Canada issues new priorities for immigration system

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Canada should reduce processing time for immigration applications and focus on expanding permanent residency opportunities for international students, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said in a letter to Canada’s new immigration minister Sean Fraser.

Trudeau laid out the federal government’s priorities in a mandate letter written to Fraser on December 16. Fraser took office as the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Trudeau’s cabinet on October 26.

In the letter, Trudeau has outlined 13 measures that the immigration department is meant to focus on. They cover varied objectives, from increasing the immigration quota for refugees to addressing delays in the system due to Covid-19. Strengthening of family reunification programs and welcoming skilled workers to high-demand sectors like medical fields find a mention too.

These guidelines are expected to drive the changes to the immigration processes in the upcoming days at both federal and provincial levels.

For instance, Trudeau has directed the immigration minister to continue the policies in place to boost the integration of immigrants in the French-majority province of Quebec by “complementing existing measures, and continue to implement an ambitious national strategy to support Francophone immigration across the country”.

Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) wing of the federal government had announced a increase in the points given to French-speaking candidates aiming to immigrate to Canada. The move is meant to provide a boost to Canada’s goal of increasing French immigration outside of Quebec to 4.4% by 2023, according to immigration watch-dog CIC News.

Here is a full list of instructions issued by Trudeau.

Continue to bring newcomers to Canada to drive economic growth and recovery, as set out in the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
Expand the new immigration stream for human rights defenders and work with civil society groups to provide resettlement opportunities for people under threat.
With the support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, continue to facilitate the safe passage and resettlement of vulnerable people from Afghanistan, with an emphasis on individuals who supported Canada and our allies over the past two decades, women, LGBTQ2 people, human rights defenders, journalists and members of religious and ethnic minorities and increase the number of eligible refugees from 20,000 to at least 40,000.
Reduce application processing times, including to address delays that have been impacted by Covid-19.
Work to strengthen family reunification by introducing electronic applications for family reunification and implementing a program to issue temporary resident status to spouses and children abroad while they wait for the processing of their permanent residency application.
Make the citizenship application process free for permanent residents who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it.
With the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, establish a Trusted Employer system for Canadian companies hiring temporary foreign workers and, as part of improving the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, simplify permit renewals, uphold the two-week processing time and establish an employer hotline. Continue to work with provinces, territories and regulatory bodies to improve foreign credential recognition.
Build on existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularising status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.
Continue working with Quebec to support the French-language knowledge of immigrants in Quebec, respecting provincial jurisdiction and complementing existing measures, and continue to implement an ambitious national strategy to support Francophone immigration across the country.
Lead the government’s work on irregular migration, including continued work with the United States to modernise the Safe Third Country Agreement.
Expand pathways to Permanent Residence for international students and temporary foreign workers through the Express Entry system. With respect to pathways for agricultural temporary foreign workers, you will be supported in this work by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Building on the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, work with employers and communities across Canada to welcome 2,000 skilled refugees to fill labour shortages in high-demand sectors such as health care.
Ensure that immigration better supports small- and medium-size communities that require additional immigrants to enhance their economic growth and social vibrancy. This will include expanding the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, moving forward on the Municipal Nominee Program and making the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot a permanent program.

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