Changes to Canadian Immigration System 2012-2013
Cracking down on fraud, increasing refugee numbers, increasing family reunification, and ensuring skilled workers success – some of the new priorities under the new legislation for Canadian Immigration law, regulations & policies. With the advent of the new Refugee Protection Division, we now have a completely new, faster and much improved process for refugees wishing to seek Canada as their “safe haven”, as denoted in the Gazette and published in the 2012 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration:
Message from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
I am pleased to present the 2012 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.Canada’s rich economic and cultural wealth is the envy of much of the world. Our diverse wealth is due, in part, to the tremendous contributions of immigrants and their descendants who helped to build our enviably prosperous country. Immigration is an integral part of Canada’s economic success.Accordingly, in the coming year of 2013, we will maintain—for the seventh consecutive year—the overall admissions range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents. This is the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history, and this level supports our economic immigration objectives, family reunification goals, and humanitarian obligations.Canada has a longstanding tradition of welcoming newcomers, but in order to maintain our tradition of openness and generosity, we must ensure that our immigration system functions so as to best support our national interests. Immigration must meet our national economic, cultural and social needs in a highly effective manner. Our immigration system must also employ fair rules and ensure their consistent application. Over the past year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has continued to focus on meeting these objectives.It is essential that Canada positions itself as a serious competitor for global talent, so that we can address labour market shortages and strengthen economic growth. To that end, our goal is to create a fast, flexible economic immigration program. The Economic Action Plan 2012 allowed for a new, modernized Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program by eliminating the old application backlog that was characterized by wait times of more than seven years. This backlog initiative allows us to manage and prioritize applications more effectively, enhances our ability to update and apply regulations to new and existing applications, and enables our ability to implement rapid new, short-term economic programs.
Moreover, proposed reforms to the points system for the FSW Program will allow newcomers to “hit the ground running,” as we target younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and greater proficiency in an official language. In addition, federal skilled workers will have their foreign education credentials assessed for Canadian equivalency before they apply to immigrate to Canada, to prevent delays in their entry into the Canadian job market. Finally, a new skilled trades stream will encourage immigration of skilled tradespersons so they can fill current labour market shortages. These major reforms will ensure federal skilled workers can better integrate into the Canadian job market and Canadian society.
CIC is also exploring a new application management system based on the expression of interest model currently in use in New Zealand and Australia. This new system would enhance Canada’s control over the type and number of skilled worker applications that we accept for processing.
Work is also underway to redesign the Federal Business Immigration Program. A redesigned Business Program will target more active investment in Canadian growth companies as well as entrepreneurs—both of which will transform Canada’s economy.
The Department also launched the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification to address the growing backlog and wait times in the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP). The Action Plan increased admissions of sponsored parents and grandparents to 25,000 in 2012—the highest level in nearly two decades—as a means to reduce the existing backlog. It also introduced a temporary pause on the intake of new sponsorship applications. Finally, the Action Plan included the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to visit Canada for extended stays.
This past year, CIC continued to combat fraud to protect the integrity of our immigration system. We cracked down on marriages of convenience, or marriage fraud, by barring newly sponsored spouses from sponsoring another spouse of their own for five years. We also introduced a new two-year period of conditional permanent residency for sponsored spouses. These changes will deter individuals from entering into relationships of convenience to circumvent Canada’s immigration laws. Also, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act closes loopholes that enable convicted foreign criminals to delay their deportation from Canada.
The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act—which received Royal Assent in June 2012—will deliver faster decisions on refugee claims, combat human smuggling, and allow for the collection of biometric data from visa applicants. At the same time, Canada continued to uphold its international obligations to protect bona fide refugees both in Canada and abroad. In fact, Canada already resettles 1 in 10 refugees, but is further increasing our intake of resettled refugees by 20 percent.
Finally, CIC seeks to implement key initiatives under the Canada–U.S. Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. For example, an Electronic Travel Authorization system will improve the screening of visa–exempt foreign nationals. We will also enhance information–sharing with the United States, improve immigration and border determinations, and conduct screening at the earliest possible opportunity.
This past year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada initiated a series of transformational changes that enhance Canada’s immigration system and allow us to keep pace with our country’s evolving needs. We have made tremendous progress and will continue to build on our achievements in the years to come.
I wish to thank the employees at Citizenship and Immigration Canada for their hard work and success in endeavouring to make Canada’s immigration system the best in the world.
The Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, MP Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
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