Developments in Canada’s Immigration Policies and Protocols

Developments in Canada's immigration policies and protocols

Recent developments in Canada’s immigration policies and protocols have ensured that new permanent residents contribute positively to the country’s economic growth.

One of the landmark developments was in 1967 when the government created the Federal Skilled Worker Program (or FSWP). With the FSWP,  the immigration department had an objective system to determine whether individual applicants could successfully integrate into Canadian society. 

Amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Canadian government amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA, on February 28, 2008, identifying 50 occupations needed for continued economic growth. The list included senior managers, computer programmers, engineers, nurses, and early childhood workers. 

The modifications allowed the immigration minister to narrow the selection criteria while reducing immigration backlogs accumulated under the FSWP. Dubbed the Express Entry system, Applicants with at least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in any of these occupations garnering a minimum of 67 points from criteria such as age and education could apply. 

In compliance with the IRPA changes, Canada’s immigration department rejected 280,000 FSWP applications submitted on or after February 28, 2008. To lessen the sting of refusals, the immigration department gave those affected by the amendments a choice to request a refund of their fees then apply under the new criteria or fade away.

The Express Entry System is a Game Changer.

Bolstered by the streamlining brought by the 2008 IRPA amendment, the Canadian government went another step forward.

In January 2015, the immigration department launched an application management system-the Express Entry System-for the three federal economic immigration categories: the FSWP, Federal Skilled Trades Program or FSTP, and the Canadian Experience Class or CEC. Several Provincial Nominee Programs also opted to use the Express Entry System. 

One innovation of the electronic system is that applicants’ profiles remain in the Express Entry pool for a year. Candidates must then renew their applications to stay in the pool for future draws. Of course, the caveat is that candidates would become older with each successive renewal, thereby losing points based on age. 

Despite the downside for overseas professionals and workers, applications continued to pour in, lured by the promise of shorter processing for those selected by the new system.

On an aside, a new federal Canadian administration took office later in 2015. In November that year, the immigration department, formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada, was renamed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC.

Is immigration history repeating itself?

Now, the Express Entry immigrant selection system appears to be a victim of its own success. 

IRCC holds Express Entry draws every two weeks. With 191,279 profiles in the candidate pool by January 3, 2016, the Express Entry system disqualified 88,048 applications that did not meet the criteria of at least one of the federal economic classes.

By March 2020, the Express Entry draw cut-offs were historically high, suggesting that many selected candidates were already in Canada.

At the end of 2020, there were 360,998 candidates in the candidates’ pool. But though were three federal programs that candidates may qualify for, the Immigration Minister selected qualified candidates for only two programs: the CEC and PNP. 

The consequence of this selection? Another huge backlog from a deluge of FSTP and overseas FSW applications resulted in processing coming to a standstill.

A distinct bias for candidates living in Canada.

The year after the pandemic began was eventful for Canadian immigration.

In 2021, IRCC selected candidates for CEC and PNP. However, the overwhelming majority of qualified candidates (99,653) were for CEC. In contrast, the 2021 PNP harvest was 5,206 applicants despite more PNP streams for which candidates may qualify.

The first shockwave was on April 14, 2021, when IRCC implemented a Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway (TR2PR) for some temporary residents currently living in Canada:

  • Professionals and skilled workers in an essential occupation or a health or health services field.
  • Recent graduates from a post-secondary institution in Canada.

This temporary public policy ended on November 5, 2021. Ontario welcomed more than half of the new permanent residents under the TR2PR program, followed by British Columbia, then Alberta.  

The second event came weeks after closing the temporary program. IRCC sent a memorandum to the Deputy Immigration Ministers of Canada extending the pause on Express Entry Rounds from November 2021 to January 31, 2022. One of the reasons cited was the sufficient number of applicants to meet the admission target for 2023. Déjà vu, anyone?

The third event came in the first week of December. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed he had submitted new mandate letters to the cabinet, outlining each department’s priorities for the remainder of their term.

For the new immigration minister, Sean Fraser, the mandate letter would be impacting federal and provincial policies.

All is not lost: mandate letters outline salient points for the future.

The Prime Minister outlined the direction of the immigration department on several fronts. With the changes, international students and skilled workers applying from overseas will have more opportunities and routes to apply for permanent residence such as:

  • Additional Express Entry pathways.
  • A new Municipal Nominee Program to better distribute immigration across the provinces. 
  • Hiring temporary foreign workers will be more efficient with a Trusted Employer System.
  • Simplified work permit renewal once the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is improved.
  • Building on existing pilot programs to regularize the status of undocumented workers in Canada.

This post is a synopsis of Mr. Crispin Aranda’s article in the Manila Times on January 31, 2022.

You may read the original post here: Canada throwing migrant babies out with the bathwater?