2017: A pivotal year in Canadian immigration

2017: A pivotal year in Canadian immigration

2017 was a very busy year for Canadian Immigration and there is absolutely no doubt about it. There were quite some events which happened in 2017 which made Canada Immigration department to become a busy bee.

Thousands of individuals from the Haiti attack who were seeking asylum and from other countries to the increasing numbers announced by the Canada’s Express Entry selection system, 2017 was the year which kept the immigration system running to full throttle.

Canada had a very different year than its neighbor United States of America where the President of the States was continuously talking about how immigration could be serving as a threat to both the national security and the jobs for the American citizen.

However, Canada has given the message of opportunities and harmony on provincial and federal level. From Justin Trudeau to all the spokespersons for federal government and provincial government have been promoting this message only.

Canada’s Express Entry has been the torchbearer when it comes to providing immigration opportunities. The year started with the two year old immigration system of the federal government and it has shown its true potential by issuing 86,023 Invitations to Apply (ITA) to candidates which were divided into three categories.  The boom in the ITA’s was twice than 2016 which was33,782.

The Invitations to Apply ITA were issued based on the Comprehensive Ranking System score. Through this system the candidates gets a score based on the criteria of education and proficiency in English and also the skilled work experience.

2017 saw a boom in the issuance of ITAs because of the drop in the CRS score in the previous years. 453 was the lowest score in the year 2016 however, the most common cut-off scores in the 430s and 440s in 2017. In fact, at some point even as lowest as 413 and 415 were seen in various cases. Class specific draws were held in the Federal Skilled Trades Class in May and in November which pushed the CRS score even more to 199 and 241.

Another change which contributed to the drop in the CRS scoring was announced by the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in November 2016, reducing the number of points from 600 down between 50 and 200 which were awarded for a job offer. The impact of this change was significant as it was seen in the cut off scores of the draws in the first half of the year 2017. The scores dropped from 468 in January to 415 in April and then to 413 in May.

The change was done to give more weightage to the human capital factors which included education, skilled work experience and language. It was further enhanced by the introduction of additional CRS points for studies completed in Canada, having a sibling in Canada and proficiency in French language.

After the Express Entry, the second lead was taken by the Provincial Nominee Program. The PNPs proved to be very significant in nature and they allowed the provinces to nominate a pre-decided set of number of immigrants each year. The target for 2017 was 51,000 nominations for the federal government under Canada’s Provincial Nomination Programs.

The provinces and territories are able to welcome the newcomers more efficiently and effectively through these fast track programs. Each of the PNP is altered and formed in a way which would serve to the specific needs of the territory or the province and fulfill the labor demands.

Almost every PNP contains one stream which is aligned with the Express Entry pool system and they have been very active in 2017.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program’s Human Capital Priorities stream is an example to talk about which is a stream which has enabled the province to search the Express Entry pool and select the skilled workers who have a minimum of 400 CRS points along with the required education, language, work experience along with other characteristics to successfully settle them in the province.

The stream issued quite a number of Notification of Invitation in 2017 which also included an opening back in July which canceled the requirement of having 400 CRS points for Express Entry candidates having skilled experience in Information and Communications Technology-related occupations.

Express Entry Skilled Trades Stream was also introduced by Ontario in May which was purposely to target the skilled traders who are meeting the labor market needs of the province agricultural and construction sector.

The Express Entry programs of the regions Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia were also very active in 2017. The Express Entry component of Saskatchewan’s International Skilled Worker category was opened for five times in 2017 to around 3,200 applicants who wish to obtain the provincial nomination. The Nova Scotia Demand on the East Coast of Canada was opened on three occasions. The intake for the first come, first served basis was filled quickly and it was closed on the same day.

The benefits of Express Entry-aligned PNP streams have been becoming clearer with each passing year, and it should be no surprise that Alberta and Manitoba have also announced that they would be introducing an Express entry option this year.

Manitoba has announced its Express Entry pathway as part of the province nomination program on November 15th. Alberta has announced the Express Entry option along the stream of its Provincial Nominee Program which will take effect in 2018.

Canada’s Atlantic Provinces have also come together with the federal government to launch a new program which will be regionally focused, called the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP).

The Provincial Nominee Program focus on the labor market needs of either a single province or a territory, but the AIPP is innovative as it includes the provinces of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

All of the provinces have been facing the labor challenges and the three programs of the AIPP will address all the issues. It was introduced in March 2017 and it has been expected to facilitate around 2,000 immigrants into Atlantic Canada.

The federal government has stated it as a priority to reunite families in Canada and there has been some significant measures taken in the form of changes to help this objective in the past year.

The IRCC said in August, it has helped around 84,000 new residents to be selected on the basis of their family members living in Canada as a citizenor being a permanent resident. This movement represents 25 per cent of the planned immigration of Canada and also an increase of five per cent in 2016 Family Class immigration levels.

The 84,000 permanent residents which were welcomed in the country consisted of 64,000 spouses, common law partners and children and the rest 20,000 were the parents and the grandparents.

IRCC has promised that it would shorten the process time of the inland sponsorships for spouses or common law partners from 24 months to 12 months, making the application process easier. IRCC also announced the decision to give sponsored spouses and common-law Open Work Permit Pilot which would allow them to work in Canada while they are waiting for their applications to be processed. The federal government also removed the conditional permanent residence status for the common law partner and spouses.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) was also opened by IRCC in 2017 accepting 10,000 new applications. Moreover, the federal government also introduced a new online Interest to Sponsor form making the entire process to be more transparent and fair.

Another change which was done to the rules by the IRCC in governing family sponsorships was to increase the age of the dependents from 19 to 22.

The process of becoming a Canadian citizen from a Canadian permanent residence was expedited. Out of the many changes one of the most significant is the accumulation of three years residency out of the five years instead of the four years out of the six for permanent residency. The individuals who were living in Canada foreign worker, international student, or protected person before they have become a permanent residence can count that time of their stay in the residency days requirement. Each day which is spent in Canada on temporary basis would be counted as half a day.

The Multi Year Immigration Plan for the years 2018 till 2020 was announced by the IRCC. It has been said to be the most ambitious immigration levels in the history which would allow millions of immigrants to settle in Canada in the next three years.

The target of 310,000 new permanent residents settling in Canada in 2018 across all the categories has been set by the Immigration plan. The target would be increased to 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020.

The Express Entry categories would see a rise in the economic immigrants acquiring permanent residence by 20 per cent over 2017, from 71,000 to 85,800 in 2020. Provincial Nominee Programs allocations targets would also see a rise of 32 per cent and Family Class immigrants target would be increased by eight per cent.

The first six months of 2018 would be very important for the Canadian Immigration and in particular, for the Express Entry. Summarizing 2017, it can be said that it was a period which saw a boom in the ITAs and the drop off in the CRS scores. Now that the higher targets are set, it is possible that there would be more draws and even lower CRS scores.

Given the numbers, 2018 might be the year for the Express Entry candidates that they have been waiting for.

The Canadian Immigration policymakers have said that the changes which have been done in the immigration policies are not only an opportunity for the immigrants and their families, but they would be beneficial for the entire Canadian society.

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