Changes in Canada’s Immigration Goals Could Benefit Immigrants

Canada has announced it will accept one million immigrants between 2017 and 2019 as part of a new government initiative.  Canada will accept 300,000 newcomers in 2017, 310,000 in 2018, and 330,000 in 2019, making 1% of the nation’s population immigrant-based by 2020. These goals are still lower than the Advisory Council on Economic Growth’s recommendations of bringing in 450,000 new residents each year through 2021.

According to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, the goals will help address the concerns of an aging population and will bring innovation and economic improvement to Canada. As part of the influx, the government will work to improve the speed, wait times, and backlogs of the immigration system. The more gradual immigration expansion, when compared to the Advisory Council on Economic Growth’s recommendations, will also ensure for better integration, according to Hussen.

Previously, immigration numbers have largely seen goals established on a year-by-year basis, but this new model of releasing longer-term plans is partly in response to provinces, which want more notice to adjust programs and services.

Criticism

While the news of increased target numbers was welcomed by some, there have been voices of criticism, including concerns over infrastructure, housing, public transit, and other services, especially in larger cities where immigrants tend to settle. Concerns have also been expressed over the impact of removing skilled workers from their countries of origin.

Michelle Rempel, MP for Calgary Nose Hill, noted that Canada has to do better at integration by ensuring language mental health supports are in place and by closing what she called “loopholes” in the Safe Third Country Agreement, which she claims have contributed to illegal border crossings from the United States.

Other critics, including the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, noted that the numbers are not high enough and will not fully offset retiring Canadian workers or the economic needs of the country. At the other end of the spectrum, some sources note that 55% of visible minorities in Toronto earn less than $30,000 annually, raising questions about the economic opportunities available for newcomers.

Are You Interested in Coming to Canada?

Now that Canada is actively seeking to increase immigration numbers, you may be able to apply for permanent residency if you qualify. Immigration Direct has resources about Express Entry, the Federal Skilled Workers Program, and other programs for immigrants. Take a look at our website and explore our resources to learn more about options available for you.

Immigration and Work in Canada: A New Perspective

There is good news for immigrants in Canada interested in the job market. According to newly released figures from Canada’s 2016 census, almost 25% of workers in Canada are immigrants and more than 50% have at least a bachelor’s degree.  The number of immigrant workers in Canada has grown by 21.2% since 2006 and in Toronto about half of all workers are immigrants.

The changes and increases may be due to changes to the immigration system, specifically the Express Entry system, which was created in 2015 to address labor shortages. Since the initiative was launched, Canada has invited 145,368 applicants to live and work in Canada through that program.

The increasing number of workers from other countries may be attributed in part to Canada’s search for skilled workers to replace an aging working population and in part to fill jobs which are not filled by Canadian-born workers. Some sectors, such as healthcare, face worker shortages and immigration may be one way to address these problems. With immigrant workers twice as likely as Canadian-born workers to hold a master’s or Ph.D. degree, immigration workforces give employers the opportunity to hire highly skilled and highly qualified workers.

Good Wage News

Workers in Canada also have some good news when it comes to money. Statistics Canada has reported that immigrant workers arriving in 2014 were earning $24,000 in Canada by 2015, the highest wages for new immigrants reported since 1981. Part of the reason for this may be the Canadian Experience Class, which prioritizes workers with needed skills and Canadian work experience, meaning they start in a better economic position.  

Challenges and Opportunities

This is not to say that immigrants still don’t face challenges in the workplace.  Immigrant workers are still earning less than Canadian-born employees. Census Canada shows that workers born in the country earned an average of $36,300 in 2015, while immigrants earned $29,770 that same year, with the biggest wage gaps appearing in Alberta. As they stay in Canada longer, immigrants start to earn more.

In addition, workers may still face confusion when applying for permanent resident status in Canada or may worry about finding work in the country. Some worry about ensuring their credentials are recognized when they come to Canada.

If you are seeking to live and work in Canada and would like some support, Immigration Direct has resources to help you apply for Express Entry, the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and other programs designed to help you start a new life. With Immigration Direct, you get the newest versions of immigration forms as well as clear step-by-step instructions, so you have everything you need to apply with confidence.

New Definition for Age of Dependants in Canada

New definition of age of dependants now in forceThe Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship fulfilled a key mandate on October 27, 2017, by announcing that the definition of the age of dependants has been changed. Previously, the age of dependants was defined as “under 19” but with the change, the new definition will be “under 22.”

According to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, this change will ensure more individuals can remain with their families, keeping families together. The Minister reports that keeping families together is a key mandate for the government of Canada and that keeping families together strengthens communities and facilitates integration into Canadian society.

All new applications Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives on or following October 24, 2017, will be subject to the new rule. Children who are over the age of 22 but are dependent on their parents due to a medical or mental condition will continue to qualify for dependent status.

What Can I Do If My Child is a Dependant Under the New Rule?

If you have an existing application in the process as of May 3, 2017, you may also be able to sponsor or add children if they qualify under the new rules. An online web tool can help applicants determine if their child qualifies as a dependant. If your child qualifies and your application is already under process as of May 3, 2017, you will need to notify IRCC immediately. You have until January 31, 2018, to notify the IRCC that you wish to add or sponsor your child. The IRCC will contact you to explain how to add your child to the application.

If your child does not qualify as a dependant, he or she may be able to immigrate to Canada independently on their own. Immigration Direct has resources to help you find ways you can immigrate and resources to help you apply. From FAQs to detailed information to help you apply, Immigration Direct has the resources you need.

Are You Affected by DACA Being Rescinded?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created by the Obama administration to allow children of undocumented US residents to have some ability to remain the country legally. DACA allowed qualified residents to remain in the United States without deportation as long as they paid a fee and renewed their status every two years. Those who applied for deportation protection under this program were sometimes called “Dreamers,” so named because of the long-awaited but never passed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM).

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that the US will be rescinding DACA, leaving the approximately 800,000 individuals who have DACA protection vulnerable to deportation. Some of those young people may wish to consider Canada as an option.

Already, some within the Canadian system have stated that Canada should develop a system to bring young people living under DACA protections to Canada. Ontario Independent Senator Ratna Omidvar has proposed Canada pursue Dreamers through its economic migrant program.

Although there is no formal program in place right now for Dreamers to apply to get into Canada with special processing, those living in the United States under the DACA program may qualify to apply for immigration into Canada.

 

How to Apply to Immigrate to Canada

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stated Congress will be tasked with finding ways to protect young people who are affected by the rescinding of DACA, but so far no specific solution has been created under the Trump administration. The DACA program will not be rescinded until March 5, 2018, which may give Dreamers time to find other solutions.

If you are living in the US under the DACA program you may wish to consider Canada as an option. If you have a degree and have some work experience, you may qualify under the Express Entry system. This system is points-based and allows Canada to invite people who have needed job skills. You can apply online by filling out a form.

You are awarded points based on your skills and education. Once you are in the Express Entry pool, you can start seeking a job in Canada. If you get a job offer, you can get additional points. If you are one of the higher-ranking applicants in the pool, you may be invited to apply for permanent residency in Canada.

There are also routes to entry into Canada. Dreamers may be able to apply for permanent residency in Canada by applying under one of the economic classes as a self-employed person, caregiver, immigrant investor or other class. Another option is to apply for sponsorship. If you have an immediate family member who is a Canadian citizen, he or she may be able to sponsor you to immigrate to Canada.
If you are considering moving to Canada, Immigration Direct has useful resources as well as detailed and up-to-date information about family sponsorship applications and economic class immigration as well as Express Entry. You can find everything you need in one place so you can start applying right now.

Steps to Stop Irregular Immigration into Canada

Spurred largely by misinformation about Canada’s immigration system, more than 7000 asylum seekers have illegally crossed into Canada from the United States at unmanned checkpoints since June, according to the RCMP. Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has denied claims his department and the government were unprepared for the influx. Nevertheless, Canada is now taking steps to prevent more entries.

Incorrect Information at Root of the Cause

Asylum seekers began entering the country ahead of stated US plans to end protected status for Haiti citizens in the US. According to Canadian authorities , many asylum seekers entered Canada with the mistaken belief that Canada’s laws would permit them to stay, misinformation which was allegedly spread via social media.

In fact, Canada has already ended its protected status for Haitian nationals. In addition, persons in the United States seeking asylum status in Canada are required by immigration laws to apply for asylum status within the United States. Those crossing into Canada across the border may be denied asylum status, according to authorities.

Efforts to Address the Increase in Number

Now, immigration and government authorities are trying to curtail the numbers entering Canada at unmanned border points by using social media to refute the inaccurate information. In addition, a Liberal MP has been sent to Miami to try to spread more accurate information about immigration policies while the Prime Minister meets with Haitian community members and a task force on irregular migration is established. While these efforts are ongoing, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is taking steps to handle the growing number of claims.

Challenges in Immigration

At least some asylum-seekers have noted that Canada’s stated policies were one reason why they chose to enter the country. The Prime Minister tweeted In January that those who flee war and persecution are welcome in Canada. Authorities have pointed out that while this is true, anyone entering the country irregularly does so illegally. Nevertheless, critics of the Prime Minister have said his tweet sent “mixed messages” to asylum seekers and may have contributed to many crossing the border.

While the country seeks to find solutions to the increase of entrants across its borders, small numbers of anti-immigration protests have been staged in a number of cities, including Hamilton, Vancouver, and Quebec City. At one point, an anti-immigration banner was placed on the Montreal Olympic Stadium, which has been acting as temporary housing for asylum seekers. The banner was quickly removed and authorities, as well as counter-protestors, were quick to speak out against anti-immigration groups staging the demonstrations across the country.

Ending Second-Class Citizenship in Canada

Canadian citizenship is considered a valued privilege and there are two ways to become a citizen of the country: through birth and naturalization. Both are intended to confer the same privileges and rights, so that someone who comes to this country and becomes a citizen and someone who is born in Canada both can vote, work, live, and travel as Canadians.

Recent changes to immigration law which will go into effect this year reaffirm that no matter how someone gets their Canadian citizenship they have the same rights. Bill C-6 overturns an earlier law that some claimed created “two classes” of Canadians.

Bill C-24

In 2014, Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, became law. One provision of the bill allowed dual citizen holders and those who had immigrated to Canada to have their citizenship taken away for serious crimes such as terrorism, espionage, or treason.

According to critics of the law, this created a “second class” of citizenship. While Canadians born in Canada and in possession of one citizenship could not have their citizenship taken away from them, no matter what crimes they committed, others could find their citizenship revoked. While the process for taking away citizenship was a complex one and designed for only exemplary cases, it concerned many critics.

Some Canadians had their rights revoked under the bill. In fall 2016, for example, Zakaria Amara had his citizenship taken away. He was a member of the group of 18 people who planned to bomb parts of Toronto.

New Legislation

In May 2017, a new citizenship bill, Bill C-6, was approved by the Senate and which will effectively remove the provisions about revoking citizenship. Among other things, the new immigration law will allow Canadians to retain their citizenship, even if they are convicted of a serious crime. Those who had their citizenship revoked under Bill C-24 will have it automatically reinstated. As before, citizenship can still be taken away from those who obtained their status in through fraud or falsification.

Now, Canadians who bear the title of citizenship will be able to keep it, no matter how their journey to citizenship started.

Canadian Citizenship Applications for Kids Include High Costs

Canadian Citizenship Applications for Kids Include High CostsMany would-be Canadians who apply for citizenship are adults or adults with children. However, a new law which will go into effect in fall of this year will permit children to apply for citizenship on their own. Children who are orphaned, estranged from their parents, have parents who do not qualify for citizenship or who are in otherwise challenging situations will be able to apply to become citizens. The new law also reduces language and knowledge requirements, so children under the age of 18 will not have to meet these prerequisites to get citizenship.

One concern for some Senators and critics, however, is the fact that children applying alone will still face the same high application fees as adults. When children apply for citizenship with their parents, their application fee is $100. When applying alone, their fee will be $530.

The fee for citizenship has long been debated, with some critics noting the large price tag can place a burden on those who want to start a new life in Canada. Some critics believe that the $530 fee and the $100 for child applicants means families struggle to pay for fees when they could be investing the money to start their new lives. Some feel the fees especially are disadvantageous for families, who are required to pay extra for children.

It’s no surprise, then, that the $530 application fee for children applying alone has come under scrutiny. Conservative Senator Victor Oh opposes the fee, saying it makes already vulnerable applicants face a more precarious situation. Without the help of adults, children may not be able to afford the higher application cost. Oh is the Senator who submitted the amendment to allow children to apply for citizenship without an adult.

Oh has also written a letter to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, asking the fee to be lowered to $100 for children applying without an adult. The Immigration Minister is the authority with the discretion to make such a change.

Canada Faces Border Questions

Canada Faces Border QuestionsThis past July and August, unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers have been crossing from the United States into Canada, without attempting to go through typical asylum channels. The numbers are high enough that Montreal’s Olympic Stadium has been opened to offer temporary housing to those entering the country in this way.

Many asylum seekers who cross into Canada from the United States are detained and then begin the asylum process. In large part, the asylum seekers appear to be from Haiti and are moving north amid fears that US President Donald Trump will end the protections offered to Haiti nationals and will compel them to move back to Haiti. Canada’s asylum process is different than that of the United States, however, and protected status for Haitian nationals has already ended in Canada. It is not clear at this time how many of those seeking to stay in Canada will be allowed to do so.  

In the meantime, there is concern about the pressures the added applicants will place on the system. It is unknown where many will be settled and how long asylum applications will be delayed, if at all, due to the influx.

Part of the move towards the north seems to stem from incorrect rumors alleging that Canada welcomes temporary protected status (TPS) holders automatically. In fact, asylum seekers are first screened and if approved must attend an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing date.  If accessing Canada at a port of entry, they must also submit additional application documents within 15 days. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the 2004 Safe Third Country agreement may make asylum seekers ineligible if they enter Canada from the United States.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has publicly stated that the system is working but has stated that the practice of crossing the border illegally is unsafe and has asked asylum seekers to apply for asylum in Canada through official channels from the country where they are located. There has so far been no report of any additional enforcement action planned to try to reduce the flow of people into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency has stated they are placing additional staff on the border to deal with the added demand.

So far, the number of asylum seekers is the highest in nine years, with about 6,500 seeking the status in the province of Quebec alone between January and June 2017.