Canada: Top Canadian Immigration Changes in 2017

There has been no shortage of hot-button immigration issues in 2017. We have compiled a list of the top immigration changes that have changed the landscape of Canadian immigration:

1. Changes to Canadian citizenship: adoption of Bill C-6

The long-anticipated Bill C-6 amendments to the Citizenship Act  finally received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, and later came into full force on October 11, 2017. Since then, permanent residents of Canada can apply for citizenship with only three years of physical presence in Canada during the last five. Before the amendments, permanent residents were required to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship. 

Other changes include the government no longer being able to revoke citizenship from dual citizens convicted of treason, spying, and terrorism offences. Click here for further information about the amendments.

2. Bridging Canada to the EU: The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement ("CETA")

After decades of planning, this new free trade agreement came into force on September 21, 2017. The main purpose of CETA is to create better, faster access to markets in Canada and countries in the European Union. The agreement radically reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers, in addition to simplifying procedures governing the processing of goods, services, and labour.

CETA carves out new provisions that that allow temporary movement of Canadians and Europeans workers, investors and business visitors. You can find further information about CETA and how it can be used here.

3. The definition of "dependent child" increased from 18 to 21 years of age

The new definition became effective on October 24, 2017 and has wide reaching implications for families interested in immigrating to Canada. Transitional provisions also exist, which may allow the adding of dependent children to applications submitted before the new definitions came into effect. Click here for more information or contact Green and Spiegel for a consultation to determine how the change may impact you. 

4. The Express Entry System

How points are allocated under the Express Entry system changed on June 6, 2017. The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that French speaking candidates under the Express Entry system may be eligible to receive additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points. Candidates with siblings 18 years of age or older living in Canada as citizens or permanent residents are also entitled to additional CRS points.

It is noteworthy that the minimum CRS score needed to receive an Invitation to Apply for Canadian permanent residence under the Express Entry system fluctuated considerably throughout 2017. In the spring, applicants with a CRS score as low as 413 CRS points received Invitations to Apply for Permanent Residence, while most recently, the minimum score required was 446 CRS points.

Further information about the Express Entry changes can be found here. If you would like to know about how they may affect your chances of being selected under Express Entry, or are looking for an assessment of your eligibility for permanent residence, we encourage you to contact  Green and Spiegel for a consultation. 

5. Canadian businesses now have quicker, more direct access to foreign workers: The Global Skills Strategy

The Global Skills Strategy pilot program came into effect on June 12, 2017 and opens Canada's doors to the next brain gain of highly skilled, specialized, in-demand foreign workers. This two-year pilot offers Canadian businesses expedited access to unique, specialized and highly-skilled temporary foreign workers.

One of the main pathways for this brain gain is facilitating the faster and timely entry of skilled foreign workers for short-term Canadian positions. Skilled workers coming to Canada for less than 30 days are now exempt from the requirement of first obtaining a work permit. In the past, if any foreign worker entered the Canadian labour market, even for one day, they required work authorization. Now, if a worker is coming to perform work for 30 days or less and their occupation is classified as "highly skilled" or "managerial", they are eligible to work without a work permit.

Another pathway that has assisted Canadian businesses is the Global Talent Stream, which allows Canadian firms to scale-up their highly-skilled work force with global talent. Innovative, high-potential, high-growth firms are given tools under the Global Skills Strategy to scale-up and grow, in addition to Canadian firms seeking to hire highly skilled foreign workers in in-demand occupations.

For additional information about the pilot program, click <<a target="_blank" class="force" href="/redirection.asp?article_id=661524&company_id=24152&redirectaddress=http%3A//">here.

6. Spouses or common-law partners will continue to be entitled to work while their applications for permanent residence und the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (SCLPC) class are processing

Just a few days ago, IRCC confirmed that the open work permit pilot program will be extended until at least January 31, 2019. This pilot program allows those persons who have applied for permanent residence as a spouse or common-law partner to work, provide for their families, and contribute to the Canadian economy while waiting for their applications to be processed.

To be eligible for an open work permit, you must be a spouse or common-law partner living in Canada who is being sponsored under the SCLPC class. You must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student, or worker) and live at the same address as your sponsor.

The notice from IRCC regarding the pilot program can be found here.

7. Processing changes for the Parent and Grandparent Program

In late 2016, IRCC announced that the processing of applications under the Parent and Grandparent Program would be different in 2017. Indeed, for the first time, those interested in sponsoring their parents or grandparents completed online expressions of interest this year and over 95,000 were submitted. In the late spring and again, subsequently, in early fall of 2017, IRCC randomly invited 10,000 of those individuals to submit applications to sponsor their parents and grandparents within 90 days of receiving the invitation.

The program has re-opened again for 2018 (click here for more information). Canadian citizens and permanent residents can take the first step in applying to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada: submit the "Interest to Sponsor" form available from January 2, 2018, until February 1, 2018.

For more information regarding the Sponsorship of Parents and Grandparents Program, please  contact Green and Spiegel directly. 

8. Looking ahead: The Federal Government told us their plans for Canadian Immigration over the next three years

As of November 2, 2017, IRCC announced plans for significant increases in the total number of permanent residents to be admitted to Canada over the next three years in the 2017 Annual Report to Parliament.

Specifically, the report states that the 2017 target of 300,000 immigrants will gradually increase to 340,000 by 2020. Many categories are targeted to increase from 2017-2020 such as the Federal Business Category (up from 500 to 700), the Provincial Nominee Program (up from 51,000 to 67,800), and in the Humanitarian and other Category (up from 3,500 to 4,500).

Other targeted increases from 2017-2020 include the Federal High Skilled categories such as Skilled Worker Program, Skilled Trades Program and Canadian Experience Class (up from 73,700 to 85,800), along with the spouses, partners and dependent children category (up from 64,000 to 70,000).

If you would like any further information about the updates listed above, or you have any other questions regarding Canadian immigration, please do not hesitate to contact the team at  Green and Spiegel.

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