Why Canada is focusing on immigration candidates living in the country
With international travel low and immigration targets high, Canada has been opening pathways for domestic immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence.
The Canadian government is depending on foreign nationals who are likely already living in Canada to meet its immigration targets for the year. Canada has set out to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents by the end of 2021. Normally, it is possible to apply for Canadian immigration from overseas, but border restrictions make it difficult for approved permanent residents abroad to travel to Canada.
Consequently, Canada must rise to the challenge of meeting its targets without relying on overseas candidates. The pandemic has thrust Canada’s economy into precarious territory, but experts say high levels of immigration will be an important tenant to long-term recovery.
The Canadian government has maintained its support for immigration. Though unemployment is still high in Canada due to coronavirus-related public health measures, political rhetoric has stayed the course on immigration. Immigrants create jobs, and fill gaps in the labour market, all of which contribute to a robust economy.
But, the pandemic continues. Amid the third wave of coronavirus, travel restrictions are only getting tighter, which makes it difficult to admit overseas immigrants.
Many of those who have been approved for a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) since March 2020 are still unable to travel to Canada. When Canada first introduced its travel restrictions, approved permanent residents who got their COPR after March 18, 2020, were not exempt. Newly approved permanent residents from any country other than the U.S. are still not allowed to complete their landing and officially become Canadian immigrants. There are exemptions, however, for some international students, essential workers, family members, and other groups.
Furthermore, lockdown measures have forced many immigrants out of work. There are high levels of immigrants working in hard-hit sectors such as accommodation and food services. A number of these occupations are not considered “skilled work” so there are limited pathways to permanent residency for many temporary residents who are already in Canada.
These obstacles encourage the Canadian government to look for new solutions.
In-Canada experience beneficial for labour market outcomes
Those who are already living in Canada are likely to have Canadian work experience.
According to a Statistics Canada study, these individuals fare better in the labour market by 8 per cent than those who do not have Canadian experience. Those with Canadian experience also fared better than overseas immigrants with pre-arranged employment.
This may come down to multiple reasons. For example, those with experience have already settled in Canada, they have become more proficient in English or French, and they have learned more about Canadian work culture, which may be different than in their home country.
Main pathways to PR for those in Canada
Candidates who live in Canada have many options to choose from to become permanent residents.
So far in 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have held Express Entry draws that are specific to just two programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This is because candidates of these two programs are likely to be in Canada already.
To be eligible for the CEC, candidates must have at least one year experience in Canada. They must also have a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of either 5 or 7, depending on the occupation. They must also intend to live outside Quebec.
All Canadian provinces and territories except for Quebec and Nunavut have their own PNPs. This allows the provincial governments to nominate individuals who are helping to address their own labour shortages for permanent residency.
By having their own immigration programs, provincial governments are better able to respond to their labour market needs. For example, Ontario's Human Capital Priorities Stream allows the province to fill labour market gaps by inviting Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination. Periodically, the province holds PNP draws to invited candidates in targeted occupations. In 2019, Ontario started holding Tech Pilot draws to help bring in enough workers to meet the growing demand for tech talent.
Quebec has its own immigration programs. The Quebec Experience Program is a popular programs for international students who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the province. Temporary foreign workers with eligible experience may also apply for this program.
Alternatively, Quebec offers the Regular Skilled Worker Program for skilled workers and international student graduates who wish to immigrate to the province. This program uses a points system to determine who gets a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ).
The CSQ is the document that the province issues to successful immigration candidates. It shows IRCC that this candidate has been selected for permanent residence in Quebec, but it does not grant holders permanent residence. Only IRCC can issue permanent residency visas.
New PR pathways
In addition to these programs, Canada has introduced six new immigration streams that are launching on May 6, 2021. Three of the streams have an intake cap, and the other three do not. The streams are listed below, with their corresponding quotas.
- PR pathway for health care workers (20,000 applications);
- PR pathway for workers in other essential occupations (30,000 applications);
- PR pathway for international graduates (40,000 applications);
- PR pathway for French-speaking health care workers (no quota);
- PR pathway for French-speaking workers in other essential occupations (no quota);
- PR pathway for French-speaking international graduates (no quota).
Health care workers and other workers must have one year of Canadian work experience in a pre-approved essential occupation. International graduates must have graduated and received their credential no earlier than January 2017. All candidates must be physically present and working in Canada at the time they apply.
As a result of these programs, Canada could add about 90,000 new permanent residents to its population. The immigration department did not adjust its level’s plan for 2021, but told CIC News in an email these newcomers could be reflected in 2022.
“This new pathway, along with any other adjustments that may be required to reflect new priorities and developments, will be reflected in the 2021 Annual Report and as part of the planning for the 2022 levels plan,” an IRCC spokesperson says.
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