Canadian Immigration and Traveling: What’s New?

2016 marked a year of multiple immigration changes in Canada. The changes followed the review of the first year of Express Entry and the new immigration goals that the Canadian government has set for the New Year.

Let’s look closer at the major changes that happened in 2016.

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Canada is Welcoming Immigrants

Canada is committed to continue welcoming a high number of new immigrants in 2017. Last year Canada witnessed a record increase in new immigrants since 1971, with over 320,000 new immigrants coming to Canada between July 2015 and July 2016.

As part of their plan for 2017, Canada planning to welcome 300,000 new immigrants. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Economic Immigrants (applicants and accompanying family members in federal programs in the Express Entry system; the Provincial Nominee Program; business immigrants; caregivers; and skilled workers and business immigrants selected by Quebec): 172,500
  • Family (sponsored spouses, partners and children and parents and grandparents): 84,000
  • Refugees and Protected Persons (both resettled refugees (government assisted and privately sponsored) as well as protected persons who become permanent residents): 40,000
  • Humanitarian, Compassionate and Other (persons selected on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, for reasons of public policy and in the Permit Holder Class): 3,500

The numbers have increased in each of the categories since last year, apart from the Refugee category. The goal for the refugees saw a decrease by over 10,000 people compared to 2015, but the number still remains high compared to the earlier years.

The Canadian government is also holding a high number for the Provincial Nomination Programs, which have been very dynamic in 2015-2016. Canada is planning to invite 51,000 people through PNPs in 2017.

Express Entry Changes

After the review of the data from the 2015 Express Entry applications, the Canadian government made a decision to introduce several changes to the Express Entry system, effective as of November 19, 2016. The changes include:

  • Job Offer Points: Reduced number of Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points are awarded for the job offer (50 points for National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B occupation, and 200 CRS points for NOC 00 occupation).
  • Job Offer Eligibility: Points for the job offers are now awarded to the eligible candidates on LMIA exempt work permit (candidates under North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a federal-provincial agreement, Mobilité Francophone, or intra-company transferees). Job offers only need to be a minimum of one year in duration.
  • Education: Students are awarded extra points if they complete their education in Canada (15 points for a one- or two-year program, and 30 points for a three-year or longer program).
  • Permanent Residence (PR) Application: Once invited to apply, candidates have more time to complete their application for permanent residence (90 days).

These changes are aligned with the government’s goals to invite immigrants from diverse professions and occupations and ensure they can both succeed in Canada and contribute to the Canadian economy. For more information on the Express Entry changes, please see our earlier interview with Nevena Djuricic, RCIC.

Family Sponsorship Changes

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Parents and Grandparents

The Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP), under which residents can sponsor their parents and grandparents for PR, will now be based on an invitation system (as opposed to the previous reliance on first come first served basis). The changes were made based on the feedback from the program to ensure that the process is fair and available for the applicants.

Individuals who want to sponsor their parents/grandparents will now have 30 days to fill out an online application form between January 3, 2017 and February 2, 2017. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will then select 10,000 applicants at random and give them 90 days to submit a full application with all the supporting documents. The candidates will be notified if they are not selected, and they can express their interest in the application in the following year.

While the application process has been changed, the qualifications for the program remain the same.

Super visa

A Super Visa program is an option to bring parents and grandparents to Canada on a temporary basis. This visa allows multiple-entry for long-term applicants: it is valid for 10 years and allows the parent/grandparent to stay in Canada for up to two years as of the entry date. However, the Super Visa does not guarantee ability to work or Canadian permanent residency.

Super visa application documents include a letter of invitation and the proof of meeting the minimum income cut-off from the child/ grandchild, proof of the parental relationship, and medical examination along with the proof of medical insurance coverage for the parent/grandparent.

Spousal Applications

The government is determined to ease and speed up the application process for the spouses of Canadians and permanent residents. As of December 7, 2016 the processing time for most spousal applications has been reduced to 12 months from the previous number of 24 months. However, complex cases may still require longer processing times.

“We have listened to Canadians and are delivering results. Bringing families together makes for a stronger Canada. Canadians who marry someone from abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate or be left with uncertainty in terms of their ability to stay,” says John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Dependant Children Applications

The Canadian government is proposing to raise the maximum age of the dependant child from under 19 years to under 22 years of age. If approved, the changes are expected for the fall of 2017.

Temporary Workers Program Changes

The Temporary Workers program has also undergone major changes in 2016.

  • The cumulative duration rule, also known as “four-in, four-out” rule, will no longer apply to the temporary workers. This rule has previously limited foreign workers to work in Canada for four years, after which they were ineligible to work in Canada for another 4 years.
  • Low-wage employers will now be required to advertise to more than one underrepresented group in the workforce (youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people and newcomers). This change has not yet come to effect, but the Canadian government is committed to implement it to ensure that more foreign workers have more pathways to permanent residency.
  • The cap on the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers at a workplace is kept at 20% for employers who accessed the program before June 20, 2014, and 10% for more recent employers (after June 2014 date). According to the Canadian government, the exemption on the cap for seasonal industries seeking temporary foreign workers for up to 180 days during the 2017 calendar year will be extended until December 31, 2017.

Travel Changes

Canada has introduced several changes that impact the travelers, both Canadians and visitors to Canada.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

As of November 10, 2016 Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) has become mandatory for the visa-exempt travelers who are coming to or passing through Canada by air. All visa-exempt individuals with the exception of the US citizens and a few individual cases (please see the list of eTA exceptions) need to apply for the eTA online prior to landing in Canada.

The eTA costs CAD $7 and is valid for 5 years (or until the passport expires). Individuals need to fill a simple form with their name, passport number, email address and a few simple questions. Most eTAs are approved within minutes of application. For more information about the eTAs, please see the eTA infographic.

Traveling for Dual Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents

As of early fall 2016, dual Canadian citizens and permanent residents need to have valid documents when traveling in and out of Canada by air.

  • Dual Canadian citizens traveling to or transiting through Canada by air need to show the Canadian passport to ensure they can safely board the plane and/or land in Canada without being subjected to immigration screening. The only exception is made for American-Canadian dual citizens who can enter Canada with a valid US passport. Dual citizens are recommended to carry both passports during their travels, especially if their second country also requires to show the passport issued by its government.
  • Canadian permanent residents must present their permanent residence card (PR card) or permanent resident travel document (PRTD) when boarding the plane to Canada. Those who don’t have a valid PR card or PRTD may be denied entry to Canada.

Changes in Visa Requirements

Several changes were introduced to the travel requirements for specific countries: Mexico, Romania and Bulgaria.

  • The Canadian government lifted the visa requirement for Mexico, stating that Canada aims to strengthen the relationship with Mexico. Mexican citizens will now need an eTA to enter Canada by plane. The length of stay in Canada is determined by the border service officer, but typically the visitors can stay up to six months since the day of entry.
  • Canada is also planning to lift the visa requirements for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in December 2017. Partial visa lifts are planned for May 1, 2017 for the Romanians and Bulgarians who have held a Canadian temporary visa in the past 10 years and who currently have a valid US non-immigrant visa.
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  1. Eden Tesfamariam says:

    I live in Israel and I need to move to Canada. I think Canada is the beast country in the world because Canadians give equal rights to everyone person.

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