CanadaVisa and IDP IELTS - Updates on Canadian Immigration and IELTS Availability in Canada
On Tuesday, August 4th, we held a live online webinar with Monica Aguirre, IDP IELTS Stakeholder Relations & Business Development Manager and Christopher Collette, Senior Lawyer at CanadaVisa.com - Campbell Cohen Canadian Immigration Law Firm.
CanadaVisa.com and IDP IELTS presented updates on Canadian Immigration & IELTS availability in Canada and answered questions.
A transcript follows the video.
Transcript of the Webinar
Just to let you know, this webinar will be recorded, and we will be sharing the recording later on our social media channels. So once again, thank you for joining us today from many places around the world. I hope you can see me. Okay, and you can hear me well as well. I also want to let you know that we have disabled the chat option. So those of you who have already sent us questions, thank you for that. We will be answering your questions at the end of the webinar. However, it is not possible to answer every single question as we wouldn't have enough time. Also, some of these questions are very, very specific to the person's status. So we're going to be answering some questions that are more universal. And hopefully, these are the will going to give you. It's going to give you a lot of information, a lot of updates, and you're going to be able to also have our contact information later on during the webinar. So let me start here. Today, we're going to be talking about one latest IELTS news to the recap of the latest Canadian immigration changes and in use, and as I mentioned, we are going to be answering your questions that we have received. So let's start. Well, as I mentioned before I work with IDP and they are one of the proud co-owners of the test, alongside the British Council and Cambridge.
Well, IELTS is the English language testing system and that's what it stands for. We are accepted by over 10,000 organizations worldwide. We're also accepted by governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK for Migration purposes, and is also used by employers, universities, professional registration bodies, worldwide in Canada in the US and many other countries around the world. IELTS is 30 years old. We turned last year 30 years ago. We have been in the industry for many years and we know exactly what it's like to be there. So many of you have asked about testing in Canada and testing worldwide. Well in Canada regularly during a normal scenario, we have more than 150 test locations across Canada. So you can find them online as well. But since the start of COVID-19 a lot of these locations had to close down for the time being because we weren't able to test.
So the good news is now that things in many of the provinces here in Canada started to reduce the, tighten the security measures. We are now open in many of the provinces in Canada. So in Canada, we are open in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Worldwide we are testing right now in 87 countries. So what I would suggest for everyone who is looking to book an IELTS test and has not been able to, is to go to ielts.org.
If you are outside of Canada to look for the place that there is a list of countries that we are open by now. And for Canada, I recommend you go to IELTS.com to look for a place in Canada where you can test as well. Now, since there are a lot of you are waiting to take the test, I would also recommend that you start practicing. There are many good practice tools that we have online. And again, I invite you to visit IELTS.com to find the resources. One of the things that I want to bring up to you today is the IELTS Progress Check. So the IELTS Progress Check would allow you to test from the comfort of your home. It is a practice test, which is approximately 60 Canadian dollars and you will be able to receive feedback and an indicative by the score of how you are doing and IELTS examiners will give you information of where you need to improve. So again, this is a practice test. It is not the real test, the real test is taken at the test centre once you're able to book it there.
Now I'm from IELTS as I was mentioning before, we are now open across Canada in many places. So here I'll go again, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. Many of you may have tried to book right now, however, you may not have been able to, since everything is getting booked pretty quickly. The reason is, as you may imagine, there is a large backlog of tests that people were trying to take since March and they were not able to take it until right now. So as we continue to open up in many different places, we will be able to increase the number of availability of the test. So hopefully everyone will get a test date very soon. Okay, so these were the IELTS updates. And now I think everyone is waiting for this part, which is from Immigration Canada, and Chris, if you can let me know if you can hear me, you can unmute yourself and you can share your screen. Yeah, here we are. Perfect. So I'll pass it on to you, Chris.
Yeah. Thank you, Monica.
All right. Thanks again. I'm happy to be back. Last time we spoke was a couple of months ago and there have been a lot of updates since then. Before I really get into them, just a reminder, my name is Christopher Collette. I'm an immigration lawyer. I work at the law firm of Campbell Cohen. Our website is CanadaVisa.com. And as you'll see later on in the presentation, we will be answering some general questions. But if you have any case-specific questions, questions that are specific to your situation. We've created a special email address, which is IELTS@canadavisa.com, where you can email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
Now, jumping right into it, there have been a lot of developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. The last time I did a presentation like this for IDP IELTS, there were some developments but over the last month or so, there's really been a flurry of new developments affecting all types of immigration applications.
The general overall message is that there was a few month period where processing was extremely restricted. But with these new steps taken by the government, there is a slow and cautious return to normal on the horizon. So I'll just go through some of the more recent developments.
Dating back to March of this year, the government implemented some travel restrictions, and these specific instructions have been changing on an almost weekly basis. So I do invite you to visit this link that we've put in. The information I give you today might be out of date by next week. So it would always be important to check back for the latest if you are looking to apply or renew your status in Canada.
Now that again, the general rule for the past few months has been there's been an immense slowdown in the processing of all types of applications. In response, this is mostly because there are staffing reductions at the government offices, and a lot of applicants couldn't complete essential steps that were normally required as part of the immigration process. These are, for example, biometrics and medical exams that are required. But they've been closed in many countries worldwide. Biometric services are starting to resume abroad. There are these application centres in many countries, which will now take appointments, which is good. That was on pause for a while.
The government has also introduced a new policy, where if you are unable to provide your biometrics within the stated deadline, they normally give you 60 or 90 days, they will just hold your application open until you can complete those steps. There was also a development that was announced a couple of months ago that for students in Canada right now, the working restrictions have been somewhat loosened. They can work in essential industries up over and above the usual 20 hour per week mark that they're allowed to do during their studies. These are all the older updates in terms of some of the newer updates.
Students are a huge thing right now in Canada, everybody's wondering whether they're going to be able to travel to Canada for the fall, and what they're going to do if that's not possible. And the message Canada is sending right now is that students are definitely still welcome, and it’s still recommended that you come and pursue your studies in Canada if that was your goal.
In terms of new developments for study permits, it is no longer possible to do these port of entry applications as they were called in many visa-exempt countries around the world. It used to be possible to simply fly in to the country or come to the land border, and make your application in person on arrival. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible, as long as the pandemic continues. All-new study permit applications have to be submitted online at this point. In response to a surge of study permit applications, the government has implemented a new two-step study permit process. So, unfortunately, the way things are going it's probably not going to be possible. for the government to approve everyone's study permit for the upcoming fall semester.
This is because again, processing slowdowns and many applicants aren't able to complete some of the application steps that they need to do. So in response to this situation, the government implemented a new two-step process. They will issue once you submit your study permit application, they will go through most of the essential documents and if everything looks good, they will issue a first-stage approval of your study permit. And that basically allows you to register for your classes and start your studies online if you are unable to travel to Canada right now during the travel restrictions later on. Once you are able to provide any missing documentation such as biometrics and medicals, they will then finalize and issue the second stage approval of the study permit.
With that said, even those who have approved study permits right now might not be able to try Canada, there are some updated rules with respect to coming for studies. And it varies depending on whether you're coming from the United States or from another country. For students coming from the United States, if they have an approved study permit, they might be able to enter Canada regardless of when that study permit was issued. For everybody else, only people who have studied permits that were approved before March of this year are currently able to travel.
On top of this, as I'll detail in a little bit, not everybody, even if you have your approved study permit, the border officers upon your arrival will still want to make sure that there is a need for you to do in-person classes or that for whatever reason, you cannot complete your studies online.
People who are already in Canada studying an earlier 2019 or 2018, they can enter without an issue. With respect to the upcoming semesters, Canada has said that they're looking to process 80,000 study permit applications for the January 2021 semester. And using our new policies, it's looking good that they'll be able to do this.
There's also been a really important update with respect to postgraduate work permits. Many people were concerned, you know, if they were unable to travel to Canada, would they still be able to get their postgraduate work permit? The answer is yes, there is a policy now, which states that you can start your studies online for the last summer semester and for the upcoming fall semester. And anytime you spend studying online will count towards your postgraduate work permit, up to 50% of the program of studies. And there's a new development over the last week or so, where you can start your studies online as soon as you've applied for the study permit. You don't even need to have the first or second stage approval. You can start counting that time right away as soon as the application is in the system.
So, if you have a study permit approved right now, are you able to enter Canada? The border officers and airport authorities will be looking for the following factors if you are looking to travel to Canada right now, again, if you've already been living in Canada for a while, before the pandemic hit, you should have no issues re-entering Canada because it's considered a non-discretionary visit automatically.
For everyone else, though, they'll need to show the border officers or the airport authorities that they can quarantine upon arrival, that they'll be able to begin their studies as soon as the quarantine is done. And that there is a need for an in-person presence in the classrooms for example labs and workshops. And if even if there is no in-person presence required, you might be able to enter if you can show the authority that you are unable to do your studies online, for example, for internet issues or some other related factors.
With respect to work permits, there have also been some new developments in Canada. People in Canada are now benefiting from much faster processing times overall. There are biometrics exemptions. So again, with most temporary residence applications, people need to provide their biometrics if they haven't done so already. That is currently waived for people who are in Canada and looking for a new temporary permit.
There are also special processes right now if you want if you are on a closed work permit on employer-specific work permit, and you want to switch employers or start a new job. There's actually a 10-day process right now where you can contact the authorities and request expedited work authorization for your matter.
If you are outside of Canada, and you're looking to apply for a work permit, it really is on a case by case basis right now, it's hard to say how long it will take.
In many cases, the government will be prioritizing essential jobs mainly related to health care, essential infrastructure and other things. If you are looking to come on a work permit that is not related to an essential sector, processing of the application might be delayed significantly, we're seeing some significant delays in this respect.
With respect to permanent residents, things are slowly getting back to normal. In terms of the most popular immigration program, which is Express Entry right now. There were fewer visas issued over the past few months. But these numbers are coming back up to normal in the near future. There were some recent draws for Canadian experience class applicants in the past few weeks with actually very good scores. So a lot of people who were eligible for that program received invitations. The scores were 445 and 431, I believe. And for the first time since the pandemic began, the authorities did a draw under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. It was on the eighth of July and a score of 478 was required. And we're expecting that there's going to be additional draws in the near future, hopefully with lower scores as they continue to draw people from the pool of candidates.
With respect to family class applications, spousal sponsorships, by and large business as usual, if you're sponsoring a spouse to Canada, nothing stopping you from going ahead and submitting that application. Processing might be slightly longer than normal, but otherwise, it's looking like the usual pre-COVID situation. There was also a parent and grandparent sponsorships in case anybody was unaware they used to do draws once a year. For this program, and issued invitations to up to 20,000 people to apply to this program. They had to put the draw on hold this year as a result of the pandemic. But every time we speak to the government, they say they are still committed to issuing another round of invitations for the parent and grandparent program by the end of the year. So we'll have updates on that on our news website, which is https://www.cicnews.com.
And for anybody who's applying for permanent residence and already has their application approved and they have their landing papers, there are also some new instructions that are in effect. If you can come to Canada and land you are permitted to do so as long as you intend on settling and not leaving the country right away. If you do intend on coming just to activate your permanent residence and then leaving the advice being given right now is to wait. And even if your landing papers expire, you can contact the authorities and tell them when you're planning on traveling, and you should be able to complete your time.
So that's just a brief summary. I didn't want to take too much time. So we have more time to answer questions, but you have my contact information here on the right. And the email address, like I said, that we've created for people is IELTS at CanadaVisa.com. You can contact us if you have any specific questions about your case, and we'll be happy to answer.
All right. That's great. Thank you very much, Chris, that was very informative, that is a lot of information, a lot of updates, a lot of news, and I know, it's very overwhelming. You know, when, people are trying to go online and you know, try to see, where do I find this information. So having this one-stop-shop in a way to have all of this information is very, very important for us. So thank you, thank you very much, really appreciate it. And as I mentioned, so what we did this time is that we're now opening the floor for questions at the moment. But we did ask people to send us their questions. And it is not possible to answer every single question. But we've put together a set of questions that hopefully will answer a lot of those same inquiries that people had about, you know, the process applications as well for IELTS too. And I really hope that you know, the presentation that you gave, especially have given people the answer that we're looking for. So I'm going to start if you don’t mind with some IELTS questions, which we're not that many compared to the amount of questions we receive for immigration. So I'm going to start here.
So for IELTS, one of the questions that we had - “Is my IELTS expired at the beginning of the year. Can they be extended?” So we, as IELTS, have an expiry date for two years. So if you need to have these scores reissued, usually, you know if you took your IELTS last year, and you know you need your IELTS scores to be sent to one of the organizations like a university, or to your employer, then you're going to need an extra TRF to send to Immigration Canada, then usually you contact your test centre and you ask them for a new TRF. Now usually you have to pay for this. But if it has been more than two years since the moment that you took your IELTS, unfortunately, this cannot happen.
And you will have to take a new IELTS test personally. So you know, make sure that you are studying that you are maybe taking those free or paid IELTS practice tests, because the higher the score you have, the better chances you have for it. Immigration Canada. So that's one of the questions as well. Is Indicator goods for immigration? So many people did see the news at the beginning of the pandemic that we launched the IELTS Indicator which is an academic online test. So it is only academic. So it is not good for immigration. So, if you do not need to have an academic test then I will say yes, please do not book it. If you're trying to apply for immigration, Immigration Canada only accepts the TRF the IELTS scores that you send to them and they must be valid. So it cannot be sent from a test centre that cannot be sent from us. It has to be sent by you directly.
Is computer-delivered is accepted by immigration. So many people are confused between computer-delivered IELTS and the online IELTS test that I just mentioned or online practice test. So when you're booking your test or when you're looking around and the page says computer-delivered IELTS, it means that you're gonna go to a test centre. You sit down in front of a computer and you write your test on the computer you have the choice to write the IELTS does on paper or on the computer, it can be academic or general. Both are accepted by Immigration Canada also by universities and colleges. So do not confuse the IELTS indicator which you can take online at home or a practice test. Between you know, the computer-delivered test. The computer-delivered test taken at a test centre is accepted.
Okay, and the last question I have for the IELTS side of things is you know, I've tried booking my test in Canada for next week but everything is sold out. When would I be able to book my test? So as you can imagine, there is a big backlog of tests because a lot of people had to wait until the test centres were able to resume opening. We have now opened up in many provinces and also in many countries around the world, making sure that we aren't following every health and safety procedures that we need to follow in order to make sure that both the staff and candidates are safe and healthy. So right now, here in Ontario, to give you an example, we have just gone into stage three, which allows us to have more people within a test centre. But again, we have to take consideration that we are keeping people two meters apart as well.
So I will say keep checking online, go to IELTS.com. If you want to book your IELTS, in order to book a test, you may not find it for next week, but you will find test data later on. So please keep checking that is the best advice. So now over to you, Chris, I'm gonna read you some of the questions that we had, and I'll pass on the microphone.
So, now that many places across Canada are opening up is IRCC, resuming the processing of applications for students, prs, grandparents, and what is happening with that overall Canada and abroad.
Yeah, so very good question. We touched on this a bit during the presentation, things are getting back to normal. All applications are being processed right now. The issue though, is that some are taking far longer than others. Again, part of this is due to reduced processing capabilities on the government. Part of this is because many of the required documents are unavailable around the world right now. But by all means, if you are planning to visit, study, work or apply for permanent residence, you should still pursue your plans and get your application in the system as soon as possible.
Okay, great, thank you. Now we have many people who are already in Canada and their visa is about to expire or they know that they will have to renew it later on either this year, beginning of next year. And people are very nervous about this. So even need to renew, is this happening? Do they have, do they need any extra requirements? And will they have to go to a border crossing to renew their permits or most of the Canada applications right now?
It is still possible to process renewals and they're actually processing them very quickly. Right now, I'm assuming that that's because it's difficult to process the amount of Canada applications for people in Canada. They're already here. So a lot of the verifications that they normally do have already been done. So just as an example, where we used to get postgraduate work permits within about a month or two, they're now being issued within a week or two.
That's right. Yes. Yeah. Now it really depends which kind of visa you're looking to renew. Study permits are renewable from inside Canada. Most work permits are renewable from inside Canada, no need to go to the border. However, you know another question that we often get with respect to postgraduate work permits, in particular, is can I extend my postgraduate work permit, and unfortunately, that is still unrenewable at this point. The only way to renew a postgraduate work permit is if your passport expired before your postgraduate work permit was supposed to. We're hoping that the government is going to come up with a policy allowing for extensions or some other relief for postgraduate work permit holders but we have not heard anything yet. So yeah, if you're in Canada right now, things are very good. Very good.
Okay, that's that's quite nice. And thank you for that. Because I think that the thing that was another question that was coming up, you know, many people saying, you know, I have one work permit, can I extend that? So thank you for letting us know, and I'm sure we'll probably have another update probably in a few weeks, in a month or so that we'll make sure that, you know, everyone knows what's happening with all of these.
Now, I can just add one more point on that. It's also people might be looking to switch which kind of permits they have from a visitor to a student or whatever, that would be a different scenario. And I would say contact us because we would need to verify in some cases, you might need to exit or re-enter the country. And right now, that is not possible for most people. So yeah, I would say contact us in those cases.
Yeah. And those are very specific cases. You know, and yeah, and, you know, your colleagues can abuse others so well known and, you know, you guys know exactly like these all this information, making sure that you know, from the government directly, this is not information that comes from, you know, a Facebook post, directly from the source, which is very, very important.
Here, we have a whole team dedicated to just these updates. So yeah, we're very up to date.
That's great. Now, many people have similar questions. Many people are looking to Canada to come and study and they were already starting to plan but you know, they didn't even start their school application. Is it wise for them to start looking to school for next year and start their application? Or is something that you say you know, what, you know, we see that can I will read our numbers. What is the scenario looking right now for people, international students want to come and study in Canada.
I would still recommend them to apply. Canada loves international students and they want to do everything that they can to allow them to eventually come to Canada and actually do their studies in person. Like I mentioned before, they're looking to process over 1000 study permit applications for the coming January 2021 semester. For the fall at this point, it might be too late to get a study permit, the full approval of a study permit. But they do have this new two-step process. So if you do get accepted to a school and you want to start by September, you might be able to get a first stage approval and start your studies online. By and large, though, yes, I would still recommend applying to the schools, the process still works the same. Once you get an acceptance letter, and you have the savings you can apply for the study permit. And the only thing that is unknown at this point is you know, whether the virus will get better or worse around the world. Obviously, if things do get worse, we'll have to wait and see what happens. But at least in Canada, things are improving remarkably, and we are taking steps so that anybody who's entering Canada, they have to quarantine and isolate themselves, etc. So if that continues, I am very optimistic for the fall semester, but more so for the January 2021 semester at this point.
Yeah, perfect. Thank you very much. And you know, one last question that we have here is Canada's management of the pandemic so far has been very efficient. And we've seen that in the news also with the numbers, the opening of the economies in many different provinces. And it's getting noticed abroad, people from around the world they're seeing like, okay, Canada is, that they know what they're doing. They're handling things. That's what it looks like. And many people are starting to see Canada as the future. And they want to, they want to migrate here either through standing or express entry. So what should they expect if they wish to start this process? You know, what would you recommend people start looking at and where should they go to gather this information?
Sure. Those are all great questions. I love Canada and I understand the desire to come here and I do think we are handling the pandemic situation quite well. There's always room for improvement. But overall, as compared to many other countries, we're doing very, very well. Overall, I think everybody's hoping that we will get over this pandemic. within the next few months, maybe up to a year, we'll have to see what happens. But it all goes back to if you have plans to immigrate to Canada, you should still pursue them. And if you are interested in permanent residents, there are over 80 different programs that you might be eligible for. There's programs on the federal level, provinces, Quebec has their own immigration programs. We offer a free assessment on our website. If you would like to be assessed for many of these programs, you can fill in the free assessment, we'll get back to you within a day we'll let you know what your options are. If you're not eligible for any other programs, you might be interested then in studying, visiting or working, and again, it might take a bit longer than usual to get those authorizations but by all means, processing is still continuing. So all the more reason to get your application in the system as soon as possible and plan ahead. That's what's really important right now is don't start a week or two before you want to come. You really need to start planning a few months in ahead at this point if you're dedicated to come in Canada.
Perfect. That's great. One last question that we had is about the VAC, the visa application centres around the world. What's the news about VACs? Is there any website where we can go and check if their openings are open? Because a lot of people may have already started their applications for either residency or a study permit. And you know, they are feeling that they are up in limbo right now waiting to see what's going on.
Yeah, so up until I'd say about two weeks ago, the vast, vast majority of these application centres were closed around the world. These were places where people would go to submit their visas, submit their applications and do their biometrics, perhaps most importantly of all. However, within the last couple of weeks, the status has changed for many of them and they're now in indicating that they are taking appointments for various Visa Services, you might have to be a bit patient, you might need to get wait for an intro and introduction letter from the immigration authorities to be able to visit. But, for example, in France, I think I saw Mexico, in Canada, they're going to be resuming soon. Many, many countries are starting to resume their biometric services. And there is a dedicated website. I don't have the link on me, but it is on an IRCC biometrics website. You can Google it, and they have all of the VACs around the world listed and they have all of the statuses for each fact listed as well. So if you are looking to plan ahead or see if you can go give your biometrics in the near future. I would visit that website and they'll let you know right away and you also have the links directly to the VACs if you want to register and then make an appointment with them.
That's great. Thank you so much. And, you know, to end I'm going to first just send it. I'm going to ask you what is the greatest piece of advice that you can give people right now who are waiting on hold who are already in the process? So from the IELTS side, I'm going to say that, you know, continue checking online to see when you can have an open at this date. And in the meantime, study, study, study, practice. Now, if you're able to, if you're at home, if you're, you know, in quarantine, or if you are just making sure that you or your family stay safe and you are staying socially isolated. Practice, this is the best time for you to be able to have a better score for either immigration or for any academic purposes that you have. So this is the time to do it. If you have the time. Just please do it. So that's my video advice, though, over to you, Chris.
I see the golden rule right now again, is planning ahead. It will, it might take a bit longer to get your plans going and to get the decision you're looking for. But by all means, things are working the way they should, as best they can during the pandemic. So you have to stay safe. Whatever you're planning on doing, you know, there's a lot of changes on an almost daily basis right now with all the policies and the government policies and processing changes and special instructions and new programs being developed. So really important, no matter what you're planning on doing is to check the official sources for updates every day. And we do have a centralized news site, which I mentioned before, it's CIC news calm. We post updates, usually within minutes when they come out. So if you want one centralized location for all immigration updates and what might affect you, you can visit our website and there's also the Canada Border Services Agency. And immigration, refugees and citizenship Canada, they both have dedicated COVID-19 pages right now. So checking back is probably the most important thing right now.
Great. Well, Chris, thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much for gathering all those updates into one presentation. I can only imagine that is not you cannot only go to one website and gather all that information. And it's a lot of work. So thank you very much, again, and thank you, everyone, who came over today. I know many of you are joining from many parts of the world as well as from Canada. And thank you for waking up early, staying up late or, you know, just making time out of your day to Coleman, talk to us and stay safe. and we will talk soon.
Yep, they can talk to us at the email address if you have any specific questions we weren't able to answer today. But thank you for having me.
Thank you. Bye-bye.