Prospective expats and visitors to Canada now have a new interactive web tool at their fingertips to help them determine if they are eligible to enter the country.
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has announced the launch of the Come to Canada Wizard.
‘We understand that our application processes can be complex, but this new tool is a major service improvement. The Wizard will make it easier for potential immigrants and visitors to navigate the application process,’ he said.
‘The Wizard should also reduce applicants’ reliance on immigration consultants and hopefully will make the Department more efficient by decreasing calls to our call centre,’ he added.
The Wizard simplifies the application process by matching applicants with the federal immigration option that best suits their specific circumstances. The Wizard does this by asking applicants a series of questions and, based on the answers, it provides the best options for them.
The Wizard leads applicants to a result page that breaks down the application steps and provides instructions and forms.
The new tool is launched as figures reveal that immigration to Canada is falling. There were 25% fewer immigrants into the country in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2010.
The number of permanent resident visas issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada between January and March fell from 84,083 in 2010 to 63,224 this year.
The latest department numbers show a decline across the board, with visas for skilled workers down 28%, family sponsored relatives down 14% and refugees dropping by 25%.
Commenting on this year’s quarterly figures, immigration officials say it is unfair to use the 2010 numbers as a benchmark since it was a record year in granting permanent visas.
‘The department is confident that irrespective of lower visas/authorizations issuance and admissions in the first quarter, it will meet its annual target of visas,’ a spokeswoman said.
Over the last 15 years, Canada’s annual immigration levels have remained around 250,000, about 0.8% of the population.
Since 2008, the federal government has made numerous changes to its immigration programme in an effort to eliminate backlogs and process applications more quickly.
With an aging population, some experts say immigration levels need to increase. Entries need to increase to 350,000 annually to support Canada’s economic growth, according to Anne Golden, president and chief executive officer of the Conference Board of Canada.
According to the government’s current consultation process, Canada would have to increase immigration to nearly 4% of the population to stabilize its old age dependency ratio.
To view the Wizard, go visit the page here.