Below are the latest immigration updates from the United States and Canada.
- H-1B visa approvals in decline.
- Can social media affect your visa status?
- China warns students against the U.S.
- New loan program for credential evaluations.
- Canada sponsoring more LGBTQ2 refugees in 2020.
Read on for more about each of these important news items affecting immigrants and international students coming to North America.
U.S. Immigration Policy Updates
According to the latest report from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B visas decreased from 373,400 in 2017 to 335,000 in 2018 (a decline of more than 10 percent). The Trump administration’s “strategies to clamp down on use of the H-1B visas” have been cited as a cause. The recent trend of approval rates suggests that the decline could be even larger in 2019. The approval rate of H-1B visas fell from 93 percent in 2017 to 85 percent in 2018. It has only reached 79 percent through the first six months of fiscal year 2019.
The U.S. State Department has also announced a policy requiring all visa applicants to submit five years of social media information. In a statement, the State Department said that the policy will “improve our screening processes” and “protect U.S. citizens.” Critics worry that the policy may impinge on privacy and free speech rights. Other concerns simply include adding another psychological barrier that must be overcome for immigrant hopefuls considering the United States.
Chinese Students Warned Against Studying in U.S.
Political and trade tensions between the U.S. and China spilled over to the higher education sector this week, with the Chinese Ministry of Education warning students about the potential risks of studying in the U.S. Although the statement was not accompanied by any overt policy changes, American universities are increasingly expressing concerns that the tensions could have further negative impacts on the already dwindling number of Chinese students studying in the U.S.
International Student Decline Harms U.S. Economy
The recent decline of Chinese student enrollments is a dramatic example of the long-term decline of the U.S. share of the international student market, which fell from 28 percent in 2001 to 22 percent in 2018. New data from the Institute of International Education (IIE) also indicates that the number of international students enrolled in U.S. Intensive English Language Programs fell for the third straight year. A recent NAFSA report measures the costs of that decline to the U.S. economy at $5.5 billion USD. The results of a survey of U.S. higher education institutions presented in that report suggests that visa concerns and the social and political environment in the U.S. are the most significant causes of the decline.
More Immigration News
Canada Launches New Loan for Credential Evaluations
A new loan program, funded by the Government of Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program, aims to help new immigrants in the Atlantic provinces get their foreign credentials and professional qualifications recognized. Launched this April, the Atlantic Immigrant Career Loan Fund provides loans to newcomers—many of whom are unable to qualify for bank loans due to their limited credit history—help pay for costs associated with getting their credentials recognized.
Canada Seeks Temporary Foreign Workers
Canada’s historically low unemployment rate seems to be driving growing demands for temporary foreign workers. Applications for the year are up nearly 25 percent, which has extended the wait time for the requisite Labour Market Impact Assessments to more than 100 days. Ontario and Nova Scotia issued more than 1,400 Invitations to Apply to Express Entry candidates in the first week of June. Canada’s 2019 admission target for its Provincial Nominee Program is 61,000, an increase of 6,000 over 2018’s target.
Canada Expands Cap on LGBTQ2 Refugee Program
Starting in 2020, Canada will be welcoming more LGBTQ2 refugees through its Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership. The sponsorship program, which launched its pilot phase in 2011, has since helped bring 80 LGBTQ2 refugees to Canada to start new lives. Though the program was formerly capped at 15 candidates per year, it will now raise that cap to 50—dramatically increasing the total number of individuals that it is able to assist. The announcement of this expansion falls during Toronto’s Pride Month.
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