Canada’s new plan to help foreign students
and workers become permanent residents
by Michael Scott
A private members bill, which was passed in House in the spring, called for a “comprehensive plan to expand the economic immigration stream.” Several months later Minister Sean Fraser tabled the much-anticipated Strategy to Expand Transitions to Permanent Residency on September 20, 2022.
The plan to help foreign students and foreign workers become permanent residents is welcome but criticized by some as too little. The NDP immigration critic, Jenny Kwan, said that the announcement is just a recycling of what is already in place. Kwan wrote in an e-mail to CIC News, “This so-called strategy lacks any real information or details of what a true comprehensive plan would entail.” Jasraj Singh Hallan was equally unimpressed by the Liberal’s strategy. He wrote, “Instead of providing details and tangible goals, the Minister has created a wish list of things that his department should have done long before M-44 was passed in the House.”
The opposition is underwhelmed by the announcement. Beyond the unkind reaction from the opposition parties, let us examine what is contained in the plan.
“Simply put,” in the Executive Summary, “we’re focused on helping individuals transition from temporary to permanent residence by expanding or adjusting the existing pathways for foreign nationals who are working in Canada and seeking to stay, including international student graduates.” The government is hopeful and positive unlike the critics. We shall see over the next year which vision is closer to the truth. For the time being, let us consider the five pillars on which the Strategy is built.
Pillar 1: Increased immigration
The government is still working on the existing immigration targets outlined in the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan. Canada is expecting to welcome 431,645 newcomers for 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024, to meet the current demand for increased immigration. The bulk of the expected arrivals will come from the Economic Class with projected numbers of 241,850 in 2022, 253,000 in 2023 and 267,750 by 2024. The anticipated arrival numbers are expected to change before November 1 when Minister Fraser presents a new Immigration Levels Plan to include 2025.
Pillar 2: Express Entry reform
The government intends to reform the Express Entry system to invite candidates by occupation-specific invitations through Express Entry in early 2023. There are also changes under the assessment of EOI profiles under the Comparative Ranking System (CRS), which will place more emphasis on Canadian work experience and education, language skills and job offers. IRCC will add a number of occupations to the eligibility list including: payroll administrators; dental and laboratory assistants; nurses’ aides, orderlies and patient service associates; pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants; sheriffs and bailiffs; correctional service officers; bylaw enforcement and regulatory officers; estheticians, electrologists and related occupations; residential and commercial installers and servicers; pest controllers and fumigators; other repairers and servicers; transport truck drivers; bus drivers, subway and other transit operators; and aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors.
In addition to the additions, several occupations are being deleted in November, including performers; program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness; and tailors, dressmakers, furriers and milliners.
Pillar 3: Other economic immigration improvements
The other changes include the introduction of a new National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2021 due to be released in November. The long familiar distinction between High Skilled 0, A and B occupations and Low Skilled C and D occupations will be replaced with TEER levels, in which TEER 0 equivalent to the current 0 level, TEER 1 and TEER 2 matching A level and TEER 3 replacing skilled level B. Skill level C replaced by TEER 4 and D by TEER 5.
The other economic immigration changes are improvements in foreign qualifications recognition to ease the transition for foreign trained professionals, enhancements to the Agri-Food Pilot and Care Giver Pilot, changes for transition of foreign trained doctors and the general transition to the work force for foreign trained students.
Pillar 4: Helping communities
The major addition is the new Municipal Nominee Program, which has been in works for several years but was delayed by the COVID pandemic. Canada also intends to assist the francophone minority communities outside of Quebec by implementing a 4.4 per cent target for French speaking immigrants by 2024.
Pillar 5: Modernizing the system
IRCC is working towards implementing more on-line application submissions to speed up the process and reducing the sizable backlog in processing cues. It is working towards modernizing the system by technological enhancements.
The Strategy is a start, and hopefully a new direction. Canada cannot remain competitive in attracting the brightest and the best immigrant applicants without changing the ways things are done. A backlog of over two million speaks badly of the system in place. The opposition critics have been quick to jump on the plan, which is not fully developed. However, change is in the air with the online submission of sponsorship applications and the hope that this will improve efficiencies and make for faster outcomes. Let’s give the government a chance to show that change is beneficial, and things are improving. A change normally comes with a start not a finished product. So, patience is prescribed for all concerned.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.