Author: Melissa Babel, B.A. (Hons) LL.B, Barrister and Solicitor at Babel Immigration Law
Express Entry Update Summer 2022 – We’re Back!
In July 2022, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship resumed draws from the Express Entry pool of candidates. Since then, we have seen semi-regular draws from the pool for all categories – including Federal Skilled Workers, Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominees and Federal Skilled Trades. However, with the CRS Points remaining high, it is unlikely that many applicants in the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades groups have been invited unless they are also in Canada with job offers from Canadian employers.
The rounds of invitation have been steadily climbing in number. However, these are small numbers and if the Minister continues to invite smaller groups of applicants, it could still be a long time before many highly qualified candidates are invited to apply.
Post-Graduate Work Permit Extensions – Finally we have a Policy!
While it is much delayed, we now have a temporary public policy in place to address the impact on International Students and Post-Graduate Work Permit (“PGWP”) holders from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lack of Invitations To Apply (“ITA”) for permanent residence under the Express Entry system. Eligible international graduates with post-graduate work permits that are or will be expiring within the allowable time frame may be eligible to apply for an extension that would provide for an additional open work permit for 18 months.
This public policy will be in effect until December 31, 2022.
US Immigration Update
USCIS Extends COVID-19 related Flexibilities
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending certain COVID-19-related flexibilities through October 23, 2022. Under these flexibilities, USCIS considers a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date for requests or notices issued between March 1, 2020, and October 23, 2022 for the following types of requests:
- Requests for Evidence (RFE)
- Continuation to Request Evidence
- Notices of Intent to Deny
- Notices of Intent to Revoke
- Notices of Intent to Rescind
- Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers
- Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status and
- Motions to Reopen certain N-400 application
USCIS Updates Guidance for O-1 Petitions with a Focus on STEM Fields
On July 22, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its policy manual to provide further guidance on supporting evidence for a petition for an O-1A non-immigrant of extraordinary ability with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant (temporary) worker visa granted to an alien of possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This additional guidance will help petitioners and applicants to strengthen their requests for this highly discretionary work permit, and also adds transparency to the assessment process by USCIS.