Archive - May 2020

USCIS prepares to open offices to resume operation

USCIS resumes public services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is getting some domestic offices to ready to reopen. These offices serving US immigration will resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4, 2020.

From 18th March 2020, USCIS had temporarily suspended routine in-person services at its asylum offices, field offices, and application support centers (ASC). This was done to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

USCIS continues to provide limited emergency in-person services concerning immigration to USA.

When the offices will be reopened, social distancing will be ensured at these offices. This will lead to a reduced number of appointments and interviews.

The appointment notices will also carry information on safety measures expected to be followed by the visitors in the USCIS facilities.

Even if someone has to reschedule the appointment due to illness, it will not be penalized.

The asylum offices of USCIS will automatically reschedule interviews that were canceled when the temporary closures came into effect. A new interview notice with a new time, date, and location will be sent to the asylum applicant.

Asylum offices will quite possibly conduct video-facilitated asylum interviews. The interviewer and the person interviewed will sit in different rooms.

A similar approach using gadgets including mobile devices will be followed by all concerned officers. They will ensure full participation while maintaining social distancing.

Like the asylum interviews, rescheduled naturalization ceremonies will also be intimated via notices from USCIS to the concerned parties.

In the ceremony, attendees, whose number will be kept short, will receive flyers with information and links to lead them to the videos on the USCIS website. There will be no videos played during the ceremony.

For interviews that got canceled due to closures, new notices will be sent to applicants and petitioners. The attendees of the interview will follow safety guidelines.

Any appointments that need to be rescheduled must be done so through the USCIS contact center once the field offices are open to public.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to the USA, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Canada lists scenarios for CBSA to make decisions at the border

CBSA essential travel

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) gives out internal instructions to the authorities who are the final approvers on who crosses the Canadian border.

The present travel restrictions at the Canadian borders for COVID-19 prevention disallows anything but essential travel across the border.

But there has been an ambiguity on what all are considered “essential travel” among the general public. This affects those who arrive in Canada on Canada visitor visa for a purpose that will be scrutinized by CBSA.

Even family members of Canadians who are foreign nationals must demonstrate that they are entering Canada for a “non-discretionary” or “non-optional” reason.

Even in cases where the foreigner is coming to Canada to witness their first-born child, to enter the country they must have a plan for a 14-day self-isolation in quarantine. But if the traveler is a grandparent of the newborn child, that person’s visit won’t be treated as “essential”.

Like these cases, many other scenarios that are minutely relevant are not yet available on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) webpage. As of now, contacting IRCC or CBSA for clarity on individual situations is the option available.

Few exemptions to the requirement for the 2-week quarantine are listed in CBSA’s internal memo. The memo has 28 pages full of instructions to officers at the border. It mentions various scenarios described with clarity.

The terms “non-optional” and “non-discretionary” that the government has devised have been used to preserve the meaning intended.

Certain scenarios have been excluded from the memo like:

  • The parties involved are Canadians and people of First Nations, who may exercise a right to enter Canada
  • People involved are foreign nationals who have no other way than to cross the border due to natural disaster or a highway closure

But by referring to the scenarios from the CBSA’s list, clarity may be obtained. The list has these scenarios sorted into categories namely:

  • Students
  • Family
  • Workers
  • Business
  • Other travelers

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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BC PNP Tech Pilot to bring 133 tech workers to Canada

The pay facts in the US for H-1B visa holders revealed

H-1B higher wages

The findings of a recent study about the earnings of H-1B visa holders have brought to light new facts. It busts myths of this class of workers being underpaid in the US.

The new finding is that 4 out of 5 US employers who appoint H-1B visa holders pay 20% more wages to them than the average market salaries. The data to establish this was collected by the US Labor Department (DOL).

In the financial year 2019 the average wage offered to all foreigners seeking to work in USA with an H-1B visa was $100,461. The average prevailing wage determined for the same period for the same skill level was $83,619. This analysis was done by the Cato Institute.

The percentage of H-1B employers whose average wage offers were above their prevailing wage determination was 78% in 2019.

This contradicts the finding made by the Economy Policy Institute that 60% of H-1B workers are paid wages below the local median calculated for the job.

Investigating these contradictions would need an understanding of the 4 wage levels determined by the DOL on the basis of:

  • Experience
  • Responsibilities
  • Skill

The employing firms for these H-1B visa holders are bound to pay the current median wage or more for each role.

It’s found by the Cato Institute that almost all H-1B employers offer pays above the median wage determined for every individual skill level.

The DOL has found that 70% of employees at wage levels L1 and L2 were getting wages higher than the existing wage rate in the US for that skill level.

For such higher wage levels, the requests for H-1B visa has doubled since 2010.

This combined with the hiring of overseas workers by many tech companies over US citizens has given birth to another situation. This is reflected in President Trump’s recent clampdown on H-1B visa issuance. It led to application denials to as much as 30%.

But the strong message the scenario gives is that many companies in the US are clearly favoring skilled immigrants.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to the USA, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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440 is the new rock bottom with Canada’s May 28 draw

canada express entry latest draw

On May 28, 2020, immigration Canada witnessed another Canada Express Entry draw that issued 3,515 invitations to Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of 440.

This round of invitations saw the continuing trend of decreasing CRS cut-off scores. At the same time, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are inviting a larger number of CEC-specific candidates.

In fact, the decreasing trend has been consistently seen in the past 6 CEC draws conducted in Canada since the last all-program draw on March 4, 2020. The regularity between draws in terms of interval and frequency in the last 2 months is said to be one of the major reasons for this trend.

The latest cut-off CRS score of 440 is 7 points lesser than the one of the May 15 draw. It has thus also become the lowest for the program since January 2019.

The last Express Entry draw was also the second in a row in 24 hours since the May 27 draw inviting 385 Express Entry candidates. They were nominated through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

PNP candidates from the Express Entry pool are granted 600 additional points on their original CRS score. This explains why the May 27 draw had a CRS cutoff score of 757. Without the added points, the score was only 157.

The profiles of candidates with Canada immigration eligibility are kept in the Express Entry pool, managed by Canada’s Express Entry system. These candidate profiles belong to 3 of Canada’s main economic-class immigration programs namely:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Class

The CRS score is a ranking given to candidate profiles considering factors such as the candidate’s age, education, work experience, and language skills in English or French.

The high rankers will get an ITA via regular draws and IRCC shall process these applications for permanent residence within 6 months.

March 7, 2020, at 10:36: 59 UTC was the date and time used to apply the tie-break rule in this draw. So, a candidate who scored at least 440 points having their profile submitted before that date and time received an ITA in this round of invitation.

The May 28 draw brings the total number of ITAs sent this year to 42,100.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Canada brings the right benefits right in time with CERB

Canada brings the right benefits right in time with CERB

Canada CERB for residents

In a new development, the Canadian government has made an encouraging declaration for the country’s temporary residents trying to get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The government has said that these residents will no longer require to provide proof of a valid work permit to receive the CERB. Nor will they have to give proof of the renewal of an expiring permit.

A directive was sent in this regard to the Employment and Social Development Canada officials. It’s their job to review and approve CERB applications. CERB is a temporary social security program for Canadian residents who are affected and unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the new rule, the agents of the Canadian government will no longer need to receive proof of a valid Canada work permit visa via email. It will suffice to get a confirmation verbally from the applicant.

This move by Canada is in the interest of international students and foreigners who work in Canada. The thoughtful step will encourage the beneficiaries to stay back in Canada.

The Canadian government is thus simplifying the application process for CERB and effectively speeding it up too. Those immigrants in grave need for financial support will now get help faster in this time of crisis owing to COVID-19.

In recent times, the government of Canada has made many funding announcements in the wake of the pandemic. The benefits have been made available to temporary residents including temporary workers and foreign students. CERB is a glowing instance of such initiatives.

To be eligible for the CERB benefit, the temporary residents and international students must meet the criteria expected of Canadian citizens. Temporary residents must also have a valid Social Insurance Number.

Through CERB, eligible workers will get $500 per week till 16 weeks. This income support will also benefit international students who are eligible.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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BC PNP Tech Pilot to bring 133 tech workers to Canada

British Columbia Tech Pilot Draw

More tech candidates were invited through Canada immigration at the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Tech Pilot draw conducted by British Columbia (BC) on May 26, 2020.

The 133 chosen candidates were from International Graduate and Skilled worker streams of Express Entry BC (EEBC) and Skills Immigration categories.

The minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score required for the chosen candidates was 80. These candidates were sent invitations to apply for provincial nomination for Canadian Permanent Residence (PR).

This Tech Pilot was one of the many conducted by BC to find skilled workers in the technological field to work for tech companies in the province. The province is known for its concentration of tech companies.

Under this tech pilot, BC will offer the workers who are invited with a valid job offer in any of the listed in-demand occupations in the tech sector. The 29 jobs on this list are:

  • 6221 Technical sales specialists – wholesale trade
  • 5227 Support occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting, photography and the performing arts
  • 5241 Graphic designers and illustrators
  • 5225 Audio and video recording technicians
  • 5125 Translators, terminologists and interpreters
  • 5224 Broadcast technicians
  • 5121 Authors and writers
  • 5226 Other technical and coordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts
  • 5122 Editors
  • 2282 User support technicians
  • 2283 Information systems testing technicians
  • 2243 Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • 2281 Computer network technicians
  • 2241 Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians
  • 2242 Electronic service technicians (household and business equipment)
  • 2175 Web designers and developers
  • 2221 Biological technologists and technicians
  • 2173 Software engineers and designers
  • 2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • 2171 Information systems analysts and consultants
  • 2172 Database analysts and data administrators
  • 2134 Chemical engineers
  • 2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
  • 2132 Mechanical engineers
  • 2133 Electrical and electronics engineers
  • 0512 Managers – publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts
  • 2131 Civil engineers
  • 0131 Telecommunication carriers’ managers
  • 0213 Computer and information systems managers

The candidates for EEBC must have their profiles submitted under both federal Express Entry and BC’s Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS).

In case an Express Entry candidate receives a provincial nomination, he/she will get 600 extra points on his/her Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. This will in effect guarantee him/her that he/she will receive an invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence.

The job offer a Tech Pilot candidate gets should have a minimum span of a year. There must also be a minimum of 120 days left in the candidate’s job term at the time of his/her submitting profile to BC.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Act in the US for major visa reforms in issuing H-1B visa

H-1B bill

There’s been a proposal from a group of lawmakers in both chambers of the US Congress for major reforms in skilled non-immigrant visa programs. The proposal is to give priority in issuing the H-1B visa to foreign technology professionals who had their education in the US.

The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act will exercise priorities in making the annual allocation of the H-1B visa. The ones who will receive priority will include those:

  • With an advanced degree
  • With valuable skills
  • Paid high wages

The proposal was introduced in the Senate by Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Chuck Grassley. In the House of Representatives, Congressmen Paul Gosar, Bill Pascrell, Ro Khanna, Lance Gooden, and Frank Pallone did the same.

The new legislation categorically prohibits the practice of replacing American workers with H-1B or L-1 visa holders. Advocating fairness for both Americans and visa-holders, the legislation reaffirms that the working conditions of America’s working citizens are not affected by the hiring of H-1B workers.

The legislation also stands for an increase in crackdown on outsourcing companies that bring in large numbers of foreign workers with H-1B and L-1 visas. They are imported for training purposes and are sent back to their respective countries to do the job for employers in the US.

The bill would not allow companies to hire additional H-1B employees if:

  • It has more than 50 employees
  • At least half of them are H-1B or L-1 holders

With this bill in effect, the US Department of Labor will get increased authority to review, investigate, and audit the compliance of an employer with the requirements of the program. Any fraud or abusive actions will be penalized.

The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act has several reforms of the L-1 visa program, that includes:

  • Changed definition of “specialized knowledge”, that ensures L-1 visas to be reserved only for legitimately key personnel
  • Establishment of a floor for wages for L-1 workers
  • An assurance that transfers that happen between companies take place between legitimate branches of companies (eliminating “shell” facilities)
  • US Department of Homeland Security’s authority to investigate, audit, and enforce compliance with the requirements specified in the L-1 program

As Senator Dick Durbin stated, this legislation would end the abuses against Americans and foreigners who work in the USA and protect them from exploitation.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to the US, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Canada makes fresh decision for foreign students

Canada accept incomplete study permit

News of a new considerate measure for international students could liven up the spirits of students who want to study in Canada.

Canada has decided to keep the files of foreign students who cannot submit all their required documents as open until they are able to do so. The students are largely finding it impossible to submit these documents because of closures of application centers due to COVID-19.

This new step is applicable to those students applying for student permit or Post-Graduation Work Permit.

The essential submissions that are lagged due to the COVID-19 disruptions are:

  • Original travel documents
  • Medical examinations
  • Biometrics

The Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has assured students that their applications won’t be rejected on the grounds of such non-submission.

Canada immigration measures boost the morale of those who choose to work after they complete their study abroad. Canada has extended this considerate facility to PGWP applicants too. The inability in getting a letter of completion of studies or their final transcripts from their DLI (Designated Learning Institution) won’t stop them from working until the decision on the application arrives.

But PGWP applicants must give a letter of explanation. It should state that they aren’t able to produce the documents due to the closure of the school owing to COVID-19.

They can use the IRCC web form to submit the document once it’s available. Until then, IRCC even allows foreign students to restore their status.

Another issue is the closure that has become necessary for Canada’s post-secondary institutions. This follows the compliance with measures like social distancing aimed at COVID-19 prevention. This could put the study status of students to part-time due to canceled or re-scheduled classes.

Under the current measure, such part-time students of the winter and summer 2020 semesters, can still apply for PGWP.

PGWP is important for students who want to continue in Canada working. The work experience they get will help them with gaining eligibility for other immigration streams like the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Express Entry.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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West Kootenay launches their own application process

West Kootenay launches their own application process

Kootenay opens application

The West Kootenay region includes the towns of Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, and trail.

Now, through the Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), this region has launched its application process for candidates who work in Canada and employers.

Aligning with Canada immigration at the federal level, the British Columbia region, including West Kootenay, focuses on language skills rather than community criteria. Intention to live in the region and wages offered are among other criteria.

An extensive points grid is also published by West Kootenay. It gives the applicants a score of up to 100. The top scorers get chosen for nomination.

For principal candidates and their common partner or spouse include:

  • Time spent in West Kootenay
  • Family connections
  • Job offers
  • West Kootenay work experience
  • Driver’s license
  • Age
  • Language ability

Through the RNIP, the region will strengthen its local economy and facilitate effectively towards the development of the workforce.

West Kootenay is among the 9 communities that have launched their RNIP application processes.

RNIP Employer Criteria in West Kootenay

To be eligible in West Kootenay in West Kootenay RNIP, the employee must:

  • Attest to efforts put in to recruit a citizen of Canada or a permanent resident.
  • Be based in West Kootenay, being eligible to give job offers that are genuine.
  • Not be violating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) and/or employment standards of the province.
  • Have operated in the West Kootenays for at least 2 years or have made a business investment of a minimum of $200,000 in the West Kootenay region.
  • Offer wage the offer of employment that meets or exceeds $22/hour and must be above or within the range of wages for the occupation. Candidates who are working and/or residing in the West Kootenay region right now since the last 6 months will be exempt from this. But their wage/job offer must offer a pay between $17/hour and $21.99/hour.
  • Not request or accept any kind of payment in exchange for giving a job offer.

RNIP Community Candidate Criteria for West Kootenay

To be eligible in West Kootenay in West Kootenay RNIP, the candidate must:

  • Have completed a Candidate profile on the West Kootenay website.
  • Have a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 4 or higher, in French or English.
  • Intend to live in West Kootenay.
  • Meet the federal eligibility criteria.
  • Have a wage offered that is or exceeds $22/hour and must be above or within the range of wages for that occupation. Candidates who are currently working, studying, and/or residing for a minimum of 6 months till now in the community will be exempt from this wage requirement. This will be so if their wage/job offer is between $17/hour and $21.99/hour.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Prince Edward Island welcomes 29 candidates to immigrate

PEI PNP draws

Prince Edward Island (PEI) hosted 3 Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws since the restrictions due to COVID-19 were implemented in Canada.

The streams Labor of Impact and Express Entry were the main sources of candidates invited by PEI PNP.

These candidates have been on the job in essential services that includes trucking and healthcare.

The Business Impact candidates, who usually get included in PEI PNP draws did not participate in these 3 draws. Because of that, only 29 candidates were issued invitations in these 3 draws.

The first of these 3 draws were conducted on 23rd March 2020. 5 candidates were issued invites to apply for a PEI provincial nomination.

The next one was held by PEI on 27th April 2020. It invited 10 candidates.

The last one was held on 15th May 2020. It invited 14 candidates.

The PEI PNP’s Express Entry works on the same lines of the federal Express Entry system of Canada. It takes care of the applications of the same 3 economic class immigration categories namely:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Express Entry candidates submit their profiles. These are stored in the Express Entry pool. They are then ranked with the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores. These scores are determined considering:

  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Language skills

Once the provincial nomination is received, these candidates are given an additional 600 points. They will thus be guaranteed in effect that they will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) from the Canadian government in a forthcoming draw.

The EOI profile that candidates of PEI PNP create gets scores set under PEI’s unique points grid.

The top-ranked get invited to apply through monthly draws.

Candidates in the Labor Impact category have valid job offers in PEI, having support from their employers.

The labor Impact stream is classified into:

  • International Graduate
  • Skilled Worker
  • Critical Worker

Candidates under this stream must submit an EOI profile to be eligible to be considered for a provincial nomination.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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