Immigration laws and policies change frequently. In order for employers to effectively utilize immigration as a tool to grow their businesses and ensure ongoing compliance with immigration rules, it is important for employers to stay up to date on changes to immigration laws and policies.

Here are ten recent changes to immigration laws and policies that employers should be aware of:

  1. On May 7, 2023, Employment and Social Development Canada stopped accepting Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications by email. Employers must register with Job Bank and file these applications through the new LMIA Online Portal that is linked to the employer's Job Bank Account. In order to obtain an account, the employer contact person must have a Canadian Social Insurance Number. Foreign companies with no personnel in Canada or that are not registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must qualify and apply for an exception from using the new LMIA Online Portal. For employers in Quebec that are also simultaneously submitting a Temporary Selection (CAQ) application to Immigration Quebec (MIFI), a copy of the LMIA application summary generated by the LMIA Online Portal must be submitted with the application.
  2. On April 26, 2023, the minimum Express Entry CRS score required to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence was 483 points, down from 507 points in the beginning of 2023. In the second half of 2023, the Government of Canada is planning to introduce criteria-specific rounds of invitations to apply, including ones based on occupation, language proficiency and Canadian education. While this change may benefit certain applicants, it will introduce even more uncertainty into the permanent residence application process. Fortunately, the Government of Canada has confirmed that they will continue to issue general invitations to apply based solely on the candidate's Express Entry CRS score.
  3. On April 6, 2023, post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders whose permits expired or will expire between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 may apply for an 18-month extension. Those who were eligible for the 2022 PGWP facilitative measure will also have the opportunity to apply for an additional 18-month work permit. Those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period, and will receive an interim work authorization while waiting for a decision on their new work permit application.
  4. On March 22, 2023, the Government of Canada announced that the deadline for Ukrainians outside Canada to apply for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) will be extended until July 15, 2023. Current CUAET holders have until March 31, 2024 to travel to Canada. Further, those who are in Canada have until March 31, 2024 to extend or adjust their temporary status, with no government application fees.
  5. On March 18, 2023, the Government of Canada announced support for Turkish and Syrian temporary residents in Canada who may be unable to return home due to the destruction caused by the earthquakes in the region. Accordingly, effective March 29, 2023, Turkish and Syrian nationals can continue to study, work or visit family by applying for an extension of their status free of charge. An open work permit pathway will be made available for Turkish and Syrian nationals already in Canada. These measures will make it easier for Turkish and Syrian nationals who wish to extend their temporary status in Canada and to move between temporary streams.
  6. On February 23, 2023, the Government of Canada announced a new temporary measure to support Iranian temporary residents in Canada. Effective March 1, 2023, Iranians in Canada may apply for an open work permit valid for up to three years.

    Similarly, on February 6, 2023, the Government of Canada extended and expanded the open work permit program for Hong Kong nationals until February 7, 2025. The open work permit program is now available to Hong Kong nationals who have graduated within the past 10 years (previously five years) from a post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad. However, the government has not relaxed the five year graduation limit for Stream B permanent residence candidates from Hong Kong.
  7. On February 10, 2023, the Government of Canada announced that the period of work experience in Canada required for a caregiver to qualify for permanent residence will be reduced from 24 months to 12 months. In addition, some spaces under the existing caregiver pathways have been reserved for caregivers who already have work experience in Canada from a previous work permit so that they are able to apply for permanent residence. This came into effect on April 30, 2023, and is retroactive for caregivers who have already applied.
  8. On January 20, 2023, the Government of Canada extended the temporary public policy to continue to facilitate access to permanent resident status for out of status construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area by one year until January 2, 2024.
  9. On January 9, 2023, the Government of Canada announced that participation in the International Experience Canada program only counts if the work permit application is approved and the foreign national comes to Canada and the work permit was issued to the foreign national at the port of entry. Previously, simply receiving a port of entry letter of introduction counted as participation in the International Experience Canada program. The International Experience Canada program allows individuals of certain nationalities between 18 and 35 years of age to obtain a work permit valid for up to two years, and certain individuals can participate in the program more than once.
  10. On December 22, 2022, the Government of Canada announced that five additional occupations were added to the Global Talent Occupations List (Category B) under the Global Talent Stream. These include: civil engineers; electrical and electronics engineers; mining engineers; aerospace engineers; and electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians. It is now much easier for employers to hire temporary foreign workers of any nationality for these and many other technology and engineering occupations, as they are exempt from the job advertisement requirement when applying for an LMIA.

The Government of Canada frequently changes immigration rules with little or no notice. We will continue to publish updates that we think would be of benefit to employers and their foreign workers so they can stay up to date and effectively manage their immigration programs. Note that some work permit and permanent residence categories are time-limited and subject to annual quotas. Employers need to plan ahead of time and have alternatives in mind should their program of choice reach its quota.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.