With historically high numbers of new immigrants arriving in Canada, the government has introduced a number of significant reforms over the past year to strengthen the integrity and economic responsiveness of its immigration system.
‘We now have a plan for a faster, more flexible, responsive and secure immigration system that will better meet Canada’s economic needs while continuing to uphold our humanitarian commitments,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. ‘With our changes, immigrants will see their lives improve, and Canadians will see the economy grow,’ he added.
In the past year alone, the government has strengthened the immigration system by introducing and passing the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which allows for the collection of biometric data from visa applicants and the Economic Action Plan 2012, which makes the economic stream faster and more flexible to contribute to jobs, growth and prosperity.
The changes cleared the way for a new, modernized Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP) by eliminating the old backlog that was leading to wait times of more than seven years for skilled worker applicants.
There have also been a significant number of regulatory changes. As part of the government’s commitment to family reunification, it has introduced the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, valid for up to 10 years for visits of up to two years, which has been a great success with nearly 3,700 successful applications in its first six months, and reduced the backlog for sponsored parents and grandparents.
Other regulatory and programme changes crack down on fraud and abuse in the system by taking action against marriage fraud by barring sponsored spouses from sponsoring a new spouse for at least five years and proposing a new two year period of conditional permanent residency for some sponsored spouses.
There has also been a crack down on crooked immigration representatives aimed at helping people who want to immigrate to Canada by protecting them from exploitation and abuse and action against residence and citizenship fraud.
Further changes have been aimed at protecting vulnerable workers by prohibiting the issuance of visas and work permits for foreigners coming to work in strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies.
Improvements are being made to the FSWP to place greater emphasis on selection criteria that have shown to contribute to better labour market outcomes, so that Canada can select skilled workers who would be able to integrate more rapidly and successfully into the Canadian labour market.
Changes to the Canadian Experience Class aim to make permanent residence even more accessible to talented skilled workers proficient in English or French, with Canadian educational credentials and work experience who are already doing well in Canada and a new immigration stream has been introduced to attract and retain international PhD students.
‘We are continuing to make changes to create a faster, more flexible immigration system. We have made great strides in the past year, but we know there is always more work to do and look forward to even more improvements and reforms in the year ahead,’ Kenney added.