Canada Express Entry Starts

January 2, 2015

The Canadian Government is switching to an express entry system for skilled workers from January 2015 in a sweeping alteration to the system which has been in place for a number of years. However, this is not the only change that the federal government is bringing about for 2015. Today, we look at the other changes to the immigration regulations which any would-be migrant to the country ought to know about. These changes will affect people from all over the world who are considering living and working in Canada, a country which last year accepted a record number of immigrants. According to the federal government's own statisticians, Canada took on some 260,000 migrants in the calendar year of 2014 – more than any other year in the country's history. 

According to Chris Alexander, Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, the total number of new citizens in the country more than doubled over the course of the last twelve months as a direct result of changes to the country's Citizenship Act. Time will only tell how the changes – many of which will take effect from the start of January – will impact on the numbers of immigrants, however experts in the field think that overall that numbers are likely to decline. This is because the eligibility requirements are now likely to be higher in many immigration categories meaning that fewer unskilled workers and people without professional qualifications are likely to be accepted. “Even though there has been a greater number of people who have been granted citizenship in 2014, as the new regulations come in to force eligibility will decline,” said one Ottawa-based immigration lawyer. Having said that, new routes to Canadian citizenship are opening up and not all of them are based on professional skills and work-related qualifications.

Expanded and Reopened Visa Programmes

One area that would-be immigrants to Canada should know about is that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) – the department which handles the immigration regulations – has announced the reopening of a family-based route to citizenship. The previously defunct Parent and Grandparent Programme (PGP) will begin operating once more in January 2015. This programme affords the right of Canadian citizens and other permanent residents in the country to sponsor the immigration of their parents and grandparents from overseas. This means that they will be able to become permanent residents in the country despite being foreign-born. According to CIC, the new version on PGP will be capped at a total of 5,000 applications which can be accepted in a given year – a figure that is roughly the same number as the previous programme.

Under the previous scheme which dealt with family immigration like this, the cap was reached in only a matter of three weeks, leading many to think that the same thing will happen in the coming year. CIC has already stated that applications for the programme which are received prior to January 2 will be deemed unacceptable and returned. Those received after that date will be processed but anyone waiting beyond a week or so will – it is expected – be too late, given the projected popularity of the programme. PGP is open to people over the age of 18 who want to bring parents or grandparents to the country but they must exceed the necessary minimum income level set by the authorities.

In other changes which will take place in January, the Province of Ontario – which is the most populous in the country – plans to introduce its own immigration legislation. The new legal regulations will help Ontario to attract the skilled workers that it wants to attract whilst still complying fully with the federal government. The provincial law, which is seen by many Canadians as a precursor alteration to its Provincial Nominee Programme, will allow greater freedom for the selection and admission of migrants in certain skilled professions. According to Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and International Trade, the law will “recognise the value of the province's diverse workforce” and take advantage of the fact that Ontario boasts an economy that is more globally connected than many others in North America. In a similar change, the Province of Saskatchewan has already negotiated an increase of some 16 per cent in the numbers of immigrants it will be able to accept under its quota of nominees, such is the demand for skilled workers in that part of the country. Nova Scotia is another province which has said it needs more numbers in its quota of express entry nominees in 2015, with similar calls for an increase by some in Alberta, too.

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