Canada: Top 5 Canadian Immigration Updates So Far This Year

1. Biometrics requirements

Giving up your fingerprints and a photograph before entering Canada has become the new norm for most foreign nationals who are applying for a Canadian Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), Work Permit, Study Permit, Permanent Residence, or Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).

Since July 31, 2018, foreign nationals from Europe, Africa and the Middle East are required to provide biometrics. The requirement will be subsequently phased in for all foreign nationals from Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Americas on December 31, 2018. Note that biometrics will not be required if you are submitting an application inside Canada for a TRV, Work Permit, Study Permit, Permanent Residence, or TRP, although this is likely to change in 2019. According to the Canadian Government, the new biometrics requirement will allow the Government to better establish the identity of foreign nationals and enhance the health, safety, and security of Canadians.

Not everyone will need to provide biometrics. For example, visa-exempt nationals entering Canada as tourists who are Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) holders will not be required to provide biometrics. US Nationals are exempt too, unless they are applying for Permanent Residence status. Persons under the age of 14 and over the age of 79 are also not required to provide biometrics.

Although some foreign nationals may provide their biometrics at specified Canadian ports of entry, a list of which can be found here, many foreign nationals will need to provide biometrics at an overseas Visa Application Centre. Biometrics will remain valid for ten years and will cost $85 CAD per person to apply.

 For a more detailed analysis of the biometrics requirements, please visit  our blog.

 2. Express Entry

So far this year, Express Entry candidates hoping to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian Permanent Residence required, at the lowest end of the spectrum, a CRS score of 440. For most of the recent Express Entry draws, however, the minimum required CRS score required hovered in the mid-440 range and climbed to as high as 456.     

The most significant change to the Express Entry system is that the deadline to submit an electronic application for Permanent Residence is now 60 calendar days after receiving an ITA. Previously, the deadline was 90 calendar days.

3. Phasing out medical inadmissibility

This is significant for foreign nationals who have been diagnosed with medical conditions and submit applications to IRCC to enter or remain in Canada as a Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident. Even foreign nationals with immediate family members that have medical conditions can be potentially obstructed from entering Canada by the health provisions.

IRCC has, in the past, characterized these provisions as essential to reducing the impact of immigrants on the publicly funded Canadian health and social systems. IRCC has recently changed its position and has takens steps to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society.

The current medical assessment of applicants turns on whether an applicant is likely to cause "excessive demand" on Canadian health or social services. "Excessive demand" is defined as either: (i) a demand on health or social services for which the anticipated costs would likely exceed average Canadian per capital health/social services costs over a period of five consecutive years; or (ii) a demand on health/social services that would add to existing waiting lists and would increase the rate of mortality and morbidity in Canada as a result of an inability to provide timely services to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.

The average Canadian per capita cost threshold was approximately $6,604 CAD per year. As such, if an applicant's anticipated cost of health or social services per year exceeds that amount, an applicant's or their family member's health condition could have been considered an "excessive demand" and resulted in a finding of inadmissibility to Canada.

After the IRCC announcement on June 1, 2018, the cost threshold has more than tripled to $19,812 CAD per year. As a result, applicants with medical conditions are much less likely to cause "excessive demand." An inadmissibility finding may only be made if the services that a health condition may reasonably require exceed the new, much higher, cost threshold.

For additional information about medical inadmissibility and the history of the health provisions, please visit  our blog.

4. Uncertainty stemming from the Impaired Driving Act

Permanent Residents of Canada should take particular notice of this change. Although Bill C-46, known as the Impaired Driving Act, will not come into force until December 18, 2018, its impact on Permanent Residents could be immense.

One of the more significant consequences of this Bill is that a Permanent Resident of Canada convicted of a driving impaired charge or conviction abroad could face the loss of his or her Permanent Resident status with no right of appeal. In addition to Permanent Residents of Canada, foreign nationals with DUI convictions abroad trying to enter Canada may be refused admission, even if five or more years have passed since they completed their sentence and there have been no further criminal charges or convictions. For additional information about Bill C-46, please visit  our blog.

5. The 2018 Federal Budget: Immigration Priorities

The Government of Canada released the 2018 federal budget in February and it underscores priorities with respect to immigration. Foremost, the Government appears to intend to keep immigration numbers up, setting aside approximately $440 million to assist the roughly one million immigrants anticipated to make Canada home from 2018 until 2020. The Government also pledged its financial support to visible minority newcomer women in Canada, to expanding Canada's start up visa program, to supporting both of Canada's official languages, to protecting temporary foreign workers by budgeting roughly $33.19 million per year for the next five years, and to allocating $173.2 million to speed up the processing of asylum claims in 2018 and 2019.

For a more comprehensive outlining of the 2018 federal budget, please visit  our blog.

The remaining months of 2018 are sure to usher in a host of new updates. If you have any questions or you would like more information about the changes mentioned above, you can  schedule your consultation with a member of the Green and Spiegel LLP team today.

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