Recently, Canada entered a general labour shortage. When the shortage was recognized in early April 2022, some immediate changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program were made in order to allow more workers to enter Canada. Additionally, further changes due to be enacted on April 30 were announced at the time, and those changes which will impact sectors with demonstrated labour shortages have been enacted. In order to address the labour shortage, the Government of Canada has started to update policies in order to help create more opportunities for Canadian employers to find employees. The updated policies will impact immigration to Canada later in 2022, so it is important for potential new immigrants to be aware of the policies in order to be in the best position to make a successful application.
The April 22 labour shortage update from Immigration Minister Sean Fraser featured important information on updates to Express Entry that will take place later this year. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 caused some significant changes to Express Entry, as closed borders and risk averse policies slowed travel and immigration into Canada. Canada rebounded in 2021, accepting a record number of new permanent residents, but the Express Entry system was still heavily impacted by the pandemic changes, as certain classes of applicants were no longer accepted to become permanent residents.
During much of the pandemic, applicants under the Provincial Nominee Program were issued invitations to become permanent residents. There were some applicants invited for those who applied under the Canadian Experience Class, although there were less than there had been prior to the pandemic. However, applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs were not issued invitations under Express Entry for a large portion of the pandemic because of the frequency of applications under those programs coming from outside of Canada.
This summer, Express Entry changes will happen that will help bring the Express Entry system closer to how it was prior to March 2020. Express Entry invitations for the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program, and Federal Skilled Trades Program are set to resume in early July. Although there has not been an exact date given for when invitations will resume, applicants can begin preparing knowing that invitations will begin this summer. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also indicated in the announcement that new Express Entry applications will be back to being processed within the six month service standard. Currently, processing times are above the six month service standard and the government is striving to bring these processing times back down. Processing times for specific applications can be checked on the Canadian Government website.
Immigration numbers for the first quarter of 2022 are encouraging for those who wish to come to Canada, either by work permit or express entry. Canada processed more than 156,000 express entry applications from January 1 to March 31, and more than 100,000 work permit applications in the same time period. With Express Entry opening back up, it is possible we will see even higher numbers of permanent resident and work permit applications accepted in the second half of 2022, which is great news for those who are thinking of coming to Canada.
Part of the April 22 announcement included news that is relevant for international graduates in Canada. Canada offers graduates who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions to obtain an open work permit that allows them to work in Canada via the Post Graduate Work Permit Program. The experience gained with the Post Graduate Work Permit can help holders to qualify for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class.
Beginning this summer, International student graduates who hold a valid Post Graduation Work Permit that expires in 2022 and are in Canada will be able to apply for an open work permit that will last up to 18 months. Prior to this change, the Post Graduate Work Permit was not extendable, and applicants were only able to work under the permit for the initial length granted by the permit. The government hopes this change will allow applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy, gain more valuable work experience for Express Entry applications, and help address Canada’s labour shortage. The change to the Post Graduate Work Permit will impact a large number of people, as tens of thousands of former students transition to permanent residences each year from the Post Graduate Work Permit Program. The Government estimates that around 95,000 holders of a Post Graduate Work Permit will have their permits expire during 2022, and the new changes to the program will benefit as many as 50,000 applicants.
Information regarding applications for the Post Graduate Work Permit Program extension will be available soon, as the Canadian Government has indicated that they are developing a simplified, expeditious process for this program and that more details will be available in the weeks ahead. If you are one of the 95,000 people who is eligible for another permit under this policy, be sure to continue to check for updates on how to apply if you plan on taking advantage of the program.
Garson Immigration Law and its immigration lawyers is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application. If you have any questions about an immigration application during these uncertain times, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.