Throughout 2017, Canada has cemented its position of one of the most welcoming nations in the world for newcomers.
Indeed, as other nations, including the US, the UK, and Australia quickly move towards more isolationist, protectionist policies, Canada is now arguably the most welcoming destination of all. Canada is going out into the world to find workers, students, immigrants, and families who can make a positive contribution to the Canadian economy and society. The government’s new multi-year immigration plan shows that Canada has every intention of continuing this positive immigration policy over the coming years.
If you are looking to move to Canada, or are already here and want to settle permanently, this Canada immigration news review of 2017 will also set the scene for what promises to be a bright future for aspiring immigrants and new arrivals.
If you are not inclined to read it in full, you can simply skip to the relevant sections of our Canada immigration news review of 2017 which are of particular interest to you.
Canada’s main economic immigration system, Express Entry, went from strength to strength in 2017. Not only were more candidates invited to apply for permanent residence than ever before, but tweaks made to the system in late 2016 and June of this year have allowed a more diverse range of candidates to realize their dreams through Express Entry.
In total, 86,023 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) have been issued in 2017, dwarfing the figures for 2016 (33,782) and 2015 (31,063). This increase in ITAs was a major contributing factor in the decrease in the number of Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points required by candidates to receive an ITA.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the government department that oversees Express Entry, has invited certain Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) candidates with CRS scores as low as 199 in program-specific draws. Provincial nominees have also benefited from program-specific draws.
For Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates, the record low CRS threshold was 413, in a draw that took place in May. Before 2017, the record low CRS threshold was 450.
- Review statistics and trends for Express Entry draws.
Another contributing factor that has allowed more people to succeed has been the series of improvements made to Express Entry by IRCC. Just over a year ago, changes made to Express Entry by IRCC were designed to invite more candidates based on factors such as their education level, experience, and skills, with less emphasis on whether they had a job offer in Canada. At the same time, IRCC made it easier for foreign workers in Canada to obtain CRS points for a job offer even if they did not have a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Candidates who graduated in Canada also benefited from additional points following those changes.
IRCC made further changes to Express Entry in June, with the introduction of additional points for candidates with a sibling in Canada. Moreover, candidates with French ability are now also able to claim extra points as Canada looks to increase the number of French speakers moving to locations across the country.
- Moving2Canada has partnered with renowned French language learning company Frantastique to provide personalized lessons adapted to your needs. To begin earning more CRS points and obtain that all-important ITA, sign up for Frantastique. You can also work on your English skills through our partnership with Gymglish.
Over the coming years, Express Entry will continue to be the main driver of economic immigration to Canada. Speaking at the launch of the government’s immigration plan in November, Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen stated that “the number of skilled immigrants we select through the federal Express Entry System will grow over the next three years, which will mean that more highly skilled talent will be able to arrive in our country faster for our labour markets.”
Provincial Nominee Programs
The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are another area of growth in Canada’s economic immigration system. A target to settle around 55,000 new permanent residents has been set for 2018, slightly higher than the 2017 target. By 2020, the target will be 67,800 for the year.
Through the PNPs, Canadian provinces can identify and nominate people who demonstrate the ability to settle into the local labour market. Throughout 2017, provinces from coast to coast expanded and diversified their immigration programs.
An important component of the PNPs is how provinces can align a portion of their programs with Express Entry, thus allowing candidates to improve their ranking and expedite their immigration to Canada.
Perhaps the most active province over the course of the year has been Ontario. There are now three Express Entry-aligned streams within the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), with the Human Capital Priorities stream proving particularly popular. Other streams for candidates with French ability and candidates with trades experience in Ontario are also available.
Under a strategy rolled out in June, the OINP’s removed one of the requirements for Human Capital Priorities stream, namely the requirement for candidates to have at least 400 CRS points. This exception was only for candidates with experience in one of 15 specific IT occupations. Later in the year it was revealed that IT workers made up the majority of OINP nominees this year.
British Columbia (BC) has also been looking for international talent to enter its IT/tech sector. BC launched a tech pilot program in August. Through this pilot, workers in any of 32 listed eligible occupations may be eligible to immigrate under the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP). Apart from focusing on the tech sector, the BC PNP has also continued to invite a broad range of workers, graduates, and entrepreneurs to make BC their permanent home.
Saskatchewan has also been welcoming applications under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). The popular SINP International Skilled Worker: Express Entry category has opened for new applications on five occasions in 2017, and the Occupations In-Demand category (not aligned with Express Entry) has opened three times. An expanded eligible occupations list was unveiled during the summer, allowing more people the opportunity to immigrate under the SINP. The new list includes occupations in business, sciences, agriculture, engineering, trades, IT, and health care.
Staying out west, Alberta recently announced that following a successful year during which all 5,500 nominations were issued, it would soon be launching two new streams, namely the Opportunity stream and an Express Entry stream, to replace most of the existing options under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP).
Other provinces, including the Atlantic provinces, have also been active throughout the year, bringing in newcomers through a wide variety of PNP streams.