2019 was an election year in Canada and the Trudeau government was voted back in as a minority government. Recently, Prime Minister Trudeau shuffled his cabinet and appointed a new Immigration Minister: Minister Marco Mendicino. It will be interesting to see what the Canadian government and specifically, Minister Mendicino will focus on in 2020 for immigration. Now that we are in the New Year, let us reflect on some of the changes in immigration law that we saw in 2019.
IRCC Tracking Entry/Exit Dates
Canada has begun to track entry and exit dates for all travellers including Canadians, due to the passing of Bill C-21. It is expected that by June 2020, Canada will be able to track travellers using air travel, too. The purpose of tracking entry and exits is to strengthen Canadian and US borders, and will also serve to assist Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) to accurately obtain information in order to assist the department in administering the Immigration, Refugees and Protection Act, Citizenship Act and the Canadian Passport Order.
Once the initiative has been completely rolled-out, IRCC will be able to verify applicants’ travel information against applications for PR card renewals, citizenship applications, in-Canada work permit applications and so on, and will be able to determine if applicants have met their residency requirements, or possibly overstayed in Canada.
The CBSA will be sharing full names and birth dates of individuals crossing the border with their US counterparts. In addition, airlines will be required to share information about their travellers to CBSA on the traveller’s departure from Canada.
Additional information can be found here.
On December 3, 2019, IRCC announced that biometric collection centres would be available within Canada and that the in-Canada biometric exemption had ended. Foreign nationals who are eligible to apply from within Canada for temporary or permanent residence are now required to pay the fee and provide their biometrics in order to proceed with their immigration applications. The roll-out of this program has been a bumpy one, with technical glitches on IRCC’s payment site and applicants unsure of whether appointments are required (typically, yes!). We are interested to see what impact biometrics will have on immigration in 2020. For additional information on biometrics, please see our article Immigration and Mobility Update.
Luxembourg Joins International Experience Canada (IEC)
For over 60 years, Canada has been receiving youth from around the world, to live, travel and work in Canada. Foreign youth have the opportunity to experience Canadian culture and in exchange, Canadian young adults have the same opportunities abroad. The IEC program is especially helpful to Canadian employers who wish to employ more junior talent who may not be eligible under another IMP or TFW program. Luxembourg has now been added as another partner-country in this program. Citizens of Luxembourg between the ages of 18-30 may participate in the IEC program for up to 12 months. For additional information on the IEC program, please see our recent article International Experience Canada Re-Opening for 2020.
IRCC has tightened regulations regarding mandatory filings in an effort to increase efficiencies and decrease processing times. IRCC has increased the number application types that must be filed online. Some applications can still be mailed to processing centres in Canada. So far, this seems to be working: in-Canada work permit processing times have decreased by 30 days in the last few weeks. A full list of online application exemptions can be found here.
Canadian immigration law is constantly changing and updating. We are excited to see what 2020 has in-store. If there are any questions related to Canadian immigration matters, please reach out to a member of our Business immigration team.