Immigration Levels Plan released March 8, 2016

The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released the Federal Government’s 2016 Immigration Levels Plan on March 8, 2016.

2016 Immigration Plan

The 2016 Plan is a 7.4% increase over the 2015 level plan for immigration.  It emphasizes family reunification and humanitarian and compassionate processing over foreign workers.  Canada is also aiming to reduce application processing times.

Some of the Plan’s key points include:

  • Canada will admit between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016;
  • Fewer Economic immigrants will be accepted under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Workers (FSW), and Federal Skilled Trades (FST) programs;
  • Restoration of the maximum age for dependent children to 22 (from 19);
  • Conditional permanent residence (PR) status to Family Class spouses will be eliminated;
  • Number of new applications allowed each year for parents and grandparents has been doubled;
  • A reduction in federal business immigration by approximately 47% from 2015

A few bright spots for employers

  • Foreign workers who are selected from the Express Entry Pool and submit a complete application for permanent residence may be eligible for an Open Bridging Work Permit to extend Work Permit status
  • The Government of Canada has announced that it will undertake a coast-to-coast review of the Foreign Worker Program.
  • Changes to Express Entry (EE) are expected which includes the allocation of points for Canadian siblings and changes to the CEC category to benefit international students

Same old same old

I am disappointed that the Government has not made more of an effort to include economic immigrants and foreign workers in the 2016 plan.  In many ways the new policies are the same “old” ones.  This current government is canceling what the previous government implemented just recently and reinstated many of the original rules.

LMIA 2.0

A small bright spot is that the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will be revisited and hopefully redesigned to be more responsive to true business needs.  Immigration Minister McCallum has acknowledged that the Foreign Worker Program (FWP) has swung from one end of the extreme (too lax) to the other (too stringent) as a knee jerk reaction to high profile scrutiny.

The LMIA review is a good sign that we have some action oriented leadership in Canadian immigration today.  It’s important to fix and readjust what isn’t working in a program instead of taking the easy way out by eliminating it.  The FWP has had its problems but it isn’t beyond repair.  If they do employer consultations, perhaps this will provide a reality check for any redesign considerations.

Foreign worker value

The Canadian economy doesn’t operate as a completely closed employment bubble.  Foreign workers provide flexibility, ingenuity and potential to meet Canada’s needs now and into the future.  In an ideal world, Canadian employers could rely exclusively on its own citizens to meet its labour needs.  However, that isn’t possible or realistic.  Foreign workers will always exist and in Canada’s case, this is often the first step onto the permanent resident pathway.

Temporary work permits facilitate what could be a mutual probationary period for potential immigrants to Canada.  Both parties have a practical way to see how things work out before firming up the relationship – this is better than a money back guarantee.

This IRCC infographic provides a good snapshot of the Immigration Plan.

First ITA draw not requiring job offer to qualify

As Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) works through the growing pains of the new Express Entry (EE) process, we are finally seeing a more reasonable point score. With the March 20, 2015 draw, those who don’t have a validated (LMIA/ PNP) job offer to upload into their online profiles have a chance for permanent residence (PR).

1620 lucky recipients with 481 points or higher received Invitations to Apply (ITA) in this round.  Although 481/1200 doesn’t sound very high, this is still a relatively difficult score to obtain.

The latest announcement details curiously doesn’t appear in the same place as the other previous draws though.