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Weekly Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates  January 22 – 28 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, ensuring that our clients stay informed of any updates and changes in immigration policy and law. Do not forget to follow us on our social media platforms for more frequent updates and insights on Canadian immigration matters.

IRCC Has Set A Limit On The Intake Of International Students For 2024-2025 

On January 22, 2024, Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), unveiled a two-year cap on international student permit applications to manage growth. In 2024, this cap will lead to approximately 360,000 approved permits, a 35% decrease from 2023. This cap, however, will not affect master’s, doctoral, elementary and secondary education students or those who currently hold permits. Modifications to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program will start from September 1, 2024, impacting students’ curriculum licensing agreements. Graduates of master’s and other short-term graduate programs will qualify for a 3-year work permit, while open work permits will be exclusively available to spouses of master’s and doctoral students. 

Canada values international students’ significant social, cultural, and economic contributions. To preserve these benefits and promote student success, the Government of Canada proactively addresses potential challenges that could compromise the integrity of the International Student Program. This includes managing the number of international students sustainably and taking measures against any threats to the system. On October 27, 2023, IRCC announced steps to fortify Canada’s International Student Program and combat fraud. Starting December 1, 2023, post-secondary Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) must confirm acceptance letters with the IRCC for study permit applications. DLIs that provide superior services will be recognized by the IRCC, including receiving priority in permit processing.

Canada May Implement Visa Requirements For Mexicans 

The Canadian government is currently considering the possibility of imposing visas or other restrictive measures on Mexican nationals to stem the tide of refugee arrivals. This was confirmed by the Public Safety Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, who indicated that such measures could potentially deter asylum claims made through indirect access from Mexico. This contemplation of new, stricter policies comes in the wake of a letter sent by Quebec Premier François Legault to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the letter, Legault communicated Quebec’s inability to accommodate an increasing number of refugees and requested financial compensation. 

The recent surge in immigration has been partly attributed to the removal of visa requirements for Mexican citizens. When Canada decided to lift these requirements, a corresponding rise in arrests within the United States was observed. This pattern implies that eliminating visa regulations may unintentionally encourage unauthorized immigration through Canada. The US Customs and Border Protection agency’s data, indicating a substantial increase in migrants from Canada following the change in visa policy, lends further credence to this assumption.

Canada’s Labour Shortages Are Down By 22% 

The issue of labour shortages in Canada is experiencing a gradual decline, with a significant 22% decrease in the number of managers finding it challenging to source competent workers. Nonetheless, the looming threat of inflation continues to cast a shadow over the economy despite the current downward trend. A comprehensive report from RBC Economics sheds light on this situation, revealing that labour shortages peaked at 41% in the first quarter of 2021. However, there has been a steady decline since then, with the figure dropping to 32% by the third quarter of 2023.

Regarding the future of inflation, the picture remains unclear and unpredictable. Economists from RBC anticipate a minor upward shift in the Consumer Price Index, rising to 3.4% in December. This projected increase is primarily attributed to a significant drop in gas prices. Furthermore, they have observed an overall relaxation in inflation pressures, with surging mortgage interest rates identified as a key factor contributing to price growth. As builders’ focus shifts towards housing, it is evident that the development industry is on a path of growth and expansion.

Two-Step Immigrants Earn More Than One-Step Immigrants 

In a comprehensive recent report, Statistics Canada conducted a comparative analysis of the earnings of one-step and two-step economic immigrants. The study meticulously found that those immigrants who have taken the two-step route, which includes individuals selected from the pools of temporary foreign workers and international students who already have Canadian work experience, consistently and notably earn more than their one-step counterparts. This earning disparity persists even after a decade since their arrival in Canada. 

Two-step immigrants, especially those who have found employment in high-skilled job sectors, have consistently shown better labour market outcomes. One of the key reasons behind this is that employers can assess these potential employees’ skills directly. Over the years, the proportion of immigrants with pre-landing Canadian work experience has substantially increased. Specifically, this number has grown from a modest 12% at the turn of the century in 2000 to a considerable 78% as recently as 2021.

IRCC Allowed More International Students To Work More Than 20 Hours Off-Campus 

On January 23, 2024, IRCC expanded eligibility for international students to work off campus for more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions. Effective from January 1 to April 30, 2024, a new policy permits more international students to undertake more than 20 hours of off-campus work per week during regular academic sessions. This applies to those whose study permit application was received by IRCC between October 8, 2022, and January 1, 2024. The policy amendment is designed to bolster work opportunities and enhance the financial stability of international students while they pursue their studies in Canada. 

Under the guidelines of the previous policy, international students were granted the opportunity to work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week during an academic session if IRCC received their study permit application either before or on October 7, 2022. However, with this new policy change, a larger group of international students can work more hours off-campus, offering them additional financial support and work experience opportunities in Canada. This policy change signifies Canada’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for international students.

Canada Was Home To More Than 1 Million International Students In 2023 

In 2023, Canada hosted over 1 million international students. The number of active study permits surged by 27% to 1,028,850, surpassing the government’s estimate of 950,000. Ontario was the leading host, accommodating 51% of these students, trailed by British Columbia (19.5%) and Quebec (11.5%). This swift expansion came with challenges like housing scarcity and increased pressure on the healthcare system. Consequently, a 35% reduction in approved study permits is anticipated for 2024. The cap is set to reflect each province’s population, which will likely bring about significant shifts in student recruitment across provinces. 

The trend of international students transitioning to permanent residency in Canada is rising. Data from IRCC reveals that from 2021 to 2023, over 355,000 international students secured their permanent resident status. During the same timeframe, more than 627,000 temporary residents also achieved permanent residency. This upward trend will likely continue, fueled by Canada’s welcoming immigration policies and high-quality education system. However, policy changes aimed at managing the number of international students may impact this trajectory in the coming years.

Addressing Canada’s Housing Crisis Involves More Than Just Capping Immigration

In response to the ongoing housing crisis in Canada, Jimmy Jean, the chief economist at Desjardins Group, has voiced his opinion, arguing that reducing immigration will not be a viable solution. This perspective comes in light of claims suggesting that the high levels of immigration and the cap on international student numbers could contribute to the issue at hand. Jean, however, holds a different viewpoint. He believes that the root of the problem does not lie in accepting more immigrants but rather in the scarcity of individuals engaged in construction. This, he states, is where the actual issue lies. Drawing from the history of Canada, Jean emphasized the long-standing consensus regarding the benefits that immigration brings to the country.

To illustrate his point further, Jean referenced Hydro-Quebec’s investment plans, which need a substantial workforce of 35,000 construction workers. This example clearly indicates Canada’s need for immigrant workers and underscores their critical role in the country’s economy and development. In closing his argument, Jean highlighted that the discourse surrounding immigration in Canada is more balanced than in the United States. In his view, the key to addressing the housing crisis lies not in doing less but in doing better. He emphasized the importance of improving policies and strategies rather than limiting the intake of immigrants.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers have extensive experience in helping individuals immigrate to Canada. We guide clients through every step of the complex immigration process, providing expert advice on the best strategies to achieve their immigration goals. We handle a wide array of immigration matters, including family sponsorships, skilled worker applications, business immigration, and refugee claims. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist with your immigration needs.

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.