March 28, 2016

Goodbye CIC, Hello IRCC: Winds of Change In Immigration Law and Policy

Posted by Mario Bellissimo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Rebranded, repositioned and renamed – welcome Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and say goodbye to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to the new Minister, the Honourable John McCallum, directed a number of serious changes including:

  • Lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.
  • As part of the Annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2016, bring forward a proposal to double the number of entry applications for parents and grandparents of immigrants to 10,000 a year.
  • Give additional points under the Entry Express system to provide more opportunities for applicants who have Canadian siblings.
  • Increase the maximum age for dependents to 22, from 19, to allow more Canadians to bring their children to Canada.
  • Bring forward a proposal regarding permanent residency for new spouses entering Canada.
  • Develop a plan to reduce application processing times for sponsorship, citizenship and other visas.
  • Fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants.
  • Establish an expert human rights panel to help determine designated countries of origin, and provide a right to appeal refugee decisions for citizens from these countries.
  • Modify the temporary foreign workers program to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers and work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families.
  • Lead efforts to facilitate the temporary entry of low risk travelers, including business visitors, and lift the visa requirement for Mexico.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.
  • Eliminate regulations that remove the credit given to international students for half of the time that they spend in Canada and regulations that require new citizens to sign a declaration that they intend to reside in Canada.

Minister McCallum spoke to the new Government’s first Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration and said “It outlines a significant shift in immigration policy toward reuniting more families, building our economy and upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition to resettle refugees and offer protection to those in need.” The numbers reflect the mandate letter and policy intent.  There will be a 125% increase in refugee settlement in 2016 from 2015, an 18% increase in family class categories, a 13% decrease in economic migration streams and an overall target increase of 7.5% to 300,000 permanent residents in 2016 from 279,200 in 2015. If achieved this would be the highest number of permanent residents since 1913. The changes focus on a number of changes to varied areas of citizenship, immigration and refugee law.  IRCC cannot embark on this journey alone. It requires the cooperation, vision and assets of various stakeholders. It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds in the months and years to come.