Below are the latest immigration updates from the United States and Canada.
- Ontario invites tech-savvy immigrants to apply for residency.
- Canada also seeks migrant workers with experience in “agri-food.”
- College tuition costs have reached an all-time high in the U.S.
- The White House is fighting academic espionage with new defense bill.
Read on for more about each of these important news items affecting immigrants and international students coming to North America.
Ontario’s First Tech Draw
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program has started doing “Tech Draws.” This is a unique opportunity for people with technology backgrounds to qualify for permanent residency, even if they might not otherwise meet the scoring cutoff for federal immigration draws. Candidates need at least one year of experience in six tech-related fields.
The Tech Draws help identify qualified immigrants to meet the growing labor needs of the province’s technology market. Applicants with overall CRS scores as low as 439 qualified for the program in July. In total, Ontario’s Tech Draw invited more than 1,600 Express Entry candidates to apply for the Provincial Nominee Program.
Agri-Food Pathway for Migrant Workers
In addition to technology, a new pathway to permanent residence has opened up for migrant workers with agri-food experience. A three-year pilot program is intended to help grow the local economies and create jobs for Canadians. It caps the applicant pool at 2,750 each year, including family members. However, the program could welcome over 16,000 new permanent residents to Canada in total.
Fewer Irregular Migrant Crossings to Canada
Irregular migrant crossings into Canada are down by 38 percent in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Since June 2019, 6,707 asylum-seekers have come irregularly into Canada. However, there was a slight increase during the month of June. Now, conservative border critics are concerned that irregular border crossings may be rising in the second half of 2019.
Quebec Suspends International Student Program
The Quebec Experience Program has been temporarily suspended, leaving many international students uncertain of their future in Canada. As an express immigration process for recent graduates, it has left many scholars without options for permanent residence or employment. The program may resume in November.
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College Is Now More Expensive Than Ever
It is now more expensive than ever to attend a college or university in the U.S. With tuition fees at their highest—and still rising—student debt is also getting worse. Students are expected to spend nearly $80,000 USD for one year of study at the University of Chicago. That is the highest a university has ever charged for tuition. From the 1980s to 2018, the cost of attending a public institute of higher learning rose 213 percent, while the cost of attending a private college or university increased 129 percent.
In the United States, the total student loan debt is now over $1.5 trillion USD. Identified as an economy-crippling epidemic, this has become a key talking point ahead of this fall’s Democratic primaries. It is likely to continue as a topic of interest for campaigning and debates in 2020.
Lawsuit Challenges OPT Program
In the meantime, international students have been questioning the value of pursuing a degree in the United States. They are finding it harder than ever to secure Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPTs allow international students to stay in the country for up to three years after they graduate to earn work experience in their field. As of 2019, the wait time for OPTs increased to five months. The wait time is forcing many international students to give up job opportunities and return home instead. Now, there is a new wrinkle to worry about: A lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to even provide OPTs is moving forward.
U.S. Fights Espionage in Academic Research
The White House is attempting to fight academic espionage by addressing it in a new defense policy spending bill. U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed concerns over research theft at institutions of higher education. He cites security concerns, as well as the threat of foreign influence. In the bill, he requires officials to maintain a list of foreign entities who may be capable of potential research theft. It also sets aside funding for a Chinese-language course for the National Security Education Program (NSEP), while requiring improved security training for NSEP students traveling abroad.
Third-Country Rule Goes Into Effect
This week, a new rule was put into effect that will make it more difficult for refugees to seek asylum at the southern border. The Trump administration now requires nearly all people fleeing from Central American countries to apply for asylum in at least one country they pass through on their journey to the U.S., and hold proof of rejection, to be considered for asylum in the U.S.
Trump Announces New Immigration Proposal
The White House also announced a new immigration bill that addresses border security and legal immigration last week. Republican senators supported the 620-page document, but analysts suggest that it will need bipartisan support to succeed. Presently, it doesn’t lay out a plan for those living in the U.S. without documentation, or “Dreamers.” At the same time, despite previous hints to the contrary, Trump has stated that he will not be using the U.S. census as a means to track immigration status. Instead, he claims that he will look to existing federal records for that data.