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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates April 15 – 21 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 news review, keeping you updated with the latest developments in Canadian immigration law. Follow us weekly to stay informed about the most significant changes and updates in the immigration landscape.

Conservatives Advocate For More Citizenship-Oriented Policies 

Conservative immigration critic Tom Kmiec has openly criticized Canada’s current approach to the rising number of temporary residents, advocating for a shift towards a more citizenship-focused policy. He directly correlated high immigration and the burgeoning housing crisis, suggesting a potential reduction in immigration as a viable solution. This sentiment was echoed by several members of the Liberal party, who expressed their concerns over the strain being put on housing due to the sudden and significant influx of temporary residents. 

David Olive, a seasoned business columnist, was another who proposed lower immigration levels to alleviate the intense pressure on the housing crisis. Despite a record increase in immigration, rents have soared dramatically, indicating a clear imbalance in the housing market. Olive pointed out that an estimated 80,000 construction workers would be needed by 2030 if a housing boom is to be achieved. While 250,000 new homes are built annually, this number still needs to catch up to what is required to ensure affordability for all. Prime Minister Trudeau has announced a 20% reduction in temporary residents over the next three years while simultaneously boosting the number of permanent residents.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Immigration Exceeds Previous Years

The pace of Canada’s Start-up Visa (SUV) entrepreneur immigration program slowed down in February, seeing a 14.3% drop in the number of new permanent residents compared to January. This mirrors a general dip in Canadian immigration during the same period. However, it is worth pointing out that the numbers for this period still outpaced those of the same time last year, indicating a positive long-term trend. For example, Canada welcomed 490 immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV program in January, a substantial increase from just 50 in the same month the previous year. If this growth continues undisturbed, we could see 5,550 immigrant entrepreneurs entering Canada through this program this year. 

Debuting in 2015, the SUV program initially attracted a humble 55 immigrant entrepreneurs. Despite a temporary dip in 2020 due to global events, this number has grown steadily yearly. In 2021, Canada experienced a strong recovery, welcoming 385 new permanent residents – a significant 48.1% increase from 2020. By 2022, the program had recovered from the pandemic’s effects and doubled in popularity compared to the previous year. This resilience and growing appeal underscore the program’s key role in drawing entrepreneurial talent to Canada.

The Government Of Canada Prioritizes French-Speaking Immigrants, Missing Out On More Qualified Candidates

The Canadian Government has shown a notable focus on welcoming French-speaking economic immigrants, a policy sometimes prioritizing them over applicants with higher rankings. This indicates the government’s dedication to nurturing a multicultural society that values and encourages using both official languages. Following the recent extensive revamp of the Express Entry system, the government has issued permanent residency invitations to around 19,700 individuals, with French language proficiency being the key selection factor. 

While this broadens the potential immigrant pool, it may lead to candidates with lower scores being selected. Although this policy encourages diversity, concerns have been raised about its effectiveness in stimulating economic growth. Critics argue that the country could limit its ability to draw top global talent by placing language proficiency above all else. As such, they propose a balanced approach that appreciates both language proficiency and skills that can boost the economy. Besides these French-speaking candidates, roughly 36,150 invitations were also sent to candidates selected based on their point scores, not specific qualities or skills.

What Implications Will The 2024 Budget Have On Immigration In Canada? 

Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, has released the federal Budget 2024, detailing the government’s financial roadmap for the next fiscal year. Key points include a robust $53 billion allocation for new spending. This significant investment is primarily aimed at tackling the urgent issue of housing affordability, boosting defence spending, and improving workforce efficiency. While immigration was not a highlight of the Budget, several suggested actions are likely to benefit newcomers indirectly. Efforts to improve housing affordability and create jobs will undoubtedly help newcomers adjust to life in Canada.

Beyond these major allocations, the federal government has pledged $50 million to the Foreign Credential Recognition Program. This is likely to substantially support skilled trades workers, especially in healthcare, who often find it challenging to acknowledge their international qualifications in Canada. Moreover, the Budget document underscores the economic potential of newcomers. It points out that newcomers’ income tends to rise over time, exceeding the median Canadian income by a notable 10% over ten years. This fact emphasizes the economic and cultural value of immigration to Canada.

Immigration To Canada Slowed In Early 2024 

In February, Canada observed a notable decrease in immigration, with levels falling by 18.4% from January. This reduction led to a 13.8% drop in the arrival of new permanent residents year-to-date compared to the same period last year. While January experienced a 28% surge in immigration compared to December, this year’s overall pattern points towards a reduction in immigration. Detailed numbers provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) indicate that the number of new permanent residents Canada welcomed in the first two months of this year was lower than the same period in 2023, marking a potential slowdown in the immigration rate.

Should this trend persist, projections indicate the total number of new permanent residents in 2024 will be 520,260. Interestingly, despite the decrease, this figure is still 10.3% higher than last year’s record of 471,550. It also surpasses the target set by Ottawa in its Immigration Levels Plan for 2023–2025, which aims for 485,000 new permanent residents. This slowdown in immigration could be attributed to various factors, including global pandemic effects, changes in immigration policies, or shifts in global migration trends. However, it remains to be seen how these factors will play out over the year.

Recent Immigrants Think Canada’s Immigration Targets Are Excessive 

A recent Leger poll has shed light on how recent immigrants to Canada view the country’s current immigration targets. The survey indicates that many immigrants who have moved to Canada in the last ten years believe these targets may be too high or overly ambitious. Further details from the poll show a notable amount of support for the federal Conservatives within this immigrant group. This is especially true for Chinese immigrants, who, based on the survey, prefer the Conservatives over the Liberals by a three-to-one ratio. This intriguing trend could influence future political scenarios.

The Leger poll, which encompassed the perspectives of over 2,000 recent immigrants, shows that 42% of those surveyed believe that the new Liberal immigration plan is too liberal in its approach and will admit an excessive number of people into the country. On the other hand, only a third of the participants think the plan will admit just about the right number of immigrants. Furthermore, a small minority, amounting to only seven percent, believe that the current immigration plan is too restrictive and will not allow enough people to enter the country.

Alberta’s Unprecedented Population Growth Shows Potential Pressure Points 

Alberta’s energetic and resilient economy is becoming a significant attraction for people nationwide. The main factor behind this shift is the affordability of housing, which contrasts sharply with living costs in other major cities. Locations like Toronto and Vancouver have experienced a significant surge in property prices, making Alberta a compelling alternative. The “Alberta is Calling” advertising campaign has further accentuated this trend. This innovative campaign underscores the province’s affordable property market, encouraging Canadians struggling with home ownership in their current cities to explore the advantages of relocating to Alberta.

While Alberta’s population boom has brought many benefits, it also introduces some obstacles. The heightened demand for housing has caused a spike in both housing prices and rent, threatening the affordability that has made Alberta so appealing. This growth also strains the province’s infrastructure, resulting in a lack of family doctors and crowded schools – issues currently being addressed. Despite these hurdles, Alberta’s population growth is expected to surpass other parts of Canada, driven by its strong economy and the still-present affordability of housing.

If you are considering immigration to Canada, Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers are here to guide you through the process. Our experienced team provides personalized services, ensuring a smooth transition to your new home. Do not navigate this complex journey alone – let us help you make your Canadian dream a reality.

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.