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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Update January 1 – 7 2024

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly Canadian immigration update for the first week of 2024. Do not forget to follow us on our social media platforms for real-time updates and helpful resources to aid your immigration process.

What To Anticipate From Canadian Immigration In 2024

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans numerous changes in 2024, aiming to welcome 485,000 permanent residents. They will use AI to streamline client experiences and update multiple programs, including the Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Express Entry draws will continue being category-based, focusing on areas relevant to Canada’s labour market. Guidelines for PNPs have been updated, allowing better planning for immigration strategies. The Parents and Grandparents Program plans to increase its targets to 32,000. The International Student Program is also being enhanced with a reformed Letter of Acceptance (LOA) verification system and a review of its Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program to align with labour market needs. 

In 2024, increased use of AI and technology will help the Government streamline processes, shorten waiting times, and fulfil immigration and diversity targets. The digital transformation will enhance service standards, strengthen collaborations with employers and institutions, and make applications user-friendly. These changes are part of Canada’s Digital Platform Modernization initiative. Also, a new advisory board comprising immigrants will be established to influence immigration policy and services. Lastly, a new role, the Chief International Talent Officer (CITO), will align Canada’s immigration system with its labour market and sector strategies. This position aims to impact Canada’s annual immigration significantly.

OINP Now Allows International Students With One-Year College Programs To Apply For Permanent Residency

Ontario is expanding the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program’s (OINP) Employer Job Offer: International Student stream to allow all international students completing one-year college programs to apply for permanent residency. Effective January 1, 2024, this change increases the number of certificate programs eligible for student immigration. Most one-year programs in Ontario now qualify for student immigration. The province has altered its scoring factors for Canadian educational credentials, encouraging applicants to review changes. The revisions also include changes to the list of eligible institutions. 

Ontario is focusing on enhancing the employability of its youth, investing $62.9 million in its skilled trades programs to benefit over 18,000 individuals. The government is expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program with a $21.1 million investment for students to gain skilled trades experience while in high school. Canada’s two-tier immigration system allows foreign nationals to gain permanent residency through various programs and the points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Provinces can nominate skilled workers needed in local economies, who can then apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Canada Is The World’s Preferred Work Destination 

A Givetastic study named Canada as the top work destination globally, according to average monthly searches for terms like “jobs” and “work.” The survey covered 164 countries, with Canada leading in 56 due to its strong healthcare, employee benefits, and job market. Other top work destinations were Germany, Qatar, the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, the US, Malta, Niger, and Portugal. The study also identified popular cities to emigrate to for work, with Dubai leading and Quebec as a close second. The appeal of Canada was noted in diverse countries like Bangladesh, Chile, Ecuador, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the US. 

Canada, with its high living standards, safe environment, and respect for diversity, is a favoured destination for immigrants. Offering universal healthcare, quality education, and various immigration streams like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program fosters a diverse workforce and socio-economic growth. In 2022, it granted 437,000 foreigners permanent residency, a record number. The Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026 aims to welcome up to 500,000 new residents annually, promoting economic growth and family reunification while addressing humanitarian crises.

IRCC Began Measures To Improve Canada’s International Student Program Integrity

IRCC has started implementing measures to maintain the integrity of the international student program. It has launched a portal for Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) to verify LOAs for international student visa applications. Under the new framework, DLIs have ten days to validate LOAs through the portal. If not validated or found to be fake, the visa application will be cancelled, and fees returned. The changes follow past abuses of the student system, including a case where a fraudulent immigration consultant scammed 700 Indian students. More facts may be observed on the government’s website.

Last year, IRCC proposed the “Trusted Institutions Framework” for DLIs, introducing a two-tiered system for study permits. Trusted institutions will benefit from faster processing. While details remain unclear, the framework is expected to launch in 2024. The integrity of the international student program is a key concern, with potential limits on student visas to ensure adequate support. Major changes in 2024 include a $10,000 CAD increase in cost-of-living requirements, reassessment of the 20-hour work cap, ending the measure allowing time spent abroad to count towards PGWP, and changes to the PGWP program. The department aims to align international student enrolment and PGWP issuance with labour market needs. 2024 promises significant changes as Canada prepares to host nearly one million international students.

Canadians Leaving Canada For Countries Where The Cost Of Living Is More Affordable 

According to the latest reports from Statistics Canada, there has been a significant net emigration of 35,337 people between mid-2022 and mid-2023. This represents the highest level of emigration since 2017. The primary factor contributing to this exodus is the escalating cost of living. This observation is further reinforced by the British Columbia Business Council’s in-depth analysis of federal data, which indicates that these economic pressures may continue in the foreseeable future. The Council’s recent report presents a grim forecast, stating, “Government projections currently do not anticipate a recovery in living standards in Canada or British Columbia until at least 2027.”

The United Nations reports that Canadians seeking better living conditions are most likely to emigrate to countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries have traditionally been popular destinations for emigrants due to their relatively stable economies and comparable cultural norms. Additionally, data from Numbeo, an online database of user-contributed information about the cost of living, lifestyle, and other factors worldwide, suggests that Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and France are also becoming increasingly appealing destinations for Canadians. These countries offer lower living costs and a different lifestyle that might be attractive to those looking for a change.

Study Permit Applications From Indian Students Have Dropped By Over 40% 

Applications for Canadian study permits from Indian students have decreased by over 40% since July 2023. Between July and October 2023, less than 87,000 applications were processed, which is 60,000 fewer than the same timeframe in 2022. One possible reason, suggested by ApplyBoard, could be students voicing their struggles with Canada’s high cost of living on various social media platforms. Sentiment analysis of Indian media saw a surge in articles about Canadian housing costs and an increase in negative content from 12% to 30%. 

The Canadian Government, in response, launched a CAD 12.1 billion Affordability Plan that includes measures like reducing childcare fees and enhancing the Old Age Security pension. Despite the decline in applications, there has been an increase in study permit approvals for Indian students, with 32,000 more approvals this year than the previous year. ApplyBoard estimates that between 200,000 and 210,000 Indian students will receive approval to study in Canada in 2023. There has also been an upsurge in interest from other countries, resulting in a more diverse applicant pool.

IRCC Issues New Wage Guidelines For Recruiting Temporary Foreign Workers 

Employers hiring via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) must ensure their applications align with the latest wage requirements for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA). From January 1, 2024, wages of temporary foreign workers should reflect the prevailing wage changes, as per IRCC. Most employers require an LMIA to hire a temporary foreign worker. However, some are exempt. Exemptions apply to jobs under international trade, federal and provincial/territorial government accords, and those in Canada’s best interests. Despite being a national database, Job Bank acknowledges regional wage variations. For instance, a truck driver might earn a median hourly wage of $34.25 in one region of British Columbia but only $19.23 in New Brunswick. Canada is keen to attract foreign workers due to labour shortages.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reports a loss of up to $38 billion due to labour shortages. Its latest report reveals that small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are severely impacted, with predictions of the situation worsening. CFIB states this is due to challenging demographics and inadequate government response. The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) concurs, emphasizing the importance of immigration for addressing labour shortages and supporting Canada’s economic growth. The Canadian Government ensures the rights of temporary foreign workers, granting them the same protections as Canadians and permanent residents. All employers must provide them with rights information, employment agreements, fair pay, a safe work environment, health insurance, and access to healthcare.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers are your go-to experts for Canada immigration assistance. We combine our legal expertise, comprehensive knowledge of immigration laws, and a personalized approach to navigate each step of your immigration journey. Whether for work, study, or family, we are here to make your move to Canada easier. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your immigration needs.

Lev Abramovich

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.