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Weekly Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates  March 25 – 31 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 review of Canadian immigration news. Follow us to stay informed about recent changes and their impact on your immigration process.

Canada Has Witnessed The Most Significant Yearly Population Growth Since 1957

Canada experienced a significant population growth of 3.2% in 2023, marking the highest surge since 1957 and taking the total number of residents to an impressive 40,769,890. This substantial increase can be attributed mainly to temporary immigration, which accounted for 97.6% of the growth. Had it been solely dependent on natural increase and permanent immigration, the growth would have been a more modest 1.2%. During this period, Canada extended a warm welcome to 471,771 permanent immigrants, further bolstering the population. Moreover, the country also became a temporary home to 804,901 non-permanent residents, primarily composed of workers seeking better opportunities and international students pursuing their academic goals. 

Remarkably, more than one in ten non-permanent residents in Canada were asylum claimants, demonstrating Canada’s dedication to offering protection to those in need. As of January 1, 2024, Canada’s estimated count of non-permanent residents was 2,661,784. This figure comprised 2,332,886 permit holders and their families, plus 328,898 asylum claimants. The last quarter of 2023 was particularly significant for Canada’s demographics, with a population rise of 241,494, or 0.6%. This marked the highest growth rate for a fourth quarter since 1956, further highlighting Canada’s strong population growth in recent years.

The Immigration Minister Asserted That The Federal Cap Will Not Impact Good Universities And Colleges

The government has capped international study permits by 35% to 364,000, addressing housing shortages and reflecting a commitment to fair housing access. Immigration Minister Marc Miller recently made a statement indicating that the government’s new restrictions would not adversely impact those colleges and universities that are not contributing to the over-enrollment of international students. The minister’s comments addressed this critical issue in the education sector. He issued a stern warning that the federal government in Ottawa may be compelled to intervene if there is a failure by the provinces to uphold this new directive. 

Study permits are assigned based on each province’s population, effectively decentralizing the distribution process. This tactic allows for a more tailored approach to handling the arrival of international students. Also, Canada has made remarkable strides as more provinces like Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador join British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba in issuing Provincial Attestation Letters (PAL). This move is seen as an effort to balance the influx of international students and ensure that the benefits of educational immigration are spread more evenly across the country.

Despite Record OINP Nominations, Ontario Still Lacks Family Doctors 

Despite the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) nominating a record number of healthcare workers last year, Ontario still lacks family doctors. The OINP, crucial for attracting and retaining skilled immigrants, actively engages foreign healthcare professionals. However, the Canadian Residency Matching Service reports an increase in unfilled family medicine residencies, with 108 of the 560 available slots remaining vacant. This shortage persists despite the OINP nominating over 2,000 internationally educated healthcare workers for immigration last year, reflecting the province’s commitment to meet its healthcare needs. 

Interestingly, about 12% of all OINP nominations last year went to healthcare workers. This clearly shows the program’s focused approach to meeting the increasing demand for healthcare professionals in the province. Yet, despite these efforts, around 2.3 million Ontarians still need a family doctor. This is quite a concern given family doctors’ vital role in delivering primary healthcare and handling chronic diseases. It seems that the perceived stress of the profession and the perceived lack of sufficient funding deter many medical graduates from applying to family medicine. 

Alberta Seeks Increased Immigration To Address Workforce Shortfall 

In response to the existing workforce shortage, Alberta is actively seeking to increase the volume of immigrants, with a specific focus on bolstering the provincial nominee program allocations. The primary goal is to facilitate more workers in acquiring permanent citizenship. The current quota, set for 2024, stands at 9,750. Unfortunately, this figure represents a decrease from the previous allocation of 10,140. Premier Danielle Smith has voiced concerns that this reduction could negatively impact Alberta’s economy. Moreover, there is a potential for it to disrupt the aid being provided to Ukrainian refugees, who have been arriving in significant numbers since 2022. 

As of February 2024, employment in Alberta has seen a substantial rise, reaching 2.5 million. This represents a 4.1% increase compared to the previous year. However, significant labour shortages exist in several key sectors, including construction technology, healthcare, and education. These sectors are critical to the economy and the well-being of Alberta’s residents. Considering these factors, Smith has formally requested an increase in the annual allotments. Specifically, the Premier has asked for a significant rise to 20,000 allotments annually from 2024 to 2026. On top of this, she has also requested an additional 10,000 slots to be specifically allocated for Ukrainian evacuees.

Airport Asylum Applications Strain The Canadian Refugee System 

The Immigration Refugee Board of Canada announced that approximately 72,000 refugee claims were registered at Canadian airports from 2019 to 2023. This surge in claims has been particularly noticeable at Montreal Trudeau International and Toronto’s Pearson Airports, which have witnessed significant increases. As the Canada Border Services Agency has revealed, the government has been grappling with processing these cases and dealing with the subsequent removal of rejected claims. Just last month, over 28,000 active warrants were issued to failed refugee claimants, which illustrates the growing complexity of this situation. 

The unexpected rise in refugee claims is partly due to the closure of Roxham Road, an informal border crossing. This closure led to a sudden increase in claims at Montreal’s airport, predominantly from Mexican nationals. This influx has resulted in a backlog, leaving many applicants in a state of uncertainty for years. To tackle this issue, Ottawa has reinstated visa requirements for Mexican nationals to manage the growing number of asylum claims. However, it is important to mention that most of these claims are being declined, intensifying the situation.

Immigrants In Canada Are Taking On More Entry-Level And Professional Roles 

According to a study conducted by Statistics Canada, the dynamic landscape of the Canadian labour market has seen a notable shift, with immigrants progressively occupying a diverse range of roles. These roles span from unskilled positions, which many native Canadians are often hesitant to take on for various reasons, to highly skilled, professional positions requiring a certain level of expertise and knowledge. The study shows that immigrants and temporary foreign workers have once occupied roles by Canadian-born workers, who now avoid low-skilled jobs for low satisfaction, poor wages, or career advancement aspirations. 

From 2001 to 2021, there has been a noticeable shift in the landscape of the employment sector. Specifically, the number of individuals employed in low-skilled roles has significantly decreased, with a reduction of approximately 500,000 in these positions. This decline in low-skilled employment has been largely offset by the influx of immigrant and temporary foreign workers, who have filled an estimated 360,000 of these positions. This trend illustrates the increasingly important role that these workers are playing in maintaining the balance of the labour market. Additionally, there has been a remarkable upsurge in the number of immigrants taking on high-paying, professional roles, with an impressive 92.4% increase in immigrant workers occupying such positions.

Ukrainians Requested The Federal Government To Prolong The CUAET Program 

Ukrainian nationals living in Canada are actively appealing for an extension to the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Amidst the current volatile and unpredictable situation in Ukraine, Ukrainians in Canada are expressing a strong wish to prolong their stay beyond the initial conditions of the CUAET. While Immigration Minister Marc Miller has not given clear approval for extending this program, he has expressed an understanding of the scenario. He recognizes the necessity for more adaptable immigration policies in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. 

Survey data suggests that nearly 90% of Ukrainians who arrived in Canada following Russia’s invasion in February 2022 are interested in becoming permanent residents. They view Canada as a secure place to rebuild their lives. Despite this, the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) only permits a three-year stay with open work and study privileges, leaving the path to permanent residency somewhat ambiguous. From March 2022 to February 2023, Canadian immigration services registered a staggering number of CUAET applications, surpassing one million. However, migration rates were lower, with just 25.9% of those applicants relocating to Canada during this timeframe.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers are committed to helping you navigate the immigration process with ease. Our team has the expertise to guide you through each step, ensuring a smooth transition to your new life in Canada. Reach out to us today to start your journey to a successful immigration.

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.