Immigration minister discusses new PR pathway for temporary residents

Shelby Thevenot, Kareem El-Assal
Published: June 30, 2022

Details are still scant on the new immigration pathway for temporary residents, however, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser updated CIC News on the current policy considerations.

"The challenge that I'm wrestling with right now is that we have more people coming on a temporary basis than we may have spaces for in our immigration levels plan," Fraser said on June 21. "We might have half a million people here temporarily studying but we have 400,000 or so [permanent residence] spaces."

Fraser previously told CBC news the new program will not be identical to a similar program launched in 2021, the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) pathway. The TR2PR pathway was a one-time measure introduced to help Canada meet its immigration target amid border closures. The TR2PR pathway opened the door to allow 90,000 temporary residents working in Canada to become permanent residents. This measure was launched under the former minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino.

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Shortly after being appointed immigration minister, Fraser was mandated to "expand pathways to permanent residence for international students and temporary foreign workers.” As of May 11, the minister has 120 days to develop and release a strategy to achieve these goals, as dictated by a motion put forward by Randeep Sarai, the member of parliament for Surrey Centre, British Columbia.

"Over the next number of months we should be able to share some clarity as to what these pathways may look like and I'm really looking for it, because I think it's a huge opportunity for Canada," Fraser said.

The minister dismissed the idea that temporary residents would be awarded extra points through the Express Entry system. Express Entry is Canada's application management system for three of its main immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

"I worry about that because that doesn't necessarily give you the best and brightest under the Express Entry system, because we might be drawing from people who don't actually want to come," Fraser said.

However, the minister said there were other factors as well. He said one of the concerns being addressed is the fact that some temporary residents are refused their temporary permits because the immigration officer is not satisfied that the foreign national will leave at the end of their authorized stay. This creates a conundrum for people who want to study or work in Canada and eventually become permanent residents.

"They're told they can't come temporarily because people think they might want to stay permanently, when in fact we all want them to stay permanently," Fraser said.

Fraser has until September 9 to put forth a plan on the six points raised in the motion:

  • giving more weight to in-Canada work experience under economic immigration programs and expanding eligible occupational categories;
  • examining evidence from other federal immigration programs;
  • incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to base immigrant selection on persistent labour gaps;
  • encouraging immigrant retention in smaller communities and Francophone immigration outside Quebec;
  • identifying mechanisms to reach quicker to changes in labour market needs and regional economic priorities; and
  • specifically consider occupations and essential services such as health services, caregivers, agriculture, manufacturing, service, trades, and transportation.

For the time being, the minister says the program is still in the development phase.

"I don't want to project any final decisions on this because this is literally something we're in the conversation and policy development phase right now," Fraser said.

Special interview series with Minister Fraser

CIC News sat down with the minister on June 21, 2022.

Over the coming weeks, CIC News is releasing a special series of articles elaborating on the interview with Minister Fraser on topics including:

Correction notice: This story previously reported the deadline was September 8, when it is in fact September 9.

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