Minister McCallum's Mandate
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, has received his public Mandate Letter from Prime Minister Trudeau. In a noticeable change from previous governments, the new Trudeau Cabinet has its marching orders up on the internet, for all to see. What are possible changes in immigration policy as indicated by McCallum’s Mandate Letter?
- Refugees: As we covered recently, a goal of accepting and resettling 25,000 refugees from Syria has been established.
- Parental Sponsorship: Double the number of grandparents and parents resettled in Canada each year to 10,000. This has sparked calls for additional health care funds to provide the necessary coverage that older immigrants will invariably need.
- Skilled Workers: Allow Express Entry to allocate additional points to applicants who have siblings living and working in Canada. For example, if one looks at the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), in CRS – B Spouse or Common Law Partner Factors:It is doubtful that a substantial number of points will end up being awarded for having a sibling in Canada. But, in a competitive applicant’s pool, having, for example, an extra 20 or 30 points added to your CRS ranking can make the difference between getting an invitation to apply versus not being selected from your pool. This will be one to watch.
- The Spouse’s level of education can contribute up to 10 points,
- The Spouse’s official language abilities can contribute up to 20 points,
- This gives a total of 30 points.
- Dependents: Raise the maximum age for dependents back up to 22 years of age. For families with older children, this will be very helpful.
- Spousal Sponsorship: Bringing forward a proposal to give new spouses permanent residence seems to suggest they will be dismantling the conditionality requirements that currently apply to marriages less than 2 years old, with no children in common. Again, we will have to see more detail on how and on what timeline the new Minister will be have for this area of immigration policy.
- Refugees: Restoring the Interim Federal Health Program that used to provide health benefits to refugees will require additional funding. Details will have to be worked out.
- Refugees: Convening a panel of human rights experts to reform the list of designated countries of origin. These are countries that are deemed to respect human rights and offer state protection. In other words, if you are claiming to be a refugee suffering persecution and you are from a designated country of origin, then your claim will be much harder to make. Currently there is some controversy over countries like Mexico that are on the list.
- Visas: Eliminate visa requirements for citizens of Mexico and facilitate temporary entry for low risk travelers, as well as business visitors.
- Live-in Caregivers: Eliminate the $1,000 LMIA fee for caregivers and work to regulate those companies that hire caregivers on behalf of families.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC): Eliminate regulations that only give international students credit for half the time spent in Canada. This should be a boost to Canadian Experience Class immigrants.
- Permanent Residence: Eliminate regulations that require new immigrants to sign a declaration of intent to reside in Canada. This might change similar requirements in various provincial nominee programs.
- Citizenship: Repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip the citizenship of dual nationals. While this provision has been controversial, the only Canadian so far to be targeted has been Saad Gaya, who was a member of the Toronto 18.
A main take away from these proposals is that economic immigration through Express Entry will remain an increasingly important channel going forward. As previous backlogs are worked down, more and more new Canadians will arrive in Canada by means of Express Entry. The points required, and what you may receive points for may indeed change. But having post-secondary education and relevant work skills, as well as competent official language skills, will still be valuable assets for anyone wishing to apply to live and work in Canada.