A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian. These are among the
many words that Canada's new Prime Minister designate Justin
Trudeau echoed during his victory speech, distinguishing himself
from the policies of the departing conservative government. He was
of course referring to the two tiered citizenship status created by
the conservatives which passed the highly controversial Bill C-24
this past summer, known as the Strengthening Canada Act. It is a
near certainty that many provisions of this law, which critics
assert violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, will be
repealed. But with the exception of this, Syrian refugees and
perhaps a few other issues, Canada's immigration policies under
the centrist liberals will unlikely take on a much different
direction than previously. However it is the tone towards its
immigrant communities that is sure to undergo transformation. Here
are some of the changes we can expect and what the new government
Annual Immigration Levels
The government normally tables Canada's projected annual
immigration levels each November. The levels for 2015 range between
260,000-285,000, the highest in 5 years. Expect 2016 levels to be
marginally higher to accommodate the increased numbers under family
class and refugees from Syria which the Liberals promised during
the election campaign.
Recent changes to the Citizenship Act make it much harder for
permanent residents to obtain Canadian citizenship. Now, fewer will
succeed in becoming citizens. Applicants will continue to wait 4
years to qualify for citizenship but older applicants will likely
face a tempering of the difficult knowledge based language tests to
qualify. Expect the repeal of certain provisions affecting dual
citizens, including those born in Canada who under the new rules
can have their Canadian citizenship rescinded.
The Liberal Party will make family reunification marginally
easier for new immigrants. Expect a doubling of the number of
parents and grandparents admitted under the Canadian parents and
grandparents program (PGP) that are granted permanent residency
each year to 10,000. Current quotas are 5,000 per year. However
judging from previous submission periods, the expanded program will
quickly open and close in less than a week.
The Liberals also promised to double the budget for processing
applications under the (PGP) program, which should significantly
reduce the multi-year wait times that most immigration applicants
are currently incurring. Additionally, there are expectations that
spouses of immigrants will be granted permanent resident status as
soon as they arrive in Canada. Under existing rules, spouses
receive conditional visas and must wait two years before
transitioning to Canadian permanent residence. The new government
also pledged to raise the maximum age for dependents of immigrants
from 19 to 22, reverting back to the previous criteria and making
it easier for the older children of immigrants, many who are
already working in Canada to join their parents in Canada as
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The content of this article reflects the personal insight of
Attorney Colin Singer and needs no disclaimer.
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