The top immigration developments of 2022
Canada’s immigration system saw many key developments in 2022, as the country dealt with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has continued to assess Canada’s economic and societal needs through immigration—yielding new and important developments changes this year, that may have great influence on the country’s immigration system in 2023.
Perhaps the most impactful announcement of the year was the immigration levels plan. On November 1st, IRCC announced its plan to welcome newcomers over the next three years. Canada will look to welcome over 1.45 million new immigrants between 2023 and 2025; through its economic, family, humanitarian, and refugee class streams.
In 2025. the annual number of new immigrants will rise to 500,000. The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are also set to overtake Express Entry as Canada’s main economic immigration pathway.
These are historic levels of immigration that have not been seen since the previous century. They also speak to the importance of immigration as a strategy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This July saw the return of all-program Express Entry draws for the first time since December of 2020—a turning point in COVID recovery for Canada.
The Express Entry system encompasses the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Together these programs welcome huge numbers of economic immigrants annually.
Starting November 15th, 2022, international students are temporarily able to work more than 20 hours a week during school sessions. This development marked a huge change from prior employment conditions for students, who previously had a ceiling of 20 hours a week in part time work, during academic semesters.
Now students can work an unlimited number of hours during academic semesters in part-time work off-campus, until December 31st, 2023. This change aimed to address historic labour shortages for Canada, especially in sectors that students regularly occupy (e.g: food services, retail, and hospitality sectors).
The main change change was an update shift to Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) codes; and the addition of As a result 16 newly eligible occupations were added to the Express Entry system, while . Three occupations were also removed from Express Entry eligibility from Express Entry eligibility because of the change.
This change has received further attention due to the unintended glitches that have followed NOC changes to IRCC systems, affecting some Express Entry candidates.
In early November, Immigration and Opportunities New Brunswick announced a new immigration pilot to welcome critical workers to the province. The program—named the New Brunswick Critical Worker Pilot (NBCWP)—was designed to address the specific labour needs of New Brunswick—and is noted for its focus on helping immigrants settle to the province.
The program is fulfilled by six select employers in industries including manufacturing, food production, farming, and aquaculture; chosen for their already existing immigrant settlement services. The NBCWP is part of a larger initiative from IRCC to welcome newcomers to wider parts of Canada that are in need of people.
In response to historic labour shortages and a growing class of retirees exiting the workforce, IRCC made an unprecedented policy change to maximize the potential workforce already in Canada: families of LMIA-based work permit holders would now be eligible to apply for Open Work Permits (OWP).
OWPs allow holders to work for any employer in most industries. Alternatively, LMIA-based work permits are tied to a single employer in a specific industry.
The new initiative is set to roll out in three separate phases, starting January 2023.
On June 23rd Bill C-19 was passed in both houses of parliament. The bill contains a provision that allows the immigration minister to create groups within the Express Entry pool, based on policy aims (like in-demand occupations), and issue invitations to apply (ITAs) to these groups.
The aim of this bill is to further leverage the Express Entry system to address Canadian labour market needs. While the policy change helps Canada better meet labour shortages, it represents a move from the current system of issuing ITAs, based on Comprehensive Ranking Scores (CRS).
Broad trends moving into 2023
It is possible that 2023 will be shaped by many of the important changes made in 2022. These themes include:
- Renewed efforts to welcome newcomers to wider parts of Canada.
The expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program, the NBCWP, and the strength of the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) support this idea. These are possible indicators that IRCC will seek to welcome newcomers to less populated provinces, where ageing populations have need of immigrants.
- A trend of targeting specific professions for immigration.
IRCC has already expressed its intent to pursue this strategy in 2023, amid record job vacancies. Canada has removed barriers to permanent residence for physicians—one of the most in-demand professions in recent years—likely a growing theme as IRCC looks to address specific labour needs through immigration.
- A continued move towards maximizing the potential workforce in Canada.
In the midst of persistent labour shortages, and continued over qualification of immigrants, IRCC has already made changes to this end. Among these are the new OWP eligibility for families of LMIA-based work permit holders, and new financial investment in immigrant accreditation for healthcare workers. These changes suggest Canada’s interest in better utilizing foreign talent already in the country.