The year 2013 witnessed many changes in Canadian immigration policy with the government’s apparent goal of attracting skilled workers while implementing policies that are good for all Canadians.
Changes to Immigration programs:
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) experienced many changes throughout 2013. Stricter rules have been implemented regarding Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to ensure that there is no Canadian citizen available to perform the job the employer is seeking to fill. The reasons that current Canadians may not be able to fill certain positions may include lack of specific skills or lack of desire to relocate to different parts of Canada. For this reason, employers experiencing labour shortages will often turn to the TFWP. However, under media scrutiny, it was found that some businesses were using foreign workers in positions that could have been held by Canadians. As a result, the following changes were made to the program:
- New enforcement mechanisms;
- The discontinuation of the Accelerated LMO processing stream;
- The discontinuation of the two minimum wage variations;
- New processing fee for LMO applications;
- Stricter and more complex LMO requirements, and;
- Limitation on employers regarding recruitment on the basis of language proficiency, besides English and French.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) immigration stream also experienced some changes during the past year. This program allows individuals who have worked or studied in Canada for a certain amount of time to apply for permanent residence. The CEC has been quite successful, as individuals who have previously worked or studied in Canada have knowledge of the language and have already been able to create a network of acquaintances in the country. Changes to the program include:
- Applicants are allowed to apply sooner;
- New language proficiency requirements, and;
- Increased cap on applicants to be accepted next year.
Additionally, changes have been proposed concerning the age of a “dependent child.” Previously, the dependant age in Canada was under 22. In the past year, the Ministry of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) has changes it to 19. What exactly does this mean? before 2013, families immigrating to Canada could include their children under the age of 22 in the same application. Now, if a person is 19 years of age or older, they will have to make a separate application to immigrate to Canada. Many have opposed the decision, as it may force some families to choose whether to immigrate, and in doing do so, to leave their older children behind.
Finally, CIC has introduced a new program to encourage entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Canada. The Start-Up Visa made a splash this past year with bill-boards advertising the program in the Silicon Valley, where many bright people are experiencing difficulties in obtaining US citizenship or permanent residency. The hope of this new program is to show many innovative minds the opportunities of coming to Canada.
Overall, the current government is very much trying to ensure skilled immigrants and individuals who will better the Canadian economy are coming to Canada.