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Weekly Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates December 25 – 31 2023

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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.
canada immigration news recap

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly Canadian immigration update, keeping you informed on policy changes, application procedures, and visa options. Stay updated with us.

Analysis And Review Of Canada’s Express Entry Immigration System For 2023

In 2023, Canada’s Express Entry system changed, alternating immigration program-based draws with category-based draws. This change was facilitated by the new National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021. Now, along with all-program and Provincial Nominee Program draws, there were targeted draws for healthcare, STEM, transport occupations, and more. This was aimed at aligning the system more with labour market needs. It is too early to evaluate the success of this approach, but the number and variety of draws increased notably. In total, 82 NOC codes were grouped into five categories: healthcare, STEM, trades, transport, farming, and food. French speaker-targeted draws were also introduced. All-program draws continued, contributing to the second-highest number of ITAs in a year, totalling 110,266. 

2023 was second to 2021 in ITAs issued, missing by just over 4,000. Remarkably, in 2021, IRCC  held a record draw and issued 27,332 ITAs for Canadian Experience Class candidates. Despite the high number of ITAs, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) suspended November 2023’s draws without a clear explanation. Draws resumed in December with thousands of ITAs issued. Occupation-specific draws introduced in 2023 diversified the variety, including a first draw for Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates. The new categories affected all program draws, still the main category with 76,700 ITAs for the year. Comprehensive Ranking System scores were low early in the year, but the gap grew with the new draws in June. 

The Start-Up Visa Program Continues To Welcome A Growing Number Of Entrepreneurs 

Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) program saw a rise in immigrant entrepreneurship in October, with the country on track to welcome 1,200 new permanent residents by year-end, according to IRCC data. October saw 200 new permanent residents via the SUV, a 37.9% increase from September. Despite a 17.1% drop from August to September, the trend reversed in October. IRCC plans to significantly increase admissions for SUV applicants from 1,000 per year to 5,000, 6,000 and 6,000 in 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively. The October surge sets a 2023 record for the program, which has welcomed 1,000 new residents this year, a 108.7% increase from last year. 

Ontario tops the list for welcoming the most immigrant entrepreneurs through the SUV program, while Nova Scotia is at the bottom. Compared to other programs like the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trade (FST), Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), the SUV contributes fewer new permanent residents. As part of the process, applicants can first enter Canada on a work permit supported by a designated Canadian investor. Currently, the process spans 37 months. The SUV program incorporates three types of investors: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators.

The Annual Labour Shortages In Canada Lead To A Substantial Loss Of $38 Billion For Businesses 

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) states that labour shortages cost Canadian businesses $38 billion in contracts and sales. The CFIB’s report warns that the situation may worsen due to challenging demographics and government inaction. To fill these gaps, employers can hire foreign nationals through the Express Entry system’s three federal programs: PNPs, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and the International Mobility Program (IMP). Despite record immigration, employers still struggle to find workers, leading IRCC to increase immigration targets. 

Under its 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome 1.485 million new permanent residents. The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) sees immigration as a solution to labour shortages and a means to stimulate economic growth. FMRI co-chair Jeremy Harrison emphasizes the crucial role of provinces and territories in addressing employers’ labour needs. The CFIB highlights the potential gains lost due to labour shortages, which could aid small businesses in automation and post-COVID recovery. CFIB analyst Duncan Robertson notes that business owners work around 59 hours a week to compensate for labour shortages, with inflation and labour issues being their main concerns in recent years.

Manitoba Held Three Invitation Rounds In The Last Week Of 2023

In the last week of 2023, Manitoba held three invitation rounds, signalling an active approach to attracting new talent and potential residents. These rounds were instrumental in the province’s ongoing efforts to meet its demographic and labour market needs. On December 21, the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) held a new invitation round for the Skilled Worker Overseas stream candidates and invited 1,113 eligible candidates. On December 28, Manitoba held more invitation rounds and invited 254 candidates under the Skilled Worker in Manitoba, Skilled Workers Overseas, and International Education Streams. The last draw of 2023 was for Ukrainian candidates. On December 29, the province invited 89 candidates through the MPNP. In 2023, the MPNP held 42 invitation rounds and invited 16,306 skilled candidates.

The MPNP is an immigration program that allows the province to nominate individuals for Canadian permanent residence based on their ability to establish themselves economically in Manitoba. This can be through their skills, education, and work experience, among other factors.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers provide comprehensive legal assistance to individuals applying through the MPNP. From assessing eligibility to preparing a compelling application, we strive to make the process as smooth as possible. We also offer advice on increasing your chances of success and can assist with any issues or questions arising during the application process. With Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers, you can confidently navigate the MPNP towards achieving your goal of Canadian permanent residence.

The House Of Commons Committee Strongly Recommends A Deadline For Resolving Immigration Backlogs 

The House of Commons standing committee urges IRCC to set a deadline for clearing its application backlog and implement accountability measures. The committee chair, Sukh Dhaliwal, even suggests creating a special task force. The report states that application numbers have far exceeded processing capacity, leading to a seemingly insurmountable backlog. As of October 31, there were over 2 million applications, 936,500 of which were backlogs. This includes 1,256,600 temporary residence applications and 639,000 permanent residence applications. Citizenship applications were more on track, with only 21% of 271,200 applications in the backlog. 

IRCC is committed to processing 80% of applications within their established service standards while acknowledging that complex cases may cause delays. Their standing committee has undertaken a comprehensive study of application backlogs and processing times, gleaning insights from 44 witnesses, including legal professionals, consultants, and organizations dedicated to refugee matters. It is critical to note that these backlogs impact foreign nationals and students and potentially tarnish Canada’s reputation when business professionals cannot attend conferences as planned. Both advocacy groups and tour operators have expressed similar concerns. The committee’s detailed report, published on December 14, lists 40 suggestions for tackling these issues.

Canada Launched A Humanitarian Pathway For Those Affected By The Sudan Conflict 

On December 28, 2023, Marc Miller, the Immigration Minister, unveiled a new humanitarian initiative for Sudanese and non-Sudanese nationals affected by the conflict commencing April 15, 2023. This initiative paves the way for them to permanently join their families in Canada, so long as they have a family member – a child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or sibling – who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident prepared to provide support. This initiative supplements the existing measures for Sudanese temporary residents in Canada and family members of Canadians who escaped Sudan before July 15, 2023. Canada remains committed to providing international aid, including emergency food supplies, clean water, hygiene, sanitation, health and protection services, and is actively collaborating with international and regional partners to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

To qualify, all applicants must complete all necessary biometric and security checks. In 2023, Canada dedicated over $165 million towards humanitarian aid for Sudan and neighbouring countries affected by the crisis via trusted partners. Alongside today’s announcement, Canada has previously introduced temporary measures for Sudanese nationals. These include permitting Sudanese nationals in Canada to extend their stay or change their status (visitor, student or temporary worker) without fees, waiving application fees for temporary residence for foreign nationals who’ve escaped Sudan with their Canadian relatives, prioritizing the processing of temporary and permanent residence applications from individuals still in Sudan, and nullifying the need for a passport or travel document for approval of a permanent resident visa for entry into Canada, waiving passport and permanent resident travel document fees for Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Sudan wishing to depart.

Experts Suggest Immigrants Should Bolster Canada’s Total And Per Capita GDP Growth 

Former CPPIB CEO Mark Wiseman emphasized Canada’s need for immigrants to boost not only GDP growth but also per capita growth. He warned of Canada’s lagging behind the US, with a persistent productivity gap and slower growth. He noted that Canada’s productivity, reflected in GDP per capita, income, and wealth, is 27% lower than that of the US. The Government of Canada should focus on policies that encourage business investments and job creation. This way, more employment opportunities would be available to both immigrants and native citizens, leading to a significant boost in the country’s GDP. 

Wiseman urged for a higher level of competition and to leverage Canada’s comparative advantages, like immigration. However, he stressed the need for this human capital to become more productive. He suggests achieving this by educating people for future jobs, especially in tech and AI. People should be allowed to work freely across provinces without employment or trade barriers. Canadian companies should invest in physical and human capital. Immigrants, who contribute positively to the economy and do jobs Canadians often avoid, should be productive and contribute to GDP per capita. Students in Canada should be genuinely studying and intend to stay productive.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers possess extensive expertise in Canadian immigration law. We guide individuals through the process, providing personalized advice, preparing necessary documents, and representing clients in complex immigration matters. Our experienced team helps streamline the journey to becoming a Canadian resident, simplifying the daunting process and increasing the chances of a successful immigration application. Contact us for a consultation and start your path towards Canadian residency with confidence and clarity.

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.