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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates December 18 – 24 2023

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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 review of Canadian immigration news, keeping you informed on all changes and developments. Follow us to stay up-to-date with the latest immigration policies, application processes, and visa options.

IRCC Held Four Express Entry Draws In The Past Week

Last week, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted four Express Entry draws. The first draw of the week invited 1,325 candidates under all immigration programs, with a minimum score of 542. Then, on December 19, IRCC held the second occupation-specific Express Entry draw for skilled trades occupations and invited 1,000 candidates. The December 20 draw for transport occupations saw 670 Invitations to Apply (ITA). Lastly, IRCC issued 400 ITAs to Agriculture and agri-food candidates with a minimum score of 386.

In 2023, the IRCC conducted a total of 42 draws. This included 19 invitation rounds across all immigration programs, six PNP-specific draws, one FSW draw, and six draws targeting French speakers. They also held occupation-specific draws, including three for healthcare, two for STEM, two for skilled trades, two for transport, and two for agri-food occupations. As of the latest update on December 17, 2023, the Express Entry pool had a total of 208,638 profiles awaiting an ITA. Thus far, the Canadian Government has extended invites to 110,266 candidates through the Express Entry streams.

Canada Celebrated The International Migrants Day

On December 18, 2023, Canada marked International Migrants Day. Ministers Marc Miller, Melanie Joly, and Ahmed Hussen released a statement emphasizing migrants’ crucial role in Canadian society and economic prosperity. They acknowledged the challenging conditions prompting migration, including the climate crisis and global conflict. The statement reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to migrants’ rights and dignity and celebrated their contributions. As an advocate of the Global Compact for Migration, Canada collaborates with various countries and organizations to ensure safe, orderly migration, encouraging regular migration pathways and supporting newcomer settlement and integration. 

Canada encourages balanced discussions on migrants and refugees, emphasizing their contributions to society. As global migration increases, these discussions and efficient migration systems are essential for social cohesion, community well-being, innovation, and economic growth. Canada pledged solutions to the refugee crisis at the Global Refugee Forum, reiterating its commitment to refugee support, education, and asylum protection. Canada recently pledged $75 million for capacity-building in the Americas to address migrant needs. On International Migrants Day, the Government invited Canadians to acknowledge migrant rights, celebrate their contributions, and recognize their courage amid adversity. 

Immigration Continues To Increase Canada’s Population Growth 

On October 1, 2023, Canada’s population was estimated at 40.5 million. This represents an impressive 1.1% growth since July 1, 2023, marking the highest quarterly increase since 1957. In the first nine months of 2023, Canada’s population swelled by over a million people, surpassing the growth seen in 2022. A significant 96% growth during the third quarter of 2023 was driven by international migration, with natural increase accounting for the rest. Almost 108,000 immigrants were welcomed to Canada in the third quarter of 2023, helping the country achieve 80% of its annual immigration target by September. 

Alberta, attracting migrants from all provinces and territories, had the highest net gains (+17,094) in interprovincial migration in Q3 2023. This marked five consecutive quarters of gains exceeding 10,000, a first since 1971. Most gains were from exchanges with Ontario and British Columbia. Conversely, British Columbia had five straight quarters of migration losses, a first since Q1 2013. Despite ongoing migration loss, Ontario’s net loss in Q3 2023 was smaller (-5,952). The Atlantic provinces saw negligible or negative migration, contrasting with strong growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to fewer migrants from Ontario.

Canada Provides A Pathway To Permanent Residence For Undocumented Individuals 

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has unveiled a comprehensive pathway for undocumented individuals to pursue permanent residency. This move aligns with Ottawa’s ambitious immigration targets of welcoming approximately 465,000 immigrants in 2023, gradually increasing to 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. Current estimates suggest that between 300,000 to 600,000 individuals are residing in Canada without valid documentation and are thus at risk of deportation. This new initiative also extends to individuals who have overstayed their visas. However, it is essential to note that not everyone will qualify for permanent residency. The detailed plan for this policy will be presented to the cabinet this spring. 

The majority of undocumented migrants entered Canada legally but were unable to meet the requirements for existing immigration programs. This new measure upholds Ottawa’s dedication to regularizing those without immigration status who actively contribute to Canadian communities. The IRCC closely examines past regularization efforts and engages with stakeholders to prepare for upcoming initiatives. Earlier programs, like the GTA’s Temporary Public Policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers, acknowledged their economic contributions. The Canadian Labour Congress has plans to process an additional 500 applications for permanent residency for these workers in 2023. The Guardian Angels policy, brought in during the pandemic, was designed to offer a permanent residency pathway for healthcare workers with pending or unsuccessful refugee claims. 

Provinces Express Concern Over The Decline In Atlantic Immigration Program Numbers 

The premiers of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces have expressed their disappointment with the decrease in immigrants from the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) and the unchanged Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allocations in the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan. They believe local provinces should determine immigration needs based on labour market demands and capacity and need collaboration with the Federal Government. The AIP’s new permanent residents are projected to drop 28.2% from 4,870 to 3,498 this year, while the PNP’s new residents are expected to increase 33.1%. However, the 2026 PNP target of 120,000 new residents is the same as in 2025, effectively lowering immigration as a percentage of Canada’s growing population. 

The premiers want Ottawa’s cooperation to boost immigration, as it is crucial for labour demands and economic growth, and call for closer collaboration on immigration. Collaborative immigration programming with the Federal Government is vital to alleviate labour shortages. PNPs operate in two stages in cooperation with the federal immigration department. At the same time, the AIP is a partnership between the Federal Government and four regional provinces, aiming to fill positions unavailable to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 

IRCC Has Introduced New Measures For Individuals Impacted By The Israel–Hamas Conflict 

As of December 21, 2023, IRCC has implemented temporary immigration measures to assist family members of Canadians, permanent residents, Israelis, and Palestinians currently residing in Canada. Effective immediately, family members of Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents who have departed Israel and the Palestinian Territories since the onset of conflict can apply for fee-exempt work permits. New provisions have also been introduced for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Specifically, Canada will expedite the processing of permanent residence applications for Palestinians through family-based streams. 

However, it is essential to note that individuals must satisfy all admissibility and eligibility requirements before entering Canada. In response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Canada is actively aiding the departure of Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible family members. In addition, on December 22, IRCC introduced changes to the pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) for residents of the West Bank and Gaza. Applicants who received a final negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada or the Federal Court between December 23, 2022, and December 22, 2023, may now qualify to apply for a PRRA.

Canada’s Annual Labour Shortages Cause Businesses A $38 Billion Loss 

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) states that Canadian businesses are losing up to $38 billion due to labour shortages. The CFIB, representing 97,000 small and medium-sized businesses, warns that the situation could worsen due to challenging demographics and government inaction. Employers in Canada can hire foreign nationals through Express Entry’s immigration programs and PNPs. Despite record-breaking immigration, employers struggle to find workers, leading IRCC to increase immigration targets for coming years. 

Labour shortages force employers to work longer hours. Provinces and territories ensure immigration meets labour needs and benefits all regions, also improving foreign qualification recognition. The CFIB considers lost potential sales and contracts due to labour shortages a significant missed opportunity for small businesses. In a Nova Scotia government committee presentation, CFIB’s Duncan Robertson stated that business owners work an average of 59 hours a week to compensate for labour shortages. Inflation and labour challenges have been key issues for business owners in the last two years. 

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers provide expert guidance and services to individuals seeking to immigrate to Canada. With vast experience dealing with complex immigration cases, we offer personalized support throughout immigration, including visa applications, appeals, and permanent residency. Contact us to discuss your situation and explore the best immigration options.

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.