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WES Weekly Roundup March 22, 2023

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World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.

Canada announces extension of post-graduation work permits for up to 18 months to retain high-skilled talent (IRCC) 

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada recently announced an 18-month extension for Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders. As of April 6, 2023, the Open Work Permit will be extended for individuals whose PGWP expires this year. This also includes permit holders whose permits may have expired in 2022 and applied for IRCC's Open Work Permit extension last year. Canada relies on the experience of a skilled workforce to ensure economic resiliency and to address chronic labour shortages. These measures will enable permit holders to gain additional work experience. Those with expired permits will need to restore their status and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting a renewed permit application. At the end of 2022, Canada hosted 800,000 international students; a record. Based on current data, nearly 98,000 PGWP became permanent residents, accounting for 82 percent of all temporary residents who became permanent residents. According to IRCC, about 127,000 PGWPs are set to expire in 2023, with 67,000 PGWP holders having already applied for permanent residency and not seeking an extension through this initiative.

Express Entry: Canada holds largest all-program draw ever (CIC News)

In the most recent Express Entry draw of 2023, IRCC issued invitations to 7,000 candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 490. This is the highest draw, beating out the previous 5,500 candidates invited on January 18. In the all-program draw, candidates were considered from all three categories of the Express Entry programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). This draw breaks the pattern of program specific draws that have been occurring throughout 2023. Between July and November of 2022, each draw was an all-program draw that invited over 1,000 candidates. Starting December 2020 and throughout 2021, all-program draws were paused to ease the backlog caused by COVID-19 related travel restrictions and border closures.

Refugee Resettlement

Out of the shadows: A proposal for the regularization of migrants without status in Canada (CERC)

Within the Immigration Minister's mandate is a call to build on existing pilot programs to explore opportunities to regularize the status of undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities. Although more comprehensive data is needed on the demographics of migrants without status in Canada, available information notes that many enter as tourists, temporary work permit holders, international students, and refugee claimants. Given Canada's multi-step migration pathways, loss of legal status ensues in a variety of ways including expiration of temporary visas, refusal of claimant applications, and unauthorized work. However the loss of status, a lack of legal status increases the vulnerability of these individuals in the Canadian labour market and society at large. Precarious status leads to an increased risk of labour exploitation, negative impacts to physical and mental health and limits access to key public services including federally funded settlement services. Through analysis of existing Canadian regularization programs and those in the European Union, the following two-pronged framework is proposed:

  • Regularization: Enable eligible foreign nationals residing in Canada without legal status to obtain permanent residency status. 
  • Status Transition: Reduce the future incidence of non-status migrants by enabling a transition from temporary workers to permanent residents.  

Click here to read WES' recommendations for an equitable regularization program.

External Processing: A Tool to Expand Protection or Further Restrict Territorial Asylum? (Migration Policy Institute)

As the international community works to coordinate humanitarian efforts in response to global migration crises, ensuring safe and timely programs should be a priority for policymakers. Despite garnering praise for ongoing resettlement initiatives, many countries including Canada continue to face on the ground obstacles that lead to increased processing wait times and backlogs. This has contributed to renewed interest in utilizing external processing management as a measure to ensure the most vulnerable have speedy access to safety. External processing may occur in a displaced person's country of origin or in third countries. Most common external management models are typically featured as humanitarian visas, emergency evacuation mechanisms, and external processing centers.  Similarly, Canada's Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) grants a temporary visa, allowing Ukrainian nationals to apply for an open work permit. However, such programs typically have more restrictive eligibility criteria and are limited to a specific displaced population and not applied to all resettlement pathways. In order to ensure safer and more coordinated efforts to resettlement, experts call for the launch and expansion of innovative external processing models.

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