Canada Immigration: A Year in Review and a Look Ahead

Citizenship & Immigration Canada (“CIC”) certainly had a busy and eventful 2011, beginning with nation-wide consultations on the topic of immigration reform and ending with multiple policy and procedural changes to the immigration system. Some of the changes and reforms have already been implemented, a sign the Conservative Government has made immigration to Canada one of its top priorities.

What Changed in 2011?

Some of the more notable changes include:

  • an increased number of skilled workers will be admitted to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
  • an increased number of Provincial Nominees will be admitted to Canada under various Provincial Nominee Programs.
  • a moratorium on the Investor Class of immigration as well as on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents.
  • the introduction of a ‘Super-Visa’ which allows parents and grandparents to apply for two-year visas in which to visit family.
  • the introduction of a ten-year multiple-entry visa available to all nationals of non-visa exempt countries.
  • significant changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program designed to discourage Canadian employers from exploiting foreign workers while   imposing still penalties for those employers found trying to circumvent the system.
  • changes to various International Experience Class Programs “Formerly known as Youth Mobility Programs” which will affect foreign nationals of European countries currently participating in the initiative.

What to look for in 2012

Some developments we will continue to monitor in 2012 are:

  • the implementation of the Canada/U.S. Exit-Entry system which will undoubtedly affect both temporary and permanent residents in both countries.
  • Canada’s on-going free-trade negotiations with the European Union which could have a profound impact on Canadian/European immigration as a whole.
  • the re-introduction of the Investor Class immigration category. It is anticipated the Investor category will function much differently when it is re-introduced as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
  • an updated list of eligible professions under the Federal Skilled Workers Program which will reflect Canada’s labour market needs in 2012.
  • a reorganization of Canada’s National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) system to update and better reflect the current economic landscape.

While it is far too early to assess what effect the above changes may have on various categories of temporary and permanent immigration to Canada, some of the policies and regulations have the potential to drastically alter how an applicant immigrates to Canada.

Over the course of this new year, we will be monitoring these changes and dissecting what impact they may have on corporate and economic immigration to Canada. In addition, we will be covering topics which most concern our clients as well as those topics which may affect the transfer or mobility of foreign nationals to Canada. Therefore, we encourage our readers to continue to write to us with any questions or topics they wish us to address.

This month, based on reader feedback, we will be covering the much talked-about Canada/U.S. Entry-Exit system followed by our country by country series on the European International Experience Class or “European Youth Mobility Programs”.

We wish all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!