Canada’s immigration system has introduced a number of major reforms over the last 12 months – and more are on the way.
Immigration minister Jason Kenney (pictured above) says with record numbers of immigrants arriving in the country, plans are underway to further strengthen system integrity and economic benefits that immigration brings.
The Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister says, “Our government has a plan for a faster, more flexible, responsive and secure immigration system that will better meet Canada’s economic needs while continuing to uphold our humanitarian commitments.
“With our changes, immigrants will see their lives improve, and Canadians will see the economy grow.”
The changes introduced during the past year include introducing and passing:
- the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act that reforms the asylum system to make it faster and fairer, combats human smuggling and allows biometric data to be collected from visa applicants;
- the Economic Action Plan 2012, which makes the economic stream faster and more flexible to boost jobs, growth and prosperity. The changes cleared the way for a new, Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and eliminated a backlog and wait times of more than seven years for skilled worker applicants;
- the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, that will close attempts by convicted foreign criminals to delay deportation and remain in Canada.
There have also been regulatory changes. As part of the Canadian government’s commitment to family reunification, it has:
- introduced the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, valid for up to 10 years for visits of up to two years, that has attracted nearly 3,700 successful applications in its first six months;
- cut the backlog for sponsored parents and grandparents.
Other changes have been introduced to crack down on fraud and abuse in the system by:
- preventing marriage fraud by barring sponsored spouses from sponsoring a new spouse for at least five years and proposing a new two-year period of conditional permanent residency for some sponsored spouses;
- cracking down on crooked immigration representatives;
- fighting residence fraud in citizenship and permanent residence by enhancing integrity measures and working with the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP on investigations into suspected false representation and fraud;
- launching a new tip phone line through Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) Call Centre to report suspected citizenship fraud cases;
- reforming the Interim Federal Health Program to act as a disincentive for people not needing Canada’s protection and to ensure that failed claimants do not receive additional health care to Canadians;
- protecting vulnerable workers by refusing visas and work permits for foreigners.
Recognizing the vital role of immigration in the Canadian economy, and growing labour shortages in some areas, the government has also:
- proposed improvements to the FSWP to place greater emphasis on selection criteria that encourages better labour market outcomes, so Canada can select skilled workers that quickly find and settle into jobs;
- reduced the backlog of Federal Skilled Worker applications before February 2008 by over three-quarters, from 640,000 to almost 150,000
- proposed a new Federal Skilled Trades Program;
- suggested changes to the Canadian Experience Class to make it easier for talented skilled workers proficient in English or French, with Canadian educational credentials and work experience who are already doing well in Canada to gain permanent residence
- improved the Live-in Caregiver Program by speeding the process of issuing open work permits to caregivers to establish their own homes and seek jobs in other fields;
- increased the number of provincial nominees and distribution of newcomers across Canada;
- in partnership with provincial and territorial partners, introduced new minimum language requirements for immigrants under the Provincial Nominee Program, helping social, economic and cultural integration;
- expanded a pilot project with the Government of Alberta to help provincial employers seeking highly skilled foreign workers to fill acute, regional labour shortage;
- introduced a new immigration stream to attract and retain international PhD students;
- proposed changes under the Educational Credential Assessment Initiative to introduce a mandatory requirement that FSWP immigrants have their education abroad assessed against Canadian education standards;
- tripled investment in settlement services outside of Quebec since 2006, while ensuring fair funding across Canada for services like free language classes;
- launched a new website promoting innovations in the assessment and recognition of international qualifications.
To further help the world’s persecuted, the government has increased resettlement targets by one-fifth. Canada’s resettlement program continues to be one of the top three largest in the world. Its Refugee Assistance Program has been expanded and a new Refugee Appeal Division at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has been introduced for refugee claims made in Canada.
Mr Kenney says, “We are continuing to make changes to create a faster, more flexible immigration system. We have made great strides in the past year, but we know there is always more work to do and look forward to even more improvements and reforms in the year ahead.”
Global Visas has offices all over the world to provide assistance advice on immigration, working and studying overseas and more. Every year, it helps thousands receive visas to go to Canada, as well as the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand and other countries.