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Weekly Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates – February 12 – 18 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 conducts a weekly review of Canadian immigration news, ensuring that we stay up-to-date with the latest developments and can provide the most accurate advice to our clients. Follow us to understand the recent changes, their possible effects, and implications for prospective applicants and immigrants.

Canada Held The First Occupation-Specific Express Entry Draws Of 2024

Last week, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held three Express Entry draws, including two occupation-specific ones. On February 13, 2024, IRCC held a General Express Entry draw for all immigration programs and invited 1,490 candidates. On February 14 and February 16, IRCC held occupation-specific Express Entry draws for healthcare, agriculture, and agri-food occupations. In these draws, IRCC invited 3,500 healthcare professionals and 150 agriculture workers. So far, Canada has invited 15,420 candidates through Express Entry draws.

According to IRCC, Canada’s Express Entry categories will stay the same in 2024. The categories, which include French, Healthcare, STEM, Trades, Transport, Agriculture and Agri-food, will continue to be chosen based on the country’s economic needs. In the previous year, 17 category-based draws were conducted across these sectors. The overall immigration targets for 2024 remain ambitious, focusing on attracting skilled workers to help drive Canada’s economic recovery post-pandemic. The Express Entry system will play a crucial role in achieving these goals.

Canada Stands As The Safest Destination For Travellers In 2024 

In 2024, Canada emerged as the safest travel destination globally, a significant leap from its sixth-place ranking in 2023. This achievement is part of the annual Safest Destinations report by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, a reputable organization known for its thorough survey methodology. The report, which evaluates safety based on various factors, including the Global Peace Index, the State Department’s travel safety ratings, and GeoSure Global scores, confirmed Canada’s top position in several categories. This includes safety in transportation, the almost non-existence of violent crime, robust health measures, and a welcoming environment for women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and BIPOC individuals.

The organization’s definition of a safe destination is extensive, encompassing locations free from threats like terrorism, disease outbreaks, discrimination, and harassment. The report carefully acknowledged the potential risk of natural disasters inherent to Canada’s geography, such as wildfires in the dry summer months and avalanches in snowy regions. Despite these potential hazards, reviews of Canada as a travel destination were overwhelmingly positive, with travellers around the globe extolling the country’s natural beauty, cultural diversity, and welcoming atmosphere. Meanwhile, other countries that performed well in the safety rankings include Switzerland, which secured the second spot, followed by Norway, Ireland, and the Netherlands, all known for their high safety and quality of life standards.

The Liberal Party Overlooked The Matter Of The High Volume Of International Students 

Canada’s Housing Minister, Sean Fraser, has recently been in the spotlight for reportedly overlooking several warnings indicating that extending the working hours for international students might lead to substantial integrity issues and a marked rise in housing costs. Fraser firmly stood his ground, highlighting international students’ struggles in finding reasonably priced housing and Canada’s ongoing requirement for a skilled workforce. Despite the expressed concerns and potential risks, the number of job vacancies in Canada impressively surged to over 990,000 in the second quarter of 2022. 

This notable increase led the Liberal government to create a separate immigration system specifically for non-skilled jobs. However, this influx of population has resulted in a significant and concerning rise in the cost of housing. In response to these issues, the newly appointed Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has reduced the number of international student visas by a substantial 35%. Despite the significant changes, the issue of affordable housing remains a critical concern, and the Liberals are being targeted for blame for the current situation. The housing crisis is a complex issue that requires immediate attention and action, and the Liberals’ handling of the situation continues to be a point of contention.

A Significant Number Of Immigrants With Deportation Orders Continue To Reside In Canada 

Recent data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) indicates that a substantial number of people who received deportation notices in Canada from 2016 up to last year have not yet left. Of the 14,609 individuals who received notices, 9,317 are still in the country, raising questions about enforcement effectiveness. The data suggests less than a quarter of those served notices have been deported, which challenges the efficiency of the deportation process and potentially impacts national security. Additionally, the data shows that a relatively small number, 771 individuals, have voluntarily left the country since 2021 began. 

The CBSA has provided insight into their position on this issue. They emphasize that every person ordered to leave the country has a right to due process. The issued removal orders can be challenged and are not final. There are instances where these orders have been completely overturned or where individuals have obtained permanent resident status. The CBSA is committed to the removal of individuals posing a serious threat to national security, those involved in organized crime, or those implicated in crimes against humanity. However, they recognize the process’s complexity and duration due to the many involved legal and administrative procedures.

Lower-Skilled Hospitality TFWs Transition To Permanent Residency Less Frequently Than Higher-Skilled Workers 

Lower-skilled foreign workers in the accommodation and food service industry transition to permanent residency less frequently than high-skilled workers or study permit holders. Of these, 29% became permanent residents within five years of starting work from 2010-2014. Higher-skilled workers and study permit holders had 45% and 49% transition rates, respectively. Despite lower rates, the large population of lower-skilled workers resulted in more people transitioning to permanent residency. Around 40% of these remained in the industry five years post-immigration, compared to 52% of high-skilled workers and 16% of study permit holders.

Lower-skilled workers in the food manufacturing industry had a 39% transition rate, compared to 48% for high-skilled workers. Retention rates fell over five years from 73% to 36%. Each subsequent cohort saw lower retention, dropping from 69% in 2006-2010 to 57% in 2016-2019. This suggests that while lower-skilled workers may initially find opportunities in the hospitality industry, the chances of long-term employment and transition to permanent residency are lower than for their higher-skilled counterparts.

Lifting The Work Limit May Impact The International Student Program Negatively 

In 2022, public officials raised concerns about the implications of permitting international students to exceed a 20-hour work week. They worried it could detract from their academics and potentially affect temporary foreign worker programs. These concerns surfaced when Ottawa was considering relaxing restrictions on off-campus work hours for these students—a policy that was later implemented. While this could help address labour shortages, it might also introduce unexpected challenges. 

The international student program has been criticized as a backdoor to permanent residency. Addressing criticisms, the government introduced a cap on study permits to manage the program better. Despite raised concerns, the work hours restriction was lifted until 2023 to tackle labour shortages and later extended to 2024. Minister Marc Miller clarified this as a temporary measure, not a permanent solution. He added that a permanent cap of 20 to 40 hours is under consideration, aiming to balance students’ work experience, financial needs, and academic focus.

Canada Implements Strategies To Enhance The Affordability Of Housing And Groceries 

The latest Leger survey has shown that a significant 83% of the 1522 newcomers in Canada are grappling with the escalating costs of living. In a similar vein, Statistics Canada has reported that over one-third of these newcomers allocate more than a third of their pre-tax earnings towards rent. In light of these findings, the federal government has unveiled fresh measures to enhance affordability. These include a further CAD 99 million injection into the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) to provide much-needed support for low-income renters. This boosts the overall allocation for this cause to CAD 325 million for the fiscal year 2023-2024. 

Other initiatives include the Housing Accelerator Fund valued at $4 billion to enhance housing production, the Canadian Mortgage Charter offering mortgage relief, and the Tax-Free Home Savings Account permitting first-time buyers to save up to CAD 40,000 tax-free towards a downpayment. Additionally, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry has announced studies into corporate conduct affecting grocery prices, with a tripling of funds for consumer affairs research into ‘shrinkflation’ and ‘skimpflation.’

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers offer a comprehensive range of immigration services to assist individuals and families on their journey to immigrate to Canada. We provide clients with expert advice, guidance, and representation, ensuring a smooth and efficient immigration process. Contact us today for a consultation.

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.