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Moving Towards a Half-a-Million New Canadians a Year

by Ronalee Carey Law

November 2022

One of the best books I’ve ever read about Canadian immigration is Maximum Canada: Toward a Country of 100 Million. In it, Globe and Mail international affairs columnists Douglas Saunders argues that Canadian immigration policies instituted by Britain led to Canada being underpopulated and deprived it of the critical mass of individuals necessary to create an economic environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. This led and continues to lead to the ‘out-migration’ of Canada’s best and brightest, with the USA the primary beneficiary.

In his book, Saunders advocates for the increase in Canada’s population to 100,000,000 by 2100. As most immigrants tend to move to cities, the increase in population would allow for a sufficient tax base to create environmentally friendly public transportation systems and well-serviced neighbourhoods.

Saunders’s views are advocated by the Century Initiative, a Canadian charity advocating for an increase in Canada’s population. 

Amidst significant job shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government is moving in the direction espoused by those who think Canada needs more Canadians.  Earlier this month, the government announced its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, setting an ambitious target of welcoming 500,000 new immigrants annually by 2025.

Immigration is changing the face of Canada. Recent Statistics Canada data reports revealed that Canada is home to more than 450 ethnic or cultural origins. One in four Canadians is now part of a racialized group. And significantly, 23% of residents have or formerly held permanent resident status.

The majority of the Canadian population supports high levels of immigration, despite concerns about housing shortages and a lack of family physicians. 

I have my quibbles about the Immigration Levels Plan. In particular, I am concerned that Canada plans to decrease the number of government-assisted resettled refugees (23,550 in 2023 to 15,250 in 2025) and will slash the number of individuals accepted based on humanitarian and compassionate considerations (15,985 in 2023 but only 8,000 in 2025.) However, I am pleased that the number of highly skilled workers, including international students selected through the Canadian Experience Class, will significantly increase (82,880 in 2023 to 114,000 in 2025.)

2022 Parent and Grandparent Program Details Announced New Applicants Shut Out Again

by Ronalee Carey Law

October 2022

IRCC has just announced the details of the 2022 Parent and Grandparent Program, and it will be of great disappointment to anyone hoping to apply who didn’t submit an interest form in 2020.

The program will run in an almost identical fashion to how applications were accepted in 2021:

  • IRCC will send out 23,100 invitations to potential sponsors. They hope to accept 15,000 complete applications. (I.e., they expect 8,100 potential sponsors will either not apply or submit an incomplete application.)
  • Applicants will be randomly selected from interest forms submitted in 2020.
  • Selected applicants will be notified starting this week. It will take IRCC two weeks to send out all the invitations.
  • Invitations will go to the same email address used to submit the interest form. Individuals who no longer have access to that email address or lost their confirmation number will be able to retrieve it or provide a new email address after all the invitations have been sent.
  • The minimum necessary income for 2021 and 2020 will be the low-income cut-off for applicable family size. For 2019 it will be the low-income cut-off plus 30%. Employment Insurance and COVID-19 benefits such as CERB may be included in the income for 2020 and 2021.
  • Applications must be submitted online.
  • Applicants not selected are encouraged to submit a super visa application. Super visa applicants are now permitted to enter Canada for five years with the option of requesting a two-year extension.

The 2022 Immigration Levels Plan targets 25,00 new Canadians through the Parent and Grandparent Program (which includes accompanying spouses and dependent children.) 2023 will see a target of 28,500, with a further increase in 2024 to 32,000. Hopefully, in 2023 new applicants will finally be able to submit an interest form. There have long been calls for IRCC to amend the PGP to allow for a weighted lottery or a similar process that will more fairly balance the demand for the program within the levels plan. By selecting applicants who applied in 2020, IRCC has chosen bureaucratic efficiency over equitable access to the program.

Green Bins are no Longer Just for Compost

by Ronalee Carey Law

October 2022

Here in the city of Ottawa, we dispose of our waste using different coloured bins. Blue is for containers (think that empty bottle of ketchup), black is for paper, green is for organics, and your garbage can will be whatever is for sale at the local hardware store.

Introducing the municipal compost program in Ottawa was smartly done in the fall, so people could get used to recycling their organic waste before the hot summer months turned green bin contents into a smelly, sometimes wriggly affair.

Canada's 'green bin' processing system for applications submitted through the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada program was introduced without public fanfare. In fact, the system's existence only became known through an access-to-information request and was later detailed in a Toronto Star article. I now know why mysteriously, I've been receiving approvals for inland spousal sponsorship applications in less than five months rather than the 15 months listed on the IRCC website.

 

Since June 2022, IRCC has sorted all sponsorship applications made within Canada into two 'bins'; green and standard. Green bin applications are considered 'low-complexity' per "evidence-based, data-driven rules" from past applications and decisions. Automated systems driven by artificial intelligence do the sorting; humans do not decide which bin an application will be put into. Green bin applications skip eligibility and move directly to medical, criminality, and security assessments. Standard bin assessments require an immigration officer to do an eligibility assessment, whether the marriage is genuine or if cohabitation requirements are met for common-law partners, and whether the relationship is genuine and not entered into for the purpose of acquiring status in Canada.

Inevitably, a similar program will soon be used for all types of permanent resident applications, an abandonment of the 'first in, first out' principle. Since January, automatic triage systems have already been in place for visitor visa and study permit applications, expanding a pilot program that began in 2018 for applications submitted in India and China.

IRCC has not and does not intend to release the criteria upon which the automatic sorting rules are based. It has been stated that the system 'uses a combination of rules developed by staff and rules generated through machine learning that has been assessed, adjusted if necessary, and reviewed.' Unsurprising, the lack of transparency has been criticized, and concerns have been raised about bias.

For my clients and me, this change means predicting when an application will be approved is a crap shoot. Though speedy processing times are welcome by most, for some clients living outside Canada, having an approval come in months before it is expected can throw a wrench into carefully made plans that often are linked to the end of an employment contract or an academic year. Permanent residence application approval starts the time ticking for when an individual must arrive in Canada to confirm their permanent residency. Expiry dates on Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) documents cannot be extended.

IRCC Has Announced a Plan to Make a Plan

by Ronalee Carey Law

September 2022

 On May 11, 2022, the Canadian parliament approved a Private Member’s Bill, M-44, brought by Randeep Sarai, a politician from British Columbia. The motion required the Immigration department to develop a plan to expand the economic immigration streams available to individuals with Canadian work experience. The motion required the government to develop the plan within 120 days.

As soon as the Bill was passed, I started getting emails from clients holding post-graduate work permits. Some have already set up an Express Entry profile, and others are waiting to obtain a full year of work experience to be able to do so. They wanted to know what documents they should have prepared so they could apply for the new program when it was announced.

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