Recent Canadian Immigration Program Updates – May 10, 2024

There have been important updates for several immigration programs recently, including the Parent-Grandparent Sponsorship program, the Self-Employed Program, and one related to the temporary Hong Kong Stream A and B pathways.

What are those updates and how will they affect your application? Click scroll down to find out!

Parent-Grandparent Sponsorship Program

The first update is about the parent-grandparent sponsorship program. Starting May 21, 2024, IRCC will invite 35,700 candidates from the 2020 cohort to submit an application to sponsor. This means that for 2024, IRCC again is taking from the same pool of Expressions of Interest (EOI) that were submitted in 2020 to invite candidates, and that a new round of EOIs will not be opening in 2024.

How the parent sponsorship program works in its present form is that a candidate interested in applying submits a so-called “Expression of Interest” (EOI) form to sponsor, during a specified period of time when IRCC allows the submission of EOIs in their online system. Then, at a later time, IRCC randomly selects candidates from this pool and invites them to apply. This generally occurs in rounds open once per year.

Since 2020 however, IRCC has only invited candidates from the same 2020 pool, and there has not been a new EOI submission portal opened since then. The reason for this may be seen in the numbers. In 2020, just over 200,000 EOIs were submitted when the EOI portal was open. However, IRCC has always capped parent sponsorship applications at around 20,000 per year. While it is true that they issue almost double that in invitations (this year at 35,700), they expect that invited candidates will not reply to the invitation, or since 2020 have become ineligible, or else incomplete applications will be submitted. As such, they expect to eventually accept 20,500 applications made this year, of the 35,700 invitations issued. Given this, if we divide the total EOIs submitted in 2020 by the approximately 35,700 invitations IRCC has issued each year since then, we can see it would take over five years to exhaust the current number of EOIs from the 2020 cohort.

We cannot say conclusively that IRCC does indeed intend to use up all of the 2020 EOIs first before moving on to another EOI submission portal. In fact, the invitation/application system for the parent-grandparent sponsorship program has undergone many changes over the years. In any case, it can be a harrowing experience for those who want to sponsor their parents, as they may wait for years to not only be invited to apply, but to even have a chance to submit an EOI in the first place.

However, not all hope is lost, and this is why the super visa exists. The super visa allows parents or grandparents to come to Canada to visit their families for up to five years at a time, on a 10-year visa. While not permanent, it is a way to allow families to reunite for longer periods than normal visitor visa entries typically allow.

Self-Employed Program

As of April 30, 2024, the Self-Employed Program has suspended new applications from being submitted.

The Self-Employed Program is a federal business program that allows candidates with a background in cultural or athletic activities to apply to operate their own business in Canada. “Cultural” occupations include those in the Arts, such as musicians, artists, actors, or authors. But, it also includes occupations one may not consider “cultural”, such as translators or museum curators. The basic eligibility for the program is to have at least two one-year periods of work experience under a specific NOC code related to cultural or athletic occupations (typically NOC codes starting with “5”), and to have the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada by bringing that experience into their new business.

Processing times for this program have traditionally always been very long, hovering at around 48 months. However, in recent times this has creeped up even higher and is currently sitting at 51 months. IRCC is addressing this long processing time by pausing new applications for the program, so that they can reduce the backlog, and thus the processing time, for applications submitted under this program.

This pause in new applications has been put in place until January, 2027.

New Open Work Permit Option for Hong Kong Stream A & B Applicants

Starting May 27, 2024, applicants for the Hong Kong Stream A or B permanent residence pathway may be allowed to apply for a work permit to extend and maintain their status in Canada.

The Hong Kong permanent residence pathways were opened in 2021 in response to the area’s ongoing political tensions. Although considered a “humanitarian” program, it contains elements of economic immigration, requiring candidates to have either recently graduated from an eligible Canadian post-secondary study program (Stream A) or have at least one year of Canadian work experience (Stream B). It is a temporary program set to expire in August, 2026.

One of the requirements to be eligible to apply for the program is to currently reside in Canada on a valid, legal immigration status, and to reside in Canada at the time the application is approved. As such, it is necessary for applicants to maintain and if necessary extend their status while their permanent residence application is processing.

This is where the new temporary public policy-support open work permit option comes in. While this public policy only allows a very specific set of individuals to apply, it can help immensely to keep valid status while in Canada. To be eligible for this new work permit, candidates must:

1. Have already submitted an application for permanent residence through the Hong Kong Stream A or B pathway, and

2. Have held a work permit within the last three years.

Now, one interesting thing to note about this policy is that it will remain in place for five years. With the expiry date of the permanent residence program itself set at August, 2026, we can see a difference of almost three years between the date the permanent residence program expires, and the date this temporary work permit policy expires. What this could mean is that IRCC expects that applications for permanent residence through this stream will take a while to process (one or more years), or, they plan to extend the permanent residence program itself. Or, it could be a combination both, or neither. We unfortunately don’t know the answer. But it’s noteworthy that this new work permit policy is set to expire three years after the permanent residence program itself.

I hope these program updates have been useful. If you have any questions about these or any other Canadian immigration programs, feel free to reach out to us!

Craig Lont / Associate RCIC

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