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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates  January 15 – 21 2024

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly news review, providing insightful analysis of the latest developments in Canadian immigration. Follow us on our blog and social media platforms for regular updates and in-depth commentary.

Canada’s Passport Remains One Of The World’s Most Influential In 2024 

In 2024, Canada continues to uphold its standing as one of the world’s most powerful passports, according to the Passport Index. Although it falls slightly behind its southern neighbour, the United States, the Canadian passport still commands respect and recognition on the global scene. It secures the seventh position in the global rankings, a prestigious spot it shares with countries such as Australia and Estonia. The Passport Index assesses the power of a passport based on its visa-free and visa-on-arrival privileges, which determine a country’s Mobility Score.

Canada boasts a Mobility Score of 173, which means Canadian passport holders have the luxury of visa-free access to 124 countries around the globe and can obtain a visa-on-arrival in 49 countries. This level of freedom and accessibility makes international travel considerably more convenient for Canadians. However, Canadians need to obtain visas to travel to 25 different countries. Some of these countries include major global players such as China and Russia. Compared to other countries, the United States and the United Kingdom have a higher ranking regarding visa-free travel. The United Arab Emirates, however, holds the highest ranking with a score of 180, allowing its citizens to travel to many countries without needing a visa.

Provincial Nominee Programs In Canada Issued Thousands Of Invitations In Recent Draws

On January 16, 2024, British Columbia held the most recent invitation rounds under the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) and invited up to 198 qualified candidates. In addition, the province issued up to ten ITAs to foreign entrepreneurs. On January 18, 2024, the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) made significant strides by conducting the inaugural round of invitations in Ontario’s Express Entry French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream. 984 Invitations to Apply were extended exclusively to Francophone candidates during this draw. Simultaneously, Prince Edward Island showcased its commitment to welcoming skilled workers through the Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP). On the same day, PEI held an invitation round, issuing 134 invitations to skilled workers in the Labour Impact and Express Entry streams. In addition, PEI welcomed two candidates through the Business Work Permit Entrepreneurs stream. Shifting to January 19, 2024, the Government of Ontario continued its proactive approach to immigration with a general draw in the Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker Stream (EJO FW) of the OINP. This draw resulted in the issuance of 1,654 ITAs. 

The continuous issuance of invitations underscores the importance of the PNPs in addressing regional labour market needs and promoting immigration that aligns with the unique characteristics of each province. As Canada seeks to attract skilled individuals and entrepreneurs, the PNPs play a crucial role in shaping the demographic and economic landscape across the country.

The Conservative Party Plans To Align Immigration Levels With The Pace Of Home Construction 

Pierre Poilievre, a member of the Canadian conservative party, proposes a plan to align immigration rates with housing construction should he win in the imminent election. He suggests that this will effectively resolve the existing imbalance. Furthermore, he has publicly critiqued the Liberal Party’s housing minister, Sean Fraser, for boosting immigration rates without ensuring adequate housing provisions for the growing population. Poilievre’s idea is to welcome immigrants to Canada following the country’s ability to provide housing, job opportunities, and necessary support services. His perspective originates from the fact that although Canada’s population has almost doubled in the last 50 years, the number of completed homes in 2022 is less than that in 1972. 

While Poilievre has not given a clear stance on targets for permanent or temporary newcomers, this ambiguity allows for further conversation. However, his aim is clear: to match immigration with Canada’s ability to offer crucial services. As of October 1, Canada welcomed 455,000 new permanent residents and over 800,000 temporary residents, leading to a 3.2% population growth. This notable figure propels Canada to the forefront of G7 nations, including China and India, concerning population growth. Such data underscores the importance of thoughtful planning for housing and support for new residents, an issue Poilievre seeks to tackle.

Canada’s Parents And Grandparents Program Is Projected To See A 6.5% Increase 

Canada’s Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) is projected to grow 6.5% in 2023 compared to 2022. This suggests that despite periodic fluctuations in the number of arrivals, the general trend points towards an increase in the number of parents and grandparents immigrating to Canada through this program. According to the data provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the PGP saw a 32% decrease in arrivals in November. This drop followed a particularly strong influx during October. The number of arrivals fell sharply from 2,530 in October down to a lesser 1,720 in November. Notably, this decrease coincided with a 12.4% drop in the overall monthly immigration rate.

Despite this sharp decrease in arrivals in November, the PGP still welcomed 26,600 new permanent residents during the first 11 months of the year. Projected calculations suggest the program could reach 29,018 new permanent residents by the year’s close. The continuous growth of the program indicates its success in attracting and retaining family members of current residents, thereby contributing to the multicultural fabric of Canadian society. Looking at the geographical distribution of these arrivals, Ontario received the majority of PGP arrivals. A total of 12,660 parents and grandparents decided to establish their new homes in Ontario, reinforcing the province’s popularity among new immigrants.

Canada Evaluates The Efficiency Of The Start-Up Visa Program

An adviser in Canada’s immigration department has raised concerns regarding the efficacy of immigration programs explicitly designed for entrepreneurs, citing historical failures as the main reason for caution. These programs, which notably include the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program, have allegedly led to a meagre number of new businesses being established. Moreover, these programs are also believed to have contributed to the inflation of housing prices and a decline in contributions to income tax. Despite the explicit warning issued by the adviser, it appears that the immigration department is still contemplating the possibility of expanding the scope of the SUV program.

Historically, analogous initiatives have shown underwhelming outcomes, as only a minor segment (around 15%) of immigrants embarked on business ventures. Many of these endeavours were ephemeral, with many entrepreneurs discontinuing their operations within two years. It is worth noting that these immigrants often acquired luxury homes, albeit with minimal mortgage and income tax contributions. Currently, the immigration department is assessing the merits and potential drawbacks of expanding this program, mindful of the prospective economic and societal implications.

Canada Is Considering Limiting International Student Numbers Due To The Housing Issue 

Immigration Minister Marc Miller will examine the influx of international students and temporary residents in Canada due to concerns about housing affordability. Miller recognized the complex relationship between housing and immigration and confirmed these issues were considered when setting immigration targets. He stressed that, despite not being responsible for interest rate increases, the volume of newcomers requires scrutiny. Amid housing affordability challenges, surveys show a majority believe increased immigration contributes to these issues and burdens the healthcare system. The government has implemented measures to improve housing affordability, including agreements with municipalities for housing-friendly zoning, regulatory changes, and new regulations for international students.

The Canadian Press revealed that senior officials warned the government about immigration’s impact on housing affordability and healthcare. Despite this, the government plans to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in 2026. Miller plans to focus on temporary residents, considering reforms to postgraduate work permits to control their number. He defended the immigration strategy as necessary for Canada’s labour force growth. Issues with international students on temporary visas fall under provincial jurisdiction. Orlachi Osundu, president of the International Students Association at Université de Moncton, argued that blaming students for the housing crisis was unfair. Miller stressed the need for federal intervention in the housing market, encouraging provinces to collaborate on the issue.

Halting Temporary Resident Admissions May Cause a Canadian Economic Downturn 

The future economic prosperity of Canada is increasingly dependent on population growth, primarily driven by immigration, as per a comprehensive report by Desjardins Securities. This growth, which has reached an impressive 3.2%, brings many benefits, such as bolstering the labour market. However, it also has the side effect of driving up housing costs. In the face of a potential reduction in the number of temporary residents, the report suggests this could exacerbate the impending economic downturn. Randall Bartlett, the senior director of Canadian economics at Desjardins, has issued a warning: a dramatic decrease in the number of newcomers could have a detrimental effect on potential GDP, possibly deepening the anticipated recession in 2024.

On the other hand, consistently maintaining high levels of newcomer admissions could significantly strain finances and housing affordability. This delicate issue could require policy adjustments to manage the economic impact effectively. However, achieving the right balance presents a significant challenge. Both scenarios, either a reduction or maintenance of high immigration levels, carry implications for several key economic indicators. These include inflation rates, interest rates, and the ongoing housing crisis. As such, careful consideration and strategic planning will be necessary to navigate these complex issues.

Ontario Fails To Manage The International Student Sector 

Ontario’s substantial growth in international student numbers, representing more than half of Canada’s total, has prompted Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller to urge provinces to handle the surge. This appeal is chiefly directed towards Ontario, which has largely neglected the situation. Ontario has cultivated a booming international student sector, which has expanded unrestricted. Should no actions be taken, Miller suggests limiting student visas, which would likely affect Ontario the most. The province has the potential to implement policies regulating numbers while promoting quality recruitment. However, it is still uncertain whether this action will be taken.

Furthermore, the Minister is called upon to tackle the issue of international students failing to attend classes. The International Student Compliance Regime, established in 2014, aims to identify fraudulent students and questionable establishments. As per the IRCC’s 2021 Student Integrity Analysis Report, certain colleges have seen a staggering 90% rate of student non-attendance. Most of these colleges, largely privately owned and located in Ontario, cater to a broad segment of students from India. Despite being accepted, these students are not attending their classes. For instance, the Academy of Learning College in Toronto reported a 95% non-compliance rate, with a 90% no-show rate. Similarly, the Flair College of Management and Technology had a 75% non-attendance rate.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers provide expert legal assistance to individuals seeking to immigrate to Canada. With a deep understanding of the complexities of immigration law, we guide clients through the process, helping them navigate the paperwork, meet deadlines, and increase the chances of a successful application. If you want to immigrate to Canada and need assistance with your application process, we are here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.