Immigration Minister declares intention to have more in-Canada immigration draws

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: March 23, 2024

On Thursday March 21st, Immigration Minister Marc Miller declared his intention to pursue more “domestic draws” for temporary residents already in Canada who are candidates for permanent residence (PR).

"Draws" reference PR selection rounds through pathways like Express Entry managed programs, wherein candidates from a pool are chosen based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores—or for specific professional experience or French language ability—and issued invitations to apply (ITAs) for PR.

The Minister’s comments came as part of an expansive announcement on managing temporary resident levels in Canada to help ease pressures on the country’s critical support sectors (like housing, healthcare, and others). Temporary residents are defined as those living or working in Canada on a non-permanent basis including foreign nationals on a work or study permit who reside in Canada.

“As part of our efforts for temporary residents to transition to permanent residency, we will have more domestic draws for us (the federal government) and ask provinces and territories taking part in the Provincial Nominee Program to do the same with their allocations,” Miller said.

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What does this mean for newcomers already in Canada?

For those who are in Canada on a work or study permit, Miller’s comments indicate a potential shift toward targeting more permanent resident candidates already in the country. At this time, it should be noted that it is very difficult to predict how exactly Miller's comments will translate to policy.

Such a move is not unprecedented for Canada’s immigration system, which has sometimes rewarded candidates who were already in the country.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held the largest Express Entry draw in its history—issuing 27,332 invitations to apply (ITAs) to Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates with a CRS score of 75. This is considerably lower than the average CRS scores for Express Entry draws.

The CEC is one of the Express Entry-managed programs, and is Canada's dedicated federal pathway for immigration candidates who have already made in-roads into the country's labour market and society.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are another example of immigration pathways that often target individuals who have begun integrating into Canadian life. These streams are managed primarily by provincial and territorial governments who often invite candidates residing in their jurisdiction.

As the Immigration Minister is quoted as saying at the start of the article, Miller intends the planned shift towards more domestic draws to work through both federal and provincial pathways, at the time of his comment.

Why did the Immigration Minister make these comments?

By potentially increasing the number of opportunities that temporary residents within Canada have of receiving PR, Miller is hoping to choose candidates that more reliably have better immigration outcomes in Canada. There is a rich body of literature to suggest that pre-immigration Canadian experience is one of the best predictors of better outcomes in Canada.

At the same time, this allows the department to meet their immigration targets (highlighted within the immigration levels plan) without adding “a new entrant to the economy,” which could further add to pressures already felt in Canada, in housing, healthcare, and other key support sectors.

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