This week, the Government of Canada made several announcements that affect the country's immigration policies. These announcements pertain to:
1. 2017 immigration levels plan released
The Government of Canada intends to admit between 280,000 and 305,000 (target is 300,000) new immigrants to Canada in 2017, which is the same as the revised target for 2016. Although the total number of new immigrants to Canada in 2017 will remain unchanged, the composition has been adjusted to favour economic immigrants. Between 151,200 and 162,400 immigrants will be chosen from the federal economic immigration programs (i.e. the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project). This is an increase of 11,900 or 7% over 2016.
We anticipate that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will increase the number of invitations to apply issued under the Express Entry System to achieve its target number of new economic immigrants in 2017. Therefore, foreign nationals who wish to apply for Canadian permanent residence under a federal economic immigration program should have a greater chance of receiving an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Accordingly, now is a good time for companies to encourage, and consider supporting, their foreign workers to transition to permanent residents.
2. Proposed changes to maximum age of dependent children
Proposed regulations to increase the maximum age of dependent children from 19 years of age to 22 years of age, as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), have been released. If approved, it is anticipated that these regulatory changes will come into force in late 2017.
Dependent children may be included in an application for Canadian permanent residence and the age of a dependent is locked in at the time when the permanent residence application is received by IRCC. Section 2 of the IRPR currently limits the definition of "dependent child" to persons less than 19 years of age who are not spouses or common-law partners, or those over 19 years of age who have depended substantially on parental financial support and are unable to become financially self-sufficient due to a physical or mental condition. However, IRCC is proposing to increase the upper age limit of a dependent child to 22 years of age.
This proposed amendment to the definition of "dependent child" should be welcomed by foreign nationals and temporary foreign workers wanting to include their older dependent children in their application for Canadian permanent residence.
3. Proposed changes to conditional permanent residence
This week the Government of Canada also released proposed regulations to repeal conditional permanent residence for sponsored spouses and their accompanying family members. If approved, it is anticipated that these regulatory changes will come into force in the spring of 2017.
Section 72.1(1) of IRPR specifies that sponsored spouses or partners must cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsoring spouse or partner for a continuous period of two years following the day on which they became a permanent resident, and applies to spouses or partners who, at the time of application, had been in a relationship for two years or less and have no children in common. A failure to meet this two-year cohabitation period can result in the revocation of the sponsored spouse or partner's permanent resident status. However, IRCC is proposing to repeal this condition.
This proposed repeal will apply to new sponsorship applicants and retroactively to those who have a sponsorship application in process and who are currently subject to the cohabitation requirement.
4. Revised National Occupational Classification Codes
Employment and Social Development Canada (Service Canada) has revised its National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes to incorporate emerging occupations and new job titles (among other things).
Service Canada has not added, removed, or combined any new major groups, minor groups, or unit groups. However, some groups have new names and / or updated content, such as job titles, lead statements, and main duties.
The revisions to the NOC Codes should not adversely impact any foreign workers whose NOC Code classification has changed as a result of these updates. However, employers should be mindful of the new NOC Codes when identifying the appropriate NOC Codes for positions going forward.
For more information regarding any of these developments, please contact a member of our team.