recent years. Media reports indicate that in 2022, more than 41%, totaling 225835 permits, were granted to Indian students.

NO WORK PERMIT FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

There will be a cap on the number of students coming to each province. IRCC will allocate a portion of the cap to each province and territory, who will then distribute the allocation among their designated learning institutions. To implement the cap as of January 22, 2024, every study permit application submitted to IRCC will also require an attestation letter from a province or territory. Provinces and territories are expected to establish a process for issuing attestation letters to students no later than March 31, 2024. The Ontario College group called it a new and unexpected administrative hurdle that is halting all student visa processing right now, “as the provincial government currently has no process for generating such letters.”

Also, starting September 1, 2024, International students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer be eligible for a postgraduate work permit upon graduation. Under curriculum licensing agreements, students physically attend a private college that has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college. These programs have seen significant growth in attracting international students in recent years, though they have less oversight than public colleges and they act as a loophole with regards to postgraduate work permit eligibility.” the minister said.

Neera Agnihotri says that not giving work permits to undergraduate students will certainly limit the number of students coming to Canada. Gaining international experience is one of the important aspects of studying in a different country. “Students who have spent thousands of dollars to study and get work permits will not be eligible for it. Many would look to get LIMAs”. She warns students to be aware of exploitation since they might get lured to pay extra to get LMIA.

Ontario colleges in a statement have also expressed concerns about undergraduate students not able to work after diplomas or certificates. “College graduates full key needs across sectors that include advanced manufacturing, mining, the electric vehicle industry, early childhood, health care, housing construction, and others that our economy depends on.”

The exemptions for the students in master’s and Ph.D. programs don’t reflect the current and future demands in the Ontario labor market. For Example, 60 percent of the current vacancies in health care in Ontario are for college graduates. The colleges are proposing exemptions for students in high-demand programs – not just for masters and Ph.D. students.

NO WORK PERMIT FOR SPOUSES

The government has also announced that open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of studies, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

THE GOOD NEWS

The cap announcement may have strangled the hopes of many students planning to study in Canada, but there is good news. First, these are all temporary measures that will be in place for two years. Also, the government has made it clear that with this announcement, study permit renewal will not be impacted. Those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees and elementary and secondary education are not included in the cap. Current study permit holders will not be affected. The minister said, ” In the coming months, we will continue to work to provide clear pathways to permanent residence for students with in-demand skills and explore new measures to transition international students to the labor force better.”

As the nation adapts to these changes, the next two years will be crucial in assessing the effectiveness and consequences of this policy shift. In the end, it is important to note that the minister’s one-size-fits-all announcement should not become a blunt instrument to damage the good actors in college education and not do much to rein in the bad actors.

News by Surbhi Gogia on The Link Paper, Published on Saturday Jan 27, 2024

BC PNP transition to NOC 2021

On Nov. 16, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is switching to the 2021 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, known as NOC 2021.

Skilled Immigration under BC PNP is further divided into five components:

  • Skilled Workers;
  • Health Authority;
  • International Graduates;
  • International Post-Graduates, and;
  • Entry-level and semi-skilled workers.

British Columbia will temporarily shut down online registration for its Skills Immigration (SI) category starting in mid-October as it switches to using the latest National Occupational Classification (NOC) system.

Express Entry Applications From Nov. 16 Will Need To Include New NOC 2021 Codes

“If you plan to submit an Express Entry profile on or after Nov. 16, you must search for your occupation under the NOC 2021 list on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website (and) submit your Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category and five-digit occupation code when filling out your profile,” notes the federal government website.

Those who have already submitted a profile but have not been sent an ITA must:

  • search for their occupation under the NOC 2021 list on the ESDC website, and;
  • update their profile with their TEER Category and five-digit occupational code.

The new NOC is being phased in gradually “to provide organizations and programs with enough time to make a proper transition from NOC 2016 to NOC 2021.”

A nationally-recognized and standardized system used by the IRCC to evaluate the work experience of applicants for immigration, the choice of the right NOC code is one of the most important parts of an application for immigration.

Canada’s Immigration minister executes to racing up work permit processing

Canada’s immigration minister restated his promise to improve processing times for work permits during meetings with the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Last week, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told the committee that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would use its $85 million budget to reduce processing times that the pandemic has exacerbated. The minister had previously announced that service standards for work permits, study permits, proof of citizenship, and permanent residence card renewals would return to normal by the end of 2022.

The IRCC webpage estimates processing times for work permits submitted from most countries are currently not meeting the processing standard. Nonetheless, IRCC is processing a higher level of work permits. In 2021, Canada issued some 420,000 under the International Mobility Program (IMP) and Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In 2019, the total was about 405,000.

The TFWP allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill labor shortages in Canada. The IMP promotes Canada’s broad economic, social, and cultural interests.

The processing standard for work permits submitted outside of Canada is 60 days, except for International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits, which are supposed to be processed in 56 days. Work permit extensions submitted in Canada have a processing standard of 120 days. Before the pandemic, IRCC met these standards more than 87 percent of the time. However, official data on how often IRCC met its service standards in 2020-2021 have not yet been released.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, IRCC operations worldwide halted operations. The result eventually led to a backlog in applications. As of February 1, IRCC has more than 85,000 work permit applications in its inventory.

IRCC Assistant Deputy Minister Daniel Mills was also at the committee meeting. Mills said in French that the $85 million budget would not improve processing times for permanent residents. Still, it will allow IRCC to develop tools such as electronic application systems and online application trackers. Minister Fraser had previously noted that processing for new spousal sponsorship applications has returned to the one-year standard.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is a group of Canadian politicians from major political parties that conduct studies and offer policy recommendations on improving the immigration system.

The importance of fast work permit processing

According to the latest job vacancies report, Canada had nearly 900,000 job openings this past November. Immigration has long been touted as a strategy to support labor market growth in Canada.

Since employers in specific industries have long demonstrated a consistent need for foreign talent, some work permits have expedited processes for workers in specific sectors. The Global Talent Stream, for example, has a processing standard of 10 business days. It is meant for employers in the tech sector to onboard foreign talent.

The LMIA is required for the hiring of some foreign nationals. The Canadian government may require a labor market test to demonstrate that a worker in Canada is unavailable to do the job. In addition, Canada offers fast-tracked LMIA processing for the GTS and Quebec facilitated occupations list.

In 2021, about one-quarter of work permits granted required an LMIA. The remaining 75 percent did not require an LMIA.

Staying in Canada

If workers apply to extend their status before their work permit expires, they can stay in Canada on a maintained level until IRCC decides. Then, they are allowed to work under the same conditions as their work permit, staying in Canada while waiting. The maintained status could also apply to study permit holders and visitors applying to extend their temporary status.

If the worker applies for permanent residence, they may be able to get a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP), which will allow them to stay in Canada until their application is processed.

Canada to inform Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 by February

The Canadian government will provide a significant update by February when it announces its Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024.

The announcement will contain Canada’s immigration targets for this year and the next two years, as well as the number of new immigrants Canada will seek to welcome under its various economic, family, and humanitarian class programs. It will be the first such announcement since Canada made the surprise announcement in October 2020 it would seek to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year moving forward, or about 40,000 more per year than its previous targets.

Under Canada’s primary immigration law, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the federal government must announce by November 1st of each year when Parliament is sitting. If Parliament is not sitting, the announcement must be made within 30 sitting days of Parliament reconvening.

The announcement usually occurs by November 1st of each year, but it did not happen in 2021 since the Canadian government dissolved Parliament due to its September election. Following the election, a new session of Parliament began on November 22nd.

Parliament sat for 20 days before taking a holiday break. It will reconvene on January 31st, which means immigration minister Sean Fraser must make the new levels plan announcement by Friday, February 11th at the latest. The Canadian government has announced the deadline in recent history and has rarely reported it earlier unless the deadline fell on the weekend. If this remains the case this year, the announcement will likely occur in the second half of the week of February 7.

Of note is that the Canadian government will also very likely table a second levels plan this year by November 1st. However, the regularly scheduled announcement will be the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. It will go ahead as planned, barring the improbable scenario the Canadian government decides to hold an election for the second consecutive year.

Under the current Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will welcome 411,000 new permanent residents to Canada this year. In 2021, IRCC achieved its goal of landing 401,000 immigrants, the highest level in Canadian history. IRCC made the target last year amid the challenging pandemic environment by transitioning temporary residents currently living in Canada to permanent residence.

The current plan aims to welcome 241,500 economic class immigrants to Canada this year through Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program, Quebec’s programs, among other pathways. This accounts for 59 percent of Canada’s immigration target.

IRCC is looking to welcome 103,500 family class immigrants through the Spouses, Partners, and Children Program and the Parents and Grandparents Program. This is 26 percent of IRCC’s immigration target.

The remaining 66,000, or 15 percent of the newcomer target, will be welcomed to Canada on refugee and humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

These proportions have been sustained since the mid-1990s when the Canadian government decided to focus admissions on economic class arrivals to help alleviate the economic and fiscal challenges arising from Canada’s aging population and low birth rate. This year’s plans are likely to stick closely to these proportions.

However, what may change is the total number of immigrants Canada chooses to target in the coming years. On the one hand, the Canadian government may be satisfied with their already ambitious targets and decide to keep them as is. This would mean simply continuing to slowly increase annual admissions now that the baseline is over 400,000 immigrants. By way of comparison, the baseline was about 250,000 immigrants annually until 2016. Another consideration is that the Canadian government may want to refrain from significant increases to tackle its backlogs, which currently stand at 1.8 million permanent and temporary resident applicants waiting in the queue.

On the other hand, Fraser has indicated an openness to increasing the targets even further depending on stakeholder feedback. The minister noted he would listen to community groups and employers to see whether they desire to welcome more immigrants.

One may argue that Canada’s immigration targets are already high, and the government should put the brakes on higher levels for a few reasons. For example, backlogs need to be contained, communities across the country have housing affordability issues, and historically speaking, welcoming immigrants amid periods of the economic downturn has hurt the labor force outcomes of newcomers.

Conversely, proponents of higher levels may argue that Canada needs higher levels to support its post-pandemic economic and fiscal recovery and that more immigrants are needed to alleviate labor shortages. Higher targets can also be justified on the grounds they may allow IRCC to reduce its backlogs more quickly. In addition, higher targets may be necessary to accommodate the government’s goal of resettling 40,000 Afghan refugees.

What is certain is we will not be guessing for long as the February 11 deadline is just around the corner.