The Global Skills Strategy (GSS) was launched by the Government of Canada in June 2017 to give Canadian employers fast and reliable access to top talent globally.The GSS has four pillars:
- Processing of work permits applications in two weeks for high skilled workers, thereby providing Canadian employers an edge in recruitment.
- Allowing for work permit exemptions for highly skilled talents coming to Canada for 30 days or less and researchers coming for 120 days or less.
- Implementation of a dedicated service channel to help meet the needs of companies seeking to make a job-creating investment. As at May 2018, nearly a hundred companies have been referred for immigration help.
- Facilitation by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) of LMIA for companies seeking unique talent using the Global Talent Stream.
Visa Application Centres
Visa Application Centres (VAC) are managed by third-party service providers, these companies are authorised to provide specific services to visa applicants under the terms of a formal contract with the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. By November 2019, Canada will have at least 149 VAC locations in 99 countries, which is one of the most extensive visa application networks globally; this means by this date, 96% visa applicants will have access to a VAC office.
On April 16, 2018, Government announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; with the aim of striking a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services and updating the policy to bring it in line with current views of exclusivity. The changes are:
- increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to 3 times the previous level, and
- amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.
Government has reduced the fee for minors (under 18 years), wanting to apply for Citizenship from $530 to $100.
The government will make an initial $50 million available to the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, these are provinces which have borne the costs associated with temporary housing. The government has also invested $173.2 million through budget 2018 towards managing irregular migration. This funding will be used to support the intake of new asylum claims, front-end security screening procedures, eligibility processing, reviews and interventions at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), removal of unsuccessful claimants, and detention and removal of those who pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians. The government is also issuing work permits to asylum seekers in order for them to work while their applications is being processed; this will lessen the burden on Canadian tax payers as they will be less dependent of social support.
IRCC announced on June 8, 2018 a new program known as Student Direct Stream (SDS), which is available to students applying for a study permit from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. Students from those countries who demonstrate upfront that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada will benefit from faster processing times.
To qualify for SDS, applicants need to meet additional requirements, in particular language levels that are stricter than regular study permit requirements. Students who do not have all of the additional information required for SDS can apply through the regular study permit application process, either online or at a Visa Application Centre.
Canada signed a new bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Portugal on May 3, 2018. This new arrangement on youth mobility will open further channels of exchange between Canadian and Portuguese youths aged 18 to 35 to work and travel through the Working Holiday, International Co-op, and Young Professional streams of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. The IEC program facilitates the process for young people to gain valuable international work experience and travel abroad.
Canada-UAE Visa Agreement
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced on May 28, 2018 that the government is lifting the visa requirement for UAE citizens on June 5, 2018. The decision is based on a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the UAE against Canada's visa policy criteria. The evaluation found that the UAE meets Canada's criteria for visa exemption. Emirati citizens will no longer need a visa to travel to Canada for short stays (normally for up to six months) for business, to visit family and friends or for tourism.
Global Skills Strategy
A recently introduced highly skilled foreign tech workers program aimed at attracting the best tech professionals to Canada has seen more than 2,000 people already applying. This program introduced two and half months ago is to fast track tech talents to Canada with the aim of cutting visa processing time from months to just two weeks. The program will help companies get foreign talents to fill critical roles quickly and so make businesses expand.
Quebec's Bill 62
A new law in Quebec banning face coverings for anyone who receives or provides public services is causing some Muslim students to reconsider the idea of pursuing their education in Quebec. The passing of the Bill which prohibit anyone wearing a face covering from receiving a provincial or municipal service such as public transit, has sparked a strong public backlash.
Changes to take effect on October 11, 2017:
The Hon. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen announced on October 4, 2017 that the following changes to the Citizenship Act will take effect on October 11, 2017:
- Applicants must be physically present in Canada for three (3) years out of five (5) years before applying for citizenship.
- Applicants must file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three (3) years, matching the new physical presence requirement.
- Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, before becoming a permanent resident, as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days, within five years preceding the date of application.
- Applicants between 18 and 54 years must meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.
Amended Citizenship Act:
Bill C-6, an Act to Amend the Citizenship Act received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017. This Act introduced fundamental changes to Canada's citizenship requirements. The Act repealed certain provisions that made for different treatment of dual citizens from other Canadians.
Changes that take immediate effect:
- Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This will provide more flexibility to Canadians who may need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.
- Repeal the ability to revoke citizenship from dual citizens convicted of crimes against national interest. Dual citizens living in Canada who are convicted of these crimes will face the Canadian justice system, like other Canadian citizens who break the law.
- More flexibility to be given to older and younger eligible immigrants to obtain citizenship by reducing the age range for people to meet language and knowledge requirements for citizenship from 14 years - 64 years to 18 years - 54 years.
- Counting some of the time spent in Canada as temporary residents or protected persons toward their physical presence requirements for citizenship.
- Reducing the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada to three out of five years, instead of four out of six years, before applying for citizenship.
- Strengthening the citizenship revocation process by having the Federal Court as the decision maker on most cases, thereby enhancing the procedural fairness of the process.
New age for dependants:
The government announced on May 3, 2017 regulatory changes to increase the maximum age of a dependent child from "under 19" to "under 22", this will come into effect on October 24, 2017. By this increase, more families, especially of refugees will be able to be reunited in Canada and this will enable government fulfil one of the cardinal policy of Canadian immigration, which is to enable family reunification.
The government of Canada announced on April 28, 2017 the elimination of conditional permanent residence for spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This was done in order to uphold its commitment to gender equality.The changes applies to anyone presently subject to the requirement of living with their sponsor for two years before applying for permanent residency and also future applicants under the program.
Number of Countries requiring eTA visa increased:
Effective May 1, 2017 citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania who have held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid U.S non-immigrant will be eligible to apply to Canada for an eTA, instead of a visitor visa to travel to Canada by air. Those who do not meet these criteria or are travelling to Canada by car, bus, train, or boat will still need a visitor visa.
Express Entry: Upcoming changes to Comprehensive Ranking System:
Effective June 6, 2017 French language speakers and candidates with siblings in Canada will receive additional points under the comprehensive ranking system. Furthermore, the need to register with the Canada job bank has been waived, this will now be optional.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announced in Geneva on March 15, 2017 government's contribution of $5.6 million to support global resettlement initiatives. The funding will pay for the recruitment and deployment of refugee experts to work with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the screening and submission of refugees in need of resettlement.
In response to the increasing numbers of refugees around the world, many countries have announced that they will welcome additional Syrian refugees. The UNHCR needs additional funding to substantially increase its capacity to provide referrals, advice and support to countries seeking to offer protection and solutions to refugees.
Canada's Changing Demographics:
A new Statistics Canada survey published January 25, 2017 says almost half of Canada's population could be an immigrant or the child of an immigrant within 20 years.It suggests that the proportion of immigrants in Canada could reach 30% in 2036 and a further 20% of the population would be the child of an immigrant. Researcher concluded more than half of the country's immigrants will be of Asian origin within the next two decades, visible minorities would make up a growing percentage of the working age population, defined as people between the ages of 15 and 64 years.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program:
Canada announced this new immigration program on January 27, 2017. Under this new program, about 2,000 newcomers may submit an application for permanent residence in 2017 in the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. AIPP has three categories, namely the Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP) that targets candidates with a qualifying job offer for a one-year contract for full-time employment in a position at level 0, A, or B of the National Occupational Classification. There is also the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP), targeting candidates with a qualifying job offer of indeterminate duration for full-time employment in a position at level 0, A, B, or C of the National Occupational Classification. Finally, there is the Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP), targeting international graduates of post-secondary study programs of at least two years' duration, undertaken at a publicly funded institution in Atlantic Canada, the graduates are expected to have a qualifying job offer.
Canada limits the number of privately sponsored Syrian refugee applicants in 2017:
The Government of Canada has introduced a cap of 1,000 people for groups-of-five and community sponsorship applications for 2017. IRCC stated the cap was introduced to address the backlog in processing applications and that the number of admissions in 2017 is expected to double that of 2015. Since November 2015, Canada has accepted more than 38,000 Syrian refugees of which 21,000 are government-assisted and 13,000 privately sponsored.
Changes to 2017 Parent and Grandparent program application intake process:
Family reunification is a key immigration commitment of the Government of Canada. The honourable Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum announced changes to the intake process under the above mentioned program. Effective December 14, 2016 applicants will now have 30 days to fill out an online form indicating their interest. IRCC will then randomly choose 10,000 individuals from those who filled out the form and those people will be invited to send their complete application package. The online form will be available starting January 3, 2017. Sponsors will have 30 days to submit the form.
Government delivering faster processing and shorter wait times:
The Government of Canada is making it easier and faster for Canadians and permanent residents to reunite with their spouses. Since the beginning of 2016, the processing times have been reduced by 15% for in-Canada applications and just over 10% for applications outside of Canada. IRCC has set a target of a maximum of 12 months for processing spousal sponsorship applications. These new changes are expected to benefit more than 64,000 applicants by the end of 2017.
Improvements to Express Entry:
The Government of Canada introduced changes to the Express Entry program, effective November 19, 2016. Improvements include awarding points for job offers to eligible candidates already in Canada on LMIA exempt work permit, and to international students who complete d their studies in Canada. In addition more time will be allocated to permanent residence once an invitation to apply is received.
Express Entry Ministerial Instructions of November 19, 2016:
- Remove the Labour Market Impact Assessment requirement for certain qualifying job offers to receive Comprehensive Ranking System points for a job offer:
- Reduce the employment duration for a job offer from indeterminate to a minimum of one year from the time a visa for permanent resident is issued
- Add Comprehensive Ranking System points for Canadian educational credentials:
- Extend the period to submit an application for permanent residence once invited to apply from 60 days to 90 days
- To replace the term "Job Bank" by its legal name "Job Bank for Job Seekers" as well as ESDC by "Canada Employment Insurance Commission"
- To indicate that the validity period for spouse language test results is two years
- To clarify that that 25 or 50 Comprehensive Ranking System points are assigned to candidates with a Master's degree, a Doctoral degree, or an entry-to-practice professional degree and Canadian work experience or good first official language proficiency.
Future Direction of Canadian Immigration
Ministers Meet To Discuss Future Immigration Planning:
Canadian ministers of immigration from the federal, provincial and territorial levels met on October 12, 2016 to discuss the future of immigration in Canada. Ministered discussed how immigration can support sustainable long-term economic growth across the country while celebrating diversity and encouraging the inclusion of all newcomers to Canada.
Ministers also discussed the need for a more responsive immigration system that attracts and retains global talent to deliver economic benefits to all jurisdictions. There was general agreement that immigration plays an important role in helping build a welcoming and strong country and the need to further assist newcomers to Canada settle quicker and refugees find their place in a country that is tolerant and welcoming.
Changes to study permit issuance:
IRCC has amended the conditions for issuing study permits to students whose admission is conditional on their completing a language program before commencing on their main course of study. Prior to the change a student whose admission is conditional to completing a language program is issued a study permit to cover both programs. In response to the abuse by students who completion of their language program abandon their study for work, IRCC has stated that it will no longer issue study permits to cover two different programs. The new procedure is that international students who wish to pursue their main program after completing the prerequisite language program must reapply for another study permit.
Removal of visa requirements for more EU nationals:
Canada may remove visa requirement for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania:
In line with EU policy on visa reciprocity with Canada, Canada has been required to lift visa requirements for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania. The policy requires that countries whose citizens do not need EU visas must in return allow visa-free travel for EU nationals.
If visa requirements is lifted for nationals from these two countries the implication is that it will make travel to Canada easier and less expensive for them. They will no longer need to apply for temporary resident visas in order to visit, study or work in Canada, all they will require is eTA. However if they arrive in Canada by land or sea they will need only have their passport.
Canada lifts travel visa requirement to Mexico:
Effective December 1, 2016 Mexicans will no longer need to apply for temporary resident visas in order to visit, work or study in Canada. They will only need to apply for eTA if travelling by air and if by land or sea, they only need to have their travel documents; passports checked at the Canadian Port of Entry.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):
Electronic Travel Authorization is now in effect for visitors from visa-exempt countries. Visitors from these countries are now required to have this document when visiting Canada, even if on transit. This requirement does not apply to citizens of the United States. Obtaining this document can be done online and normally takes a few minutes, however there are instances when the process can take several days, so it is advisable to obtain this early enough before anticipated travel date.
Federal Government deepens Immigration synergy with the provinces
Newfoundland and Labrador:
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on July 7, 2016 signed the first bilateral framework immigration agreement with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The framework sets out joint objectives and defines the roles and responsibilities of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador in relation to how they work together on immigration.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on July 4, 2016 met with premiers of Atlantic Canada where the Atlantic Growth Strategy was announced to help stimulate economic growth in the region. The first area of focus will be immigration and skilled labour. The program is expected to launch in 2017, with a pilot project to attract and retain newcomers in Atlantic Canada.
National conversation on immigration:
The Canadian government has commenced on July 5, 2016 a national conversation on immigration. Canadians are to send on-line written submissions on their expectations on Canadian immigration. The feedback received by government will be used as a guide in formulating future immigration policies. The last date for submissions in August 5, 2016.
Proposed Bill C- 24:
Canadian government is in the process of amending part of the Citizenship Act, with the introduction in parliament of Bill C-24. The proposed legislation will repeal provisions that allow citizenship to be revoked from dual citizens who engage in certain acts against national interest. The Bill also proposes to reduce the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada before qualifying for citizenship by a year. Also the Bill would credit applicants for citizenship for the time spent in Canada as temporary residents or protected persons. Furthermore, the age range required to take the language and knowledge tests would be 18 years to 54 years as against the present 14 years to 64 years.
Skilled Francophone workers
Attracting Skilled Francophone Workers to Canada:
The federal government is encouraging skilled Francophone workers to settle in communities outside of the province of Quebec. With the proposed launch of the International Mobility Program Stream on June 1, 2016. The program will exempt employers from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process when they hire Francophone workers in managerial, professional and technical/skilled trades occupations from abroad to work in Francophone minority communities outside of Quebec. The goal of IRCC is to have Francophone newcomers make up at least 4% of all economic immigrants settling outside of the province of Quebec by 2018.
Federal Government Immigration Plan for 2016:
On March 8, 2016 IRCC Minister John McCallum announced that Canada will welcome a greater number of immigrants in 2016, with special emphasis on family reunification. The plan is to bring in between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016. The Minister outlined this in the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.
Economic immigrants will make up the majority of new immigrants with a projected number of 160,000, this comprises skilled workers, skilled trades and caregivers. In 2016, government's projection is to bring in 60,000 sponsored spouses, parents and children and 20,000 parents and grandparents. It is anticipated that this will help reduce the family reunification backlog.
The government is also committed to admitting greater numbers of refugees and protected persons in 2016. It aims to bring in 25,000 government-assisted refugees, 44,800 resettled refugees and 17,800 privately-sponsored refugees.
Additional months granted Haiti and Zimbabwe nationals to apply for permanent residence visa:
Effective February 5, 2016 the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness have given nationals from Haiti and Zimbabwe an additional six months to apply for permanent residence without the risk of removal. The additional six months is in addition to the six months earlier granted to the nationals of these countries following the lifting of the temporary suspension of removals to Haiti and Zimbabwe on December 1, 2014.
In support of this reinstated measure, the Canada Border Services Agency will again defer any removals pending a final decision on the Humanitarian and Compassionate applications by citizens of the above mentioned countries.
In response to the government of Canada's commitment to welcome 25,000 Syrians refugees, many municipalities have expressed an interest in welcoming Government-Assisted Refugees and integrating them into their communities. These municipalities are being invited to develop a Community Partnership Settlement Plan, which prepares them to welcome Government-Assisted Refugees.
Effective March 15, 2016 visa-exempt foreign nationals will require Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to Canada. U.S. citizens are exempt from eTA requirement.
For those issued study or work permit on or before July 31, 2015 they need to apply for an eTA if they wish to enter or return to Canada by air. For those whose study or work permit was issued on or after August 1, 2015 they were automatically issued an eTA with their study or work permit.
On December 9, 2015 Canada announced additional funding for resettlement and settlement providers. Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) service providers will receive a 25 percent increase to 2015 funding ($3.6 million) this is to ensure that they have supports in place as soon as refugees arrive in Canada.
It is expected that over the next 4 years a total of $335 million will be used for settlement and resettlement services. Approximately $94.5 million of that money will be used to provide income support to refugees. RAP play a vital role in helping Syrian refugees integrate into communities across Canada. They provide airport reception, assistance with customs at the port of entry, temporary accommodations and basic orientation for life in Canada. They also provide language training, help with interpreters, finding employment and connections to communities.
Government-assisted refugees (GARs) will be sent to cities where organizations with services specifically for refugees are located. Minister McCallum recently met with provincial, territorial immigration ministers and mayors of refugees receiving cities to discuss refugee assistance preparedness and the need to put in place specialized health services that will assist needing refugees with post trauma issues.
Ministers discuss Canada's resettlement plans:
On December 1, 2015 Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for immigration met in Ottawa to reaffirm their commitment to welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada. The meeting focused on the preparations for the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February 2016 and the type of welcome communities across Canada should offer. Refugee allocation quotas between Provinces and Territories and detailed welcome plans were also finalized.
The Canadian government has earmarked $678 million over 6 years towards expanding the resettlement and ensuring integration support for Syrian refugees. The government assisted refugees will be resettled in more than 36 communities while privately sponsored refugees will go to even more communities.
Ministers meet with refugees in Jordan:
On November 29, 2015 Ministers John McCallum (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), Jane Philpott (Health) and Harjit S. Sajjan (National Defence) concluded their visit to Jordan. While in Jordan, they visited the Za'atari refugee camp outside of Amman and interacted with some of the refugees. They also obtained first-hand, the critical situation on ground as this camp is home to approximately 80,000 refugees.
The Ministers also attended the opening of the new Syrian processing centre in Amman where they interacted with both refugees and Canadian officials responsible for processing refugees files.
Canada prepares to welcome Syrian refugees:
As at November 24, 2015 Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada is actively processing 4,511 files of Syrian refugees who have been sponsored by organizations and groups. The majority of the privately sponsored refugees will arrive before the end of December 2015 as their applications are already in process.
This number will contribute to the goal of bringing 10,000 Syrians by December 31, 2015. They will be resettled in communities across Canada where funded service providing organizations with support services are available to help integrate them.
On June 19, 2015 the Government of Canada introduced the Oath of Citizenship Act which will ensure that Canadians are seen and heard while taking the Oath of Citizenship.
Swearing or affirming the Oath is a legal requirement which indicates a public declaration that an applicant is committed to upholding Canadian values. The Act recognizes that Canadian citizenship confers both rights and responsibilities, in 2014 a total of 3,121 citizenship ceremonies were conducted in Canada with about 262,000 new citizens.
On June 18, 2015 Canada's "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices" Act received Royal Assent. The Act seeks to protect individuals most vulnerable to unwholesome practices, mainly women and children. Key features of the Act are:
- It will render inadmissible to Canada any non-Canadian citizen who practices polygamy.
- The Act has strengthen the Civil Marriage Act by codifying existing legal requirements at the federal level for "free and enlightened consent" and also established a new national absolute minimum age of 16 years for marriage.
- It also criminalized certain conducts related to early and forced marriage ceremonies. It is now an offence to remove a child from Canada for the purpose of such marriage.
- The Act limits the defence of provocation with respect to "honour killings" and many spousal homicides. A new court ordered peace bond will be created to protect potential victims of early or forced marriages where there are grounds to fear that a person may commit a forced or early marriage offence.
- The number of years required of applicants to be physically present in Canada before they can apply for citizenship has been increased to 4 years out of 6 years, unlike previously when it was 3 years in 4 years. Furthermore, the applicant must spend at least 183 days in each of the 4 years in Canada.
- Time earlier spent in Canada prior to obtaining permanent resident status is now irrelevant when calculating days spent in Canada.
- All applicants must declare their intention to reside in Canada before Canadian citizenship is granted.
- The age bracket for waiver of language and knowledge tests has been increased to 14 to 64 years as against the earlier 18 to 54 years.
Port of Entry:
The government of Canada announced on Thursday June 4, 2015 that it will expand biometric screening to cover flights arriving into Canada from 150 countries from the present 29 countries.
This measure is intended to catch suspected fraudsters and previously deported persons who by-pass the current system by entering Canada through countries not on Canada's target list.
It will also help identify terrorists and Canadian jihadists returning from overseas. The government has earmarked Can$312.6 million over 5 years to expand biometric screening to all foreign nationals with the exclusion of US citizens.
Effective May 29, 2015 the government of Canada can revoke Canadian citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism and high treason, and/or spying for foreign governments.
Citizenship can also be revoked from dual citizens for taking up arms against Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, whether as a member of a foreign army or in non-state terrorist groups.
U.S/Canada Border Crossings:
On March 16, 2015 Canada's Minister for Public Safety Steven Blaney and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson signed a custom pre-clearance agreement which aims to speed up custom screening at their land borders. The agreement would allow custom agents from both countries enter each other's territory to screen passengers. It is intended that this will ease the coke points experienced at border crossings. The process already exist in air travel at eight Canadian airports and is now being extended to U.S/Canada border crossings. This agreement is subject to legislative approval by both countries parliament.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on February 2, 2015 that the first batch of 779 top ranked candidates under the new system have been invited to apply for permanent resident by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
All candidates have a valid offer of employment from a Canadian employer or are nominees under the provincial nominee program. Most candidates are in the natural and applied sciences professions, industrial, electrical and construction trades.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on 07 November 2014 that 103,999 foreign students were issued study permit from January to September 2014. Five countries accounted for more than half of the numbers, these are China (29,414), India (13,758), South Korea (7,284), France (7,045) and the United States (4,847). It is estimated that international students contribute more than $8 billion to the Canadian economy annually.
Canada introduced major changes to the caregiver program in November 2014. Under the new program the requirement that caregivers "live-in" the home of their employers for two (2) years before applying for permanent residency has been removed.
However, unlike the previous program they will no longer have universal access to permanent resident status on the completion of their two (2) employment.
Other changes introduced are:
- They must have at least 1 year post-secondary study in Canada or an equivalent foreign diploma or certificate.
- Have a minimum of level 5 in either English or French and if they are registered nurses or psychiatric nurses, the minimum language requirement is level 7.
- The new program does not allow appeals on humanitarian and compassionate grounds for dependents of caregivers.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on 10, October 2014 that the list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) has been increased to 42 countries with the inclusion of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Romania and San Mario.
The policy was introduced to deter refugee claimants from countries that respect human rights and offer state protection to their citizens.
Since the introduction of DCO there has been 88 percent drop in asylum claims from these countries and it now takes on average 3 - 4 months to hear a refugee application as against 20 months prior to it's introduction.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander launched on October 10, 2014 Business Express program for Bulgaria and Romania. This program will make it easier for business travellers from these countries to enter Canada and it will also shorten visa issuance to about 3 days.
Canada had earlier established this program with India, China and Mexico.
Temporary Foreign Workers Program:
Government announced changes to the temporary foreign workers program on June 20, 2014. Some of the changes are the introduction of Labour Market Impact Assessment to replace the Labour Market Opinion.
Labour Market Impact Assessment:
Under this new assessment criteria, applications submitted prior to June 20, 2014 that are considered low-wage and where an opinion had not been obtained will not be processed.
Employers who have submitted applications for these low-wage positions will have their $275 application fees refunded with the option of reapplying under the new criteria.
Under LMIA, workers assessment will be based on the median wage of their prospective employer's province or territory. The Province of Quebec is not included.
LMIA requires that Canadian employers obtain government approval before hiring a foreign worker. This approval process is known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment.
This new assessment criteria is more restrictive than the old Labour Market Opinion and in addition new time limits have been placed on work permits that require LMIA.
Workers who fall within the low-wage bracket will be issued work permit with a maximum validity period of only 1 year.
Government has also implied that the maximum validity period for high-wage workers will also be cut to a maximum of 2 years.
International Mobility Program:
Work permits that are LMIA exempt are now known as international mobility programs. These LMIA exempt work permits generally fall under the NAFTA or the Intra-Company Transfer programs and usually applicable to specific employers.
It is expected that at a future date to be specified by government, Canadian employers will need to submit their job offers to foreign workers to CIC for approval, before the worker can apply for a work permit.
Employers will need to pay $230 processing fees to have their job offer evaluated while the foreign worker will pay $155 work permit application fees.
Open Work Permit:
Successful applicants of the open work permit will be required to pay $100 "privilege fee" in addition to the application fee of $155. This will become operational at a future date.
Persons eligible to apply for the open work permit are spouses of foreign workers, students in Canada and participants in certain work exchange programs.
On August 1, 2014 Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that recent changes to the "Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act" has led to noticeable reductions in backlogs in citizenship applications.
Government has increased the number of decision makers which has invariably quicken citizenship application processing. It is expected the wait times will be no longer than 1 year by 2015/16.
Furthermore, effective 1, August 2014 a uniform system for judicial review of citizenship decisions come into effect. Citizenship officers have been given more authority to refuse incomplete applications packages.
On 19, June 2014 Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that reforms to the Citizenship Act has received Royal Assent. This Act will ensure that new citizens are better prepared for full participation and integration into Canadian society.
Key features of the Act:
- Citizenship applicants must be physically present in Canada for a total of 4 years out of their last 6 years before an application is submitted.
- The Language and knowledge of Canada tests has now been extended to include applicants ages 14 - 64. This is expected to improve new citizens language proficiency in one of Canada's official languages and also help with integration.
- In order to crack down on citizenship fraud, a new penalty regime has been introduced. For indictable offences the fine has been increased to a maximum of $100,000 and/or 5 years in prison while for summary offences the fine is up to a maximum of $50,000 and/or 2 years in prison.
- Under the amended Act citizenship revocation cases will now be decided by the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, or his delegate and the Federal Court. The Governor in Council will no longer be part of the process. The Minister will decide a vast majority of cases as he will decide matters involving residence fraud, identity fraud, treason and spying offences. The Federal Court will decide cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, international or human rights violations as these raise more complex legal issues.
- The amended Act place a permanent bar against granting of citizenship to individuals whose citizenship has been revoked on grounds of membership of an organized armed group. Persons convicted of treason and spying offences will also be permanently barred.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on April 8, 2014 that the Economic Immigration program commencing in January 2015 will be known as "Express Entry".
This program is expected to be a fast, flexible and focus Immigration program that will meet the labour needs of Canada. Under this program, candidates who receive a valid job offer or "nomination" from a province will be invited to apply for permanent residency.
This "Express Entry" will apply to four Immigration streams, Federal skilled worker program, Federal skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and some portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs.
Canada's new active Immigrant recruitment policy:
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers met in Ottawa on March 18, 2014 and agreed to continue collaborating on building the active recruitment model known as "Expression of Interest" system.
The system is intended to transform Canada's immigration system into one that is more responsive to labour market needs.
EOI will provide Canadian employers access to skilled foreign workers and expedite their entry into Canada for jobs that are not being filled by Canadians. This new system is intended to fill the skills gap in the Canadian labour market.
The new system will be launched in January 2015.
Settlement outcomes for newcomers:
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers agreed to improve settlement outcomes for newcomers across Canada. They proposed improved pre-arrival services, language learning for newcomers who are presently not in the workforce and ways of encouraging newcomers to be more connected to their communities.
March is fraud prevention month, this year Citizenship and Immigration Canada is collaborating with ICCRC and Federation of Law Societies of Canada to promote awareness of immigration fraud by prospective immigrants to Canada.
Ministers Chris Alexander (Citizenship) and Peter MacKay (Justice) announced in Halifax on February 21, 2014 that the proposed amendments in the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act will extend citizenship to most lost Canadians.
These are persons who were born before the first Canadian Citizenship Act took effect in 1947 as well as to their children who were born outside Canada in the first generation.
Changes in Temporary Resident Visa Fees:
Effective February 6, 2014 visitors to Canada will automatically be considered for multiple-entry visa. This will enable those qualified for this visa enter and leave Canada for 6 months at a time for up to 10 years without having to reapply each time within that period.
Also the fees for a multiple-entry visa has been reduced to CAD$100 from CAD$150. However, fees for study permit applications has been increased by CAD$25, CAD$5 for work permit applications, CAD$25 for extension to remain in Canada applications for visitors. The fees for family temporary resident visa application has been increased by CAD$100 to CAD$500.
Study in Canada:
Effective June 1, 2014 only students enrolled at designated educational institutions will be issued study permits.
Each province/territory will determine the eligibility of their educational institutions to offer admissions to international students.
Furthermore, all international students issued study permits are automatically eligible to work on/off campus for a maximum period of 20 hours per week during their session and 30 hours per week during the holidays.
They will not be required to apply for work permits, once they hold a study permit. This new regulation does not apply to students taking ESL programs (English as a Second Language).
Cracking down on citizenship fraud
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced in Calgary on February 19, 2014 that government is committed to tackling citizenship fraud through measures proposed in Bill C-24 (Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act).
Under the proposed legislation, government will have the authority to develop regulations that will designate a regulatory body whose members would be authorized to act as consultants on citizenship matters.
"Bill C-24 reinforces the value of citizenship by cracking down on fraud and ensuring Canadian citizenship is only offered to those who play by the rules".
- stronger penalties for fraud or misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or 5 years in prison);
- expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality;
- making it an offence for unauthorized individuals to knowingly represent or advise a person on a citizenship application or hearing for a fee.
Investor and Entrepreneur Programs:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the intention to eliminate these two programs. The government will replace these two programs with pilot programs that will ensure that immigrants who come to Canada deliver meaningful benefits to the economy. Details of the new pilot programs will be announced in the coming months.
New Asylum System:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander stated in Toronto on 22 January 2014 that the comprehensive reforms to the asylum system has been a major success. It is saved Canadian taxpayers over $600 million in health-care and education costs and has also freed the system of frivolous claims from DCO claimants. This in turn has made it possible for genuine refugees to have their claims heard faster and fairer. The overall reduction in claims is about 87% and there are further reductions expected within the next 5 years with anticipated saves over $1.5 billion.
Super Visa Applications:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on 2 January 2014, major changes to the super visa process. The income threshold for sponsors has been increased to above 30% of minimum national income for sponsors. Also sponsors tax returns with the Canada Revenue Agency will be assessed based on the past 3 years.
Start-up Visa new business incubator stream introduced:
Minister Alexander announced a new visa stream to attract foreign entrepreneurs to Canada. The new stream will complement existing venture capital and angel investor streams. The business incubator stream will provide entrepreneurs with valuable mentorship and help them to attract investors and grow their start-ups into sustainable businesses. The new stream began accepting applications on October 26, 2013 as a pilot project.
Citizenship application process:
Citizenship applicants who fail their first Citizenship test will now have the opportunity to rewrite the test rather than wait for an appointment with a Citizenship judge.
Helping Skilled Immigrants in Ontario:
The governments of Ontario and Canada are expanding the Ontario Bridge Training Program, helping thousands of skilled immigrants get licensed and find jobs in their fields. To date this program has supported 50,000 highly skilled immigrants by providing such services as education and skilled assessments, clinical or workplace experience, occupation-related language training and exam preparation for professional licensing.
Improving the Canadian Experience Class:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on November 8, 2013 changes to improve the Canadian Experience Class.
Effective November 9, 2013, CIC will introduce sub-caps of 200 applications each in certain skilled occupations. Also between November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014, CIC will accept a maximum of 12,000 new applications under the Canadian Experience Class.
The following six occupations will no longer be eligible starting November 9, 2013:
- food service supervisors
- administrative officers
- administrative assistants
- accounting technicians and bookkeepers
- retail sales supervisors