Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released a major announcement concerning expected changes to several immigration regulations. The changes, published in the Forward Regulatory Plan 2016—2018, outline anticipated reviews to existing conditions of various immigration programs.
A Forward Regulatory Plan does not bring any change into effect; rather, it is a list of anticipated regulatory changes or actions that IRCC intends to realize over the next two years. Numerous objectives were put forward, which are summarized below.
Changes to the Definition of Dependent Child
IRCC proposes to increase the maximum age of a dependent child accompanying a principal applicant on an application. Currently, unmarried children aged 19 and under may be included on an application. The intention is to enable more immigrants to bring their children with them, and reduce the need for multiple applications within a family. No definite age was proposed for the change.
Changes to Conditional Permanent Residence for New Sponsored Spouses
Currently, sponsored spouses who have been married for less than two years or who have no children with their spouse at the time of application are granted conditional permanent residence. Consequently, they are required to live with their spouse for two years following their arrival in Canada in order to maintain their permanent residence status. While no concrete changes were proposed in the Forward Regulatory Plan, IRCC states that the proposal to change this requirement arose from concerns of the effect the requirement has on vulnerable spouses.
Changes to Support Changes to the Citizenship Act
Following commitments from the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party of Canada to amend the Citizenship Act, the Forward Regulatory Plan states that a proposal will be developed to amend citizenship regulations to support changes to the Citizenship Act.
Repeal of Live-in Caregiver Program
On November 30, 2014, the Government of Canada announced that the Live-In Caregiver Program would be suspended, and that two new programs – the Caring for Children Class and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class – would take its place. These replacement programs still provide a pathway to permanent residence. Meanwhile, individuals in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program may continue to be eligible for permanent residence, if their initial Live-in Caregiver work permit was based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requested on or before November 30, 2014.
Changes to Business Immigration Programs
Following the termination of the federal Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs in 2014, the Forward Regulatory Plan states that a regulatory proposal will be developed to remove these programs from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPA).
Changes to the International Mobility Program
The International Mobility Program (IMP) is a temporary foreign worker program run by IRCC, separate from the Temporary Foreign Worker program run by Employment and Social Development Canada. Its mandate is to facilitate the entry of LMIA-exempt foreign nationals in order to respond to Canada’s labour needs and advance national economic and cultural interests.
The Forward Regulatory Plan proposes amending the IMP to exclude diplomatic missions and certain international organizations, from employer compliance criteria. The intention is to ease mobility between countries and comply with international agreements of which Canada is a part.
Changes to Support the Expansion of Eligibility for the Electronic Travel Authorization
In 2015, it was announced that certain categories of low-risk travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania — countries whose citizens need Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) in order to enter Canada — would be exempt from the TRV requirement. Regulatory changes are required to allow nationals of these three countries who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years, or who hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa, to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) instead of a TRV for travel to Canada by air.
The Forward Regulatory Plan also states that changes to the information sharing policy with the United States are required, to account for a new immigration information sharing connection to confirm the validity of a visa.
Changes to Support the Expansion of Biometrics
Certain amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) are required, in order to align with legislative changes to the IRPA that allow for the expansion of biometrics.
Changes to Support Five Country Conference Information Sharing
This objective intends to improve and support information sharing between the immigration authorities of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. (The fifth country in the Five Country Conference is the United States, which is not mentioned in this objective of the Forward Regulatory Plan). Amendments will be introduced to the IRPA to establish the scope of immigration information sharing — what may be shared, whose information may be shared, and how it may be shared.
Changes to Support Further Enhancements to the In-Canada Asylum System
The Forward Regulatory Plan states that amendments to the IRPR will be needed to support enhancements to the in-Canada asylum system. These enhancements are still being developed, and no concrete amendments were proposed in this objective.
Changes to Support the Electronic Administration/Processing of Applications under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Following amendments made in 2015 to increase the use of electronic processing systems, the Forward Regulatory Plan defines anticipated changes that will enable IRCC and other authorities to use electronic tools and systems, including automated processing systems.
IRCC intends to make regulations that will:
- Specify details regarding the technology and systems to be used and matters relating to that system (e.g. the date/time when electronic documents or information are deemed to be sent or received);
- Require the use of an electronic system or means in certain circumstances (including an e-payment system), as well as to specify exceptions to that requirement (e.g. in cases of disability);
- Prescribe circumstances where the Minister may direct the use of alternate means to the use of the electronic system (e.g. in cases of natural disasters);
- Specify where a non-electronic application or other document should be sent.
What the Forward Regulatory Plan Means
Government departments periodically release Forward Regulatory Plans to outline their planned changes and actions. These releases are intended to inform the public and businesses, in order to enable stakeholders to plan for the future.
“Many of these changes and objectives may seem unconnected to the most popular streams of immigration — for example, Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Programs are not mentioned,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“However, individuals interested in immigrating to Canada should note that this Forward Regulatory Plan reflects an ongoing commitment from IRCC to remain accountable and transparent to the public, and to continue to improve its services.”
When the Government of Canada implements changes relating to the immigration regulations, CICNews will report news and analysis of those changes.
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