Canadian Immigration in 2015
Since the Conservative party came to power nearly ten years ago, Canadian immigration has experienced significant changes under former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and his successor Chris Alexander. In September, Prime Minister Stephen Harper summed up the goals behind these changes in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, stressing an increased focus on the long-term needs of the economy and labour market.
While some recent developments have drawn criticism from industries that rely on immigrant labour,the emphasis on economic and skills-based immigration nonetheless continues in 2015. Below, we highlight the major changes underway. Look out for more news on these and other Canadian immigration issues in the near future.
Express Entry program
As of January 1st, Canada’s new Express Entry system (excluding the province of Québec) was launched to expedite permanent residency by matching high-skilled immigrants with prospective employers. Candidates will be selected every two to three weeks to apply for permanent residency, with priority given to those with permanent job offers. As a result, most newcomers will no longer enter the country on a first-come, first-served basis.
Express Entry will also reduce the permanent residency process to under six months for highly skilled immigrants qualified to fulfill the needs of the Canadian labour market. As before, employers must prove that they have made every effort to hire a Canadian before offering the position to a foreign national. The job-matching component is expected to launch in the spring.
Increased fee for citizenship application
January 1st also marked an increase in citizenship application costs to $530 per adult applicant. The anticipated Canadian immigration numbers for 2015 suggest that the increased fees could generate as much as $60 million for the federal government. This latest change to the application process follows last year’s reforms to the Canadian Citizenship Act, some of which drew charges of being unconstitutional.
Resettlement of Syrian refugees
By November 13th of 2014, a total of 457 Syrian refugees had landed in Canada, a number which climbed to 1,063 by the end of December according to spokesperson Kevin Ménard’s statement to CBC News. The figure is still short of the government’s commitment to welcome 1,300 refugees by the end of the year, a fact which has drawn criticism from immigrant groups. However, Ménard promises that the rest are arriving, and that Canadian immigration will “work expeditiously to fulfil [its] commitment” in the new year.
Following the UN’s global plea for the resettlement of 100,000 refugees from Syria, Canada is expected to approve 10,000 more Syrian refugees over the next two years.
Motion for refugee health care
In other refugee-related news, the federal government will hear a motion for refugee health care on January 27th.
In 2012, Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and Justice for Children and Youth took the government to court for cutting funding for refugee health care. The Federal Court deemed the cuts unconstitutional, and the government agreed to restore coverage for refugees, despite claims from Immigration Minister Alexander that the restored coverage will aid less than 1,000 refugees while costing $4 million in government funds.
“We are doing this because the court has ordered us to do it,” Alexander stated on November 4th. “We respect that decision, while not agreeing with it.”
However, Lorne Waldman, a legal representative for Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, argues that the government has not followed the court order.
Foreign Caregiver program
In late 2014, it became optional for caregivers to reside with their employers. Formerly known as the Live-in Caregiver Program, the Foreign Caregiver Program has also instated a new cap on the number of caregivers accepted under two new categories: childcare providers and caregivers for the elderly or persons with chronic medical needs. Caregivers must still wait two years before becoming eligible to apply for permanent residency. The government is currently facing a backlog of more than 60,000 caregivers awaiting approval for permanent resident status—a figure that Minister Alexander hopes to reduce dramatically throughout 2015.
While changes to the program have been welcomed, caregivers still desire additional reforms. Advocacy groups for Filipino-Canadian caregivers have voiced disappointment that foreign caregivers will not be granted permanent residency as soon as they arrive in Canada. Advocates also want family members of caregivers to be admitted to Canada.
The Foreign Caregiver program is also part of the federal government’s plans to accept greater numbers of economic immigrants in 2015.
To speak with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm @ 1-855-360-4333.