March 4, 2014

A Summary of Recent Changes to Canadian Immigration

Posted by Mario Bellissimo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

In recent months Citizenship and Immigration Canada has introduced a number of regulatory changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  Many of these changes have already come into effect this year. Below is a summary of how several popular immigration programs have been affected. To learn more, contact us to find out how these changes affect you!

On January 2, 2014 the Parent and Grandparent Program reopened after a 2 year hiatus.  Changes to the program include an annual cap of 5,000 applications which will be considered each year.  On February 3, 2014 the Minister announced that the Parent and Grandparent Program had reached its cap for 2014.  The program will reopen to new applications in January of 2015. An available alternative is the Super Visa.

Changes to the Temporary Resident Visa Program are effective as of February 6, 2014. Visitors who require a visa to enter Canada will now automatically be considered for a multiple-entry visa. This visa allows a temporary resident to leave and re-enter Canada for 6 months at a time over a period of up to 10 years.  The changes apply to any new temporary resident visa application including visitor’s visas, work permits and study permits.

On February 12, 2014, new changes were announced to Study Permits for International Students.  Starting June 1, 2014 visitors to Canada will be able to apply for a study permit from within Canada. Study permits will only be issued to international students enrolled at designated educational institutions.  There will be a grace period of up to 3 years for International students enrolled at non-designated schools to complete their programs.  There is to be increased access to part-time work permits for students pursuing studies in Canada. An international student will be able to remain in Canada for only 90 days after their studies are completed, unless the student has applied for a separate work permit or temporary resident visa.

Changes to the Canadian Experience Class now involve an annual cap of 12,000 applications to be considered from November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014. Occupation types will also be subject to sub-caps limiting certain skilled occupations to only 200 applications per year. There are 6 occupation types that are no longer eligible to apply to the CEC under the changes.

Changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program affect applications submitted anytime between May 4, 2013 and April 30, 2014.  To be eligible an applicant must meet the minimum language, education, and financial requirements. There is a cap of 5,000 applications per year. Up to 1,000 applications will be considered in the PhD stream. For the other 24 occupation types there is now a sub-cap of 300 applications each.  Many of these of these categories have already reached their annual quota, and others are filling up quickly!  An applicant with a valid job offer and Labour Market Opinion can be considered outside of this cap system.

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program is under on-going review with the most recent changes announced on February 11, 2014. There will be an increased focus on Labour Market Opinion that limits the use of Temporary Foreign Workers in “high unemployment regions”. Measures to help identify vulnerable workers have been introduced, as well as measures to better enforce employer compliance to the terms of the program.

The Federal Immigrant Investor Program and the Federal Entrepreneur Program are to be terminated as a part of the Economic Action Plan of 2014. These changes were announced on February 11, 2014. The large backlog of existing applications for these two programs will also be eliminated retroactively.

The possible introduction of an Expression of Interest based system was announced in January 2014. This would work as a second stage in the approval process for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience Class, Business Class, and the Provincial Nominee Program. The first stage is eligibility; the second stage is availability of interested employers. The Expression of Interest system is set to commence in January 2015.

Mario D. Bellissimo has commented extensively on these and other changes in his role as Chair of the National Immigration Section of the Canadian Bar Association. To find out more about these recent changes and how they affect you, contact us today!