More Canadian immigration pathways for temporary residency

Canada is seeking to provide more avenues of permanent residence to foreign nationals who are already in the country.

After the announcement that Canada would welcome more than 400,000 immigrants per year over the next three years, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told Bloomberg that the federal government would soon announce the matter.

The Minister of Immigration said it was important for Canada to identify how it can speed up the pathways to permanent residence for international students, temporary foreign workers, and asylum seekers already in the country. This is necessary to alleviate the economic challenges that Canada currently faces, in part due to declining immigration levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Declining levels of immigration to Canada have slowed the population, labor force, and economic growth.

Permanent and temporary residents have declined significantly this year. With a net increase of more than 190,000 temporary residents in 2019, the first half of 2020 saw that number decline to 18,221. The number of permanent residents is down 60 percent year-over-year according to government data from August.

Canada ready to miss 2020 immigration target

Based on its current pace, Canada is expected to welcome just 200,000 permanent residents this year, which is far less than the 341,000 it was targeting before the coronavirus pandemic. This has already slowed the growth of Canada’s total population, which was only 0.1% in the second quarter of 2020. Canada’s population is usually growing by more than 1% per year.

Mendicino told Bloomberg that making the temporary residents permanent will meet Canada’s short-term needs to respond to the coronavirus. Mendicino stated it would help address Canada’s long-term demographic challenges, including an aging population and low birth rate. Because of these two factors, more gaps will be created in the labor market as the older population retires. With a low rate of natural growth, Canada will need immigrants to support the population and ensure that vacant positions in the workforce are filled.

The government will look at foreign talent already in Canada to find asylum seekers, students, and workers who have the skills that match essential services to the economy, Mendicino told Bloomberg.

Immigration minister Mendicino also said that students from other countries are “particularly attractive” as potential counter-forces to the effects of an aging population. For this reason, the government makes it easier for them to work in Canada.

For example, Canada allows online study at a designated Canadian educational institution between May 2020 and April 2021 to count for future post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility. Post Graduation Work Permit is highly coveted among international students as it provides them with the Canadian work experience they often need to qualify for a range of economy class immigration programs. These economic immigration programs include the Express Entry – Canadian Experience category, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and the Quebec Experience Program.

Canada also recently opened its borders to students who are enrolled in post-secondary classes that have coronavirus preparedness plans.

Canadian Experience gives you an extra edge

There are two major advantages to providing more public relations channels for existing students, foreign workers, and asylum seekers in Canada. In the short term, this will offset the temporary decline in immigration caused by the pandemic, which will support economic growth. In the long run, this will benefit Canada, as immigrants with Canadian experience tend to do well in the labor market.

The combination of Canadian studies, work experience, social and professional networks, and proficiency in English and/or French results in faster integration into the labor market and high wages in the long run.

Above mentioned findings were shown in numerous studies conducted by Statistics Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and other researchers. Therefore, the selection criteria used by IRCC, the provinces, and territories under the PNP, and by Quebec give preference to applicants with work and study experience in Canada.

What changes can we expect?

Mendicino has not hinted at what the changes might entail, but his options may include one or more of the following:

  • Launch of new federal pilot programs
  • Organize program-specific Express Entry draws
  • Modifying the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to provide more points for the Canadian experience
  • Change the eligibility criteria for federal programs (e.g., reduce the work experience requirement for the Canadian experience category)
  • Extend the duration of temporary work permits to give applicants more time to gain the Canadian work experience they need to qualify for an immigration program such as the Canadian Experience Class.

The minister and IRCC have not provided any further guidance on the reforms they are considering, so stakeholders will have to wait for the federal government’s official word.

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