CIC News: Our top 25 stories from the past 25 years

Kareem El-Assal, Alexandra Miekus, Shelby Thevenot
Published: November 30, 2021

CIC News was born on November 30, 1996.

The vision of our founder, the late David Cohen, was to provide timely and insightful updates to users on the latest developments in Canadian immigration. His goal was to attract clients to his law firm while also helping the many others who would inevitably go on to apply for Canadian immigration on their own. Fortunately, CIC News has grown significantly from its humble beginnings into the leading Canadian immigration news site in the world.

To mark our 25th anniversary, the CIC News team has compiled what we believe are our top 25 stories ever. Criteria for selection includes the story's significance to our brand's history as well as the story's overall significance to our users. We assessed the total readership for each of our articles when compiling this list to short-list our most popular stories ever.

It is important to note the stories are not ranked in order of significance. Ranking the stories would bias more recent articles since our readership has grown over time which means that our newer articles perform better than our older ones.

We hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane.

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25. Vegreville Service Standards

CIC News began humbly with its first ever article summarizing Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada's visa processing standards at its Vegreville, Alberta office. In its early years, CIC News focused on summarizing recent IRCC updates and articles containing David's responses to reader questions.

24. Q & A: Sponsorship

The second CIC News article ever was also fairly austere. It was David's first questions and answers (Q&A) article with a focus on family class sponsorship. The first question was "Is it possible to sponsor a girl friend into Canada?" In case you are wondering, the answer at the time was "no". Today, there are provisions that allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their partner, even if they are not married.

23. Nova Scotia Announces New Immigration Stream - No Job Offer Needed

Often, we at CIC News write an article with little to no expectation it will go viral. Our March 2014 article on a new Nova Scotia PNP stream was a case in point. Despite being a small province with a very low immigrant intake at the time, this article went viral, and remains our fourth most-read piece of all time with over 580,000 readers.

22. Coming to Canada as a Nurse - The Process

Our August 2013 article on coming to Canada as a nurse is another case in point of a piece we had no idea would go viral. The article remains our second most popular of all time, with almost 850,000 readers laying their eyes on it.

21. Saskatchewan significantly expands list of eligible in-demand occupations

As a rule of thumb, CIC News readers usually respond with great interest to articles concerning changes to Canada's skilled worker immigration streams. One of our most popular topics ever was Saskatchewan's reforms to its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in September 2019. The reforms expanded the eligibility criteria, sparking tremendous user interest about the possibility of them immigrating to Saskatchewan.

20. Which province in Canada is easiest to immigrate to?

A major reason the Saskatchewan reforms proved popular is due to the myth that it is "easier" to immigrate to that province than other Canadian jurisdictions. In response to the myth, CIC News authored an article the following September explaining why there is no such thing as an "easy" or "difficult" province to immigrate to.

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19. Canada's New Atlantic Immigration Pilot a Fresh Opportunity

The launch of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) in 2017 sparked great interest due to the tremendous amount of attention being devoted to it by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), as well as the innovative design of the program. In response to the interest, CIC News wrote an article providing an overview of its selection criteria. The article garnered nearly 34,000 shares, which was quite impressive considering the Atlantic region comprised a tiny fraction of Canada's immigrant admissions at the time.

18. Changes to Canadian Citizenship Act Will Allow Immigrants to Apply Earlier and More Easily

Canada has one of the world's highest naturalization rates with some 85 per cent of immigrants eventually becoming Canadian citizens. In 2014, the Canadian government made citizenship reforms that critics argued made it more difficult to become a citizen, and easier to lose citizenship status. In early 2016, the new Canadian government announced proposed reforms that would reverse some of the 2014 changes. CIC News' coverage of the topic attracted significant interest.

17. Bill C-6 to Become Law on June 19, Changing Canada's Citizenship Act

The proposed citizenship law reforms took effect in June 2017, shortly before Canada's 150th anniversary. The CIC News article confirming this development was shared over 50,000 times.

16. Breaking News: Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

In June 2014, the Canadian government announced major reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). At that time, critics were arguing that Canadian employers were abusing the TFWP by circumventing Canadian workers to hire lower paid foreign nationals. The federal government took the allegations seriously, resulting in the introduction of restrictive measures, as chronicled in this CIC News article. It is our fifth most-read article of all time with over 500,000 readers.

15. New Canadian immigration instructions during coronavirus pandemic

One of our most important articles ever took place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. On Sunday March 15, David called the CIC News team noting that IRCC had just released detailed instructions on how it would process immigration applications amid the pandemic. The team got to work and released an article the following morning. Little did any of us know, however, that on the same morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be announcing the closure of the Canadian border. Canada's immigration system has not been the same since, and the pandemic obviously continues to be a focal point of CIC News' coverage.

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14. IRCC provides update on who can come to Canada

The days, weeks, and months shortly after Trudeau's March 16 announcement featured great uncertainty as Canada's immigration rules were up in flux. CIC News provided updates as the Canadian government provided more information. This June 2020 article proved extremely popular thanks to updated IRCC information on who could enter Canada amid ongoing travel restrictions.

13. Canada announces major study and work visa change for fall 2020

Canada has seen a surge in its international student population over the past decade for reasons including its ability to offer quality education, work opportunities, and immigration pathways to new arrivals. One of the most attractive features of Canada's value proposition to international students is the ability to gain what is called a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) upon completing one's studies which can be used to gain the professional work experience needed to be eligible for Canadian immigration. In May 2020, IRCC made the stunning announcement that it would allow students to take Canadian courses online while they are overseas, and still be able to apply for a PGWP when they complete their Canadian program and enter Canada. Given the significance of this announcement, our breaking news story was our third most popular article ever, with over 650,000 readers and over 80,000 shares.

12. Express Entry: First all-program draw since start of pandemic

The pandemic has brought no shortage of surprises to the Canadian immigration space. One example was the first Express Entry draw to consider Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates after the March 2020 border closure. Prior to the pandemic, FSWP candidates comprised nearly half of all successful Express Entry candidates. The draw brought tremendous hope to the FSWP candidates that had waited in limbo for nearly four months waiting for IRCC to resume invitations to them. Our July 2020 article on the draw proved immensely popular. One can only imagine how much interest our next article on this topic will garner. IRCC has not invited FSWP candidates since December 2020, the largest spell in Express Entry's history.

11. Canada to target over 400,000 immigrants per year

In a year full of shocking announcements, even the Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023 announcement managed to catch the CIC News team by surprise. With little warning, IRCC announced Canada would be targeting the highest levels of immigration in its history, even in spite of the ongoing pandemic and border restrictions. Our article was shared nearly 54,000 times and provides context for the next two articles on this list.

10. Express Entry: Canada invites 27,332 immigration candidates in historic Saturday draw

The higher levels targets were the precursor for the most exceptional Express Entry draw ever. IRCC held a draw on a Saturday (as opposed to a weekday), invited 27,332 candidates (as opposed to the usual 3,000-4,000 candidates) and had the lowest cut-off score of all time. The CIC News team got out of bed and went to work, publishing the draw story within minutes of IRCC's announcement. The article was shared nearly 97,000 times and is our fifth most-read ever. The reason for the draw was IRCC wanted to invite as many candidates living in Canada as possible so they could gain permanent residence by the end of 2021, in support of its 401,000 immigration target for this year.

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9. Canada launching 6 new immigration programs for international graduates, essential workers and French speakers

For the same reason as the February 13, 2021 draw, IRCC announced in April 2021 the forthcoming launch of new immigration streams that would enable up to 90,000 essential workers and international graduates to apply for permanent residence. The announcement attracted the attention of over 400,00 readers, ranking among our top ten most-read articles ever, and the article was shared 56,000 times.

8. Special Edition: Canadian Government Budget Slashes Immigration Backlog

One of the most important stories we covered, a story which has ramifications until this very day, was in March 2012. In Budget 2012, the Canadian government announced it would cancel almost 300,000 Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) applications to reduce its application backlogs. The announcement came as a shock for several reasons. The FSWP has been the main way to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker since it was launched in 1967, but the Canadian government was signaling to the world it was unhappy with the program and would overhaul it. The overhaul was shocking to the some 300,000 people who had already submitted their applications, and in most cases, had been waiting patiently for several years for the Canadian government to process it. They either had to start from scratch, or discard their dream of moving to Canada altogether. This announcement marked the beginning of a dramatic transformation of the way federal and provincial governments manage applications. For instance, it was among the major reasons IRCC launched Express Entry, and most provinces have launched their own expression of interest systems.

7. Special Report: Government Overhauls Economic Immigration

A few months later, in August 2012, IRCC announced what its changes to the FSWP and other economic class programs. The announcements included the launch of the new Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the easing of work experience criteria for the Canadian Experience Class.

6. Breaking News: Federal Skilled Worker Details Revealed Today

In April 2013, IRCC shared details of its new intake window for the FSWP. To help manage applications better and avoid backlogs, IRCC stated it would begin to accept a limited number of applications on May 4, 2013. Our article on the announcement was unsurprisingly popular given that so many of our readers saw the FSWP as their best shot of immigrating to Canada.

5. Breaking News: Re-Opening of Federal Skilled Worker Program

Our April 2014 piece on the re-opening of the FSWP is easily CIC News' most popular article of all time. The article garnered almost 1.8 million readers and over 160,000 shares. Again, interest for this topic was a function of the Canadian government closing and opening FSWP intake windows to avoid accumulating the backlogs that had plagued the immigration system.

4. Canada Launches Express Entry Immigration Selection System

CIC News greeted the official launch of Express Entry on New Years Day 2015 with an article reminding readers that they could throw their hats in the ring so to speak. Upon the launch of Express Entry, candidates could upload their profiles on IRCC's website to earn consideration for permanent residence.

Express Entry remains the main way for skilled workers to immigrate to Canada and is by far the most popular topic among CIC News' readership.

3. New Comprehensive Ranking System for Express Entry

Express Entry was criticized in much of its first two years of existence for placing too much of a premium of job offers and not enough on Canadian experience. In response to such feedback, IRCC unveiled significant reforms to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) in November 2016. 

2. Express Entry: First Invitations to Apply for Canadian Immigration Issued

The first Express Entry draw took place on January 31, 2015 with 779 candidates receiving invitations to apply for permanent residence. CIC News was slow out of the gate, reporting the story two days later on Monday February 2nd, however we could be forgiven since draws in the early days of Express Entry's existence took place on Saturdays. Following feedback from the immigration community, IRCC agreed to move the draws to weekdays to give candidates more time to submit their permanent residence applications. CIC News has since made it a habit of announcing new draws within minutes of them taking place.

1. David Cohen: A Tribute to a Canadian Immigration Icon

Unfortunately our founder David Cohen is no longer with us to celebrate CIC News' 25th anniversary. A remarkable man, CIC News paid tribute to him shortly after his passing in May of this year. The outpouring of condolences that we have received since his passing has offered some comfort as we lick our wounds and continue David's legacy.

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