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2017: A Crucial year in Canadian Immigration Featuring Innovation and Revised Targets

December 2017, 30
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2017 was an eventful and busy year for Canadian immigration system which ran at full throttle all through the year. There was an uncertainty in the United States, which thought immigration to be a threat, to national security and its jobs. Additionally, the Express Entry system posted record numbers in 2017. Canada endorsed a message of opportunity and inclusivity throughout the year and the provinces also carried out effective policies.

Express Entry

It reflected the true potential of the government and was a huge and successful immigration story of 2017. 86,023 Invitations to apply to candidates were issued in three categories compared to 33,782 ITAs issued in the previous year.

ITAs, based on criteria of education, language proficiency and skilled work experience in the Comprehensive Ranking System, of Express Entry, were issued. The increase seen in their issue in 2017 was marked by drops in the CRS cut off level.  There was a low 413 at one point. Class-specific draws were also held for aspirants in the Federal Skilled Trades Class.

Another feature of 2017 was a change initiated by IRCC in November 2016 which reduced the number of points given for a job offer from 50 to 200, instead of 600. This change had a huge impact.

IRCC laid emphasis on the introduction of extra CRS points given for studies in Canada, or when a sibling lived in Canada and had proficiency in French.

Provincial Nominee Programs

There was great importance to the popular and fast-track Provincial Nominee Programs, of Canada. Through it, Provinces and Territories nominated immigrants each year in an effective and efficient manner. The target in 2017 was 51,000 nominations. Nominees were selected to fill labour shortages and measures were taken to settle them quickly.

The Human Capital Priorities stream of Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program was very innovative in approach.  It helped to select skilled workers who scored 400 CRS points and had the needed education, language ability, and suitable work experience.

This stream arranged Notifications of Interest on many occasions in the year, and also waived the requirement of 400 CRS points for candidates with experience in Information and Communications Technology sector.

Ontario came up the new Express Entry Skilled Trades Stream and targeted skilled trades’ workers in the agricultural and construction sectors.

Programs aligned with Express Entry were active in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia in 2017. The Express Entry of International Skilled Worker of Saskatchewan called applicants five times in 2017 and 3,200 applicants aimed to obtain a provincial nomination. The Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry Stream saw the intake limit based on the timing of arrival and reaching very quickly.

Alberta and Manitoba Provinces made an announcement regarding introducing an Express Entry-aligned streams in 2018.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

The Atlantic Provinces have also launched Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, focused on the region. It is innovative and region-based involving Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. These provinces suffer the challenges of labour and population retention, It began in March 2017, and has a target of attracting 2,000 immigrants to Atlantic Canada.

Family Reunification

Helping to reunite the families in Canada is a top priority of the present federal government and there were several important changes during the last year saw to strengthen it. IRCC is on track to welcome 84,000 new PRs who are selected with the family relationship to a citizen or permanent resident in mind. This figure represents a quarter of planned immigration to the country in 2017.

Of these 84,000 64,000 were spouses/ children, or common-law partners and 20,000 were parents/grandparents.

IRCC had decided to curtail the processing times for sponsoring spouses/common-law partners from 24 months to 12 months and this measure helped them.  It also extended the Open Work Permit Pilot that allows them to work in Canada while their applications are processed. The government also did away with conditional permanent residence status for spouses/common-law partners.

IRCC decided to accept 10,000 new applications in Parents /Grandparents Program in 2017. The new online Interest to Sponsor form, for a streamlined process, made the random selection process transparent and fair. Another move was increasing the age of dependents from 19 to 22 years.

Citizenship made easy

New rules to expedite the process of transition from PR status to Canadian citizenship also took effect. The changes saw the accumulation of three out of five years of residency, in place of four out of six years. Permanent residents, spending their time in the country as foreign workers, students, or protected persons, before the transition to the permanent residents, are now eligible to count some of this time to meet the requirement of residency days.

Multi-Year Levels Plan

On Nov. 1 IRCC unveiled a promising and eventful Multi-Year Immigration Plan for the next three years. Ahmed Hussen Canada’s Immigration Minister said that this was the most ambitious level of immigration seen in the history of Canada. It will facilitate the entry of nearly a million fresh immigrants to settle in the country in future.

The targets for settlement are 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018 in all categories, to be increased to 330,000 in 2019, and 340,000 in 2020.

This will see the numbers of economic immigrants given PR Status through in Express Entry categories rise by 20 percent compared to 2017. PNP allotment targets would also increase by 32 percent and Family Class immigrants by an eight percent over 2017.

The first half of 2018 will be big for immigration. 2017, showed an increased issue of ITAs and a pointed fall in CRS scores. The high targets of 2018 mean frequent draws and low cut-off scores.

2017 was momentous reflecting a warm and welcoming understanding of immigration providing an opportunity for persons, families, and also for the Canadian society.

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