There have been a number of important changes to different Canadian Immigration categories over the past few months, and we anticipate several more to come before the end of 2022. Here is a summary of some of the more significant ones (in no particular order):

1. International students: Limit on off-campus work hours temporarily lifted

From November 15, 2022 until December 31, 2023, Canada will temporarily lift the 20-hours per week limit for eligible international students working off-campus. Students will be able to work full-time and/or as many hours as they please during the school term, when previously they were only permitted to work full-time during scheduled breaks (i.e. winter, spring and summer breaks). Foreign nationals who have already submitted a study permit application, as of October 7, 2022, will also be able to benefit from this temporary change, provided their applications are approved.

This measure is intended to help tackle labour shortages by providing a new pool of labour for employers, and provide increased flexibility for students to earn more and gain more work experience while studying. The Minister estimates that more than 500,000 students already in Canada could benefit from this public policy.

The government is expected to assess how this temporary measure addresses Canada’s labour shortages, and the impact to international students, to determine if the policy will be made permanent.

2. International students: Automated study permit extensions

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is launching a pilot project to automate the processing of study permit extensions, which have, historically, a consistently high approval rate of 97%. Applications will not be automatically rejected, the Minister stated, adding that rejections can only be completed by IRCC officers.

The pilot is intended to improve processing times and client service for these applications. If successful, it could be expanded to help reduce the backlogs in other categories, shifting IRCC officers’ focus to more complex applications.

3. New National Occupation Classification 2021: TEER

On November 16, 2022, IRCC will switch to the 2021 National Occupational Classification (NOC) system (from the 2016 version) which brings a significantly different manner in which occupations are classified:

  1. The current NOC 2016 skill type and skill level structure (NOC 0, A, B, C and D) will be replaced with a 6-category system representing the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) needed to work in an occupation:
  • Skill type or level / TEER category
    • Skill type 0 – TEER 0
    • Skill level A – TEER 1
    • Skill level B – TEER 2 and TEER 3
    • Skill level C – TEER 4
    • Skill level D – TEER 5
  1. 4-digit occupation codes will become 5-digit codes
  2. Eligibility criteria for all programs that use the NOC system will be updated (such as Labour Market Impact Assessments [LMIAs] and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program [TFWP], work permits under the International Mobility Program [IMP], Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs for permanent residency, etc.).

Employers that submit or file an immigration application on or after November 16, 2022, should update the application with the applicable TEER category and 5-digit occupation code. This update is a mandatory requirement for Express Entry profiles as of November 16, 2022 (i.e. If you have already submitted a profile but have not been sent an invitation to apply you must update your profile as of this date). However, an Express Entry Invitation to Apply is received before November 16, 2022, the applicant must still submit their application for Permanent Residency using NOC 2016.

4. Alberta’s LMIA “Refusal to Process” list eliminated

As a reminder, as of May 1, 2022, the Refusal to Process policy that automatically refused LMIAs for certain occupations in Alberta is no longer in effect.

The restrictions were put in place with the aim to prioritize employment opportunities for Albertans. The loosening of the restrictions is in response to various sectors finding it difficult to fill positions with Canadian and Permanent Resident workers in the province. Alberta is expected to monitor impacts of this change and make adjustments as necessary to ensure the TFWP continues to benefit the province’s economy and labour market.

5.Temporary Foreign Workers changing employment: Public policy still in effect

The temporary public policy that came into effect on May 12, 2020 exempting certain requirements for foreign workers changing employment within Canada, remains in effect until revoked by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The policy allows foreign workers already in Canada to begin work in advance of a final decision on their work permit application in process provided they are (1) currently in Canada on an employer-specific work permit or are working under a category which legally permits them to work without a work permit (but does not include Business Visitors or those under short-term work permit exemptions pursuant to Global Skills Strategy); (2) changing jobs or employers; and (3) have secured a job offer under the terms of either the TFWP or IMP (i.e. are awaiting an e-employer-specific work permit).

As per the current COVID-19-related policy relating to the exemption of biometrics for in-Canada applications for temporary residence, work permit applications submitted under this policy are similarly exempt from requiring biometrics.

Foreign nationals who wish to change jobs while in Canada but who do not meet the specific requirements of the public policy must still await the approval of their new work permits before they can legally work for the new employer/under the new work conditions.