2022 is definitely going to be an eventful year for Canada immigration. FSWP draws will be back on the table, provinces will continue announcing new streams, and 2022 fall will see the NOC system being replaced by TEER categories.
Despite all this, the biggest development of 2022 is likely to be the deployment of the Municipal Nomination Program.
The Buzz around MNP
Canada already has one of the most unique immigration systems in the world that allows provinces to establish and run their own immigration programs and nominate skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and international graduates for permanent residence.
The MNP will take this decentralized system a step further and allow Canada’s municipalities to have a bigger say in selection of immigrants entering and living in Canadian cities.
If this goes through, then Canada will become the first country where immigration powers are shared between so many stakeholders. The local government likely to have best understanding of labor shortages and in-demand occupations.
So, the net result of the MNP is likely to be greater immigrant retention and faster and better integration of immigrants into the local community.
How the MNP will Work?
In all probability, the MNP will run just like PNPs with the primary difference that cities and not provinces will setup and run the immigration programs.
Cities will be free to specify eligibility requirements related to work experience, educational qualifications, Canada experience, language proficiency, and other actionable aspects. This process will probably involve consultations with the provincial government.
An immigrant qualifying through this process will get the municipal nomination, which may be approved by the provincial government. Beyond this, the process is likely to remain the same.
Acceptance of the nomination by the federal government will be contingent on the immigrant being medical fitness and having a clean criminal record and adequate settlement funds.
Will 2022 be the Year?
The MNP was first promised during the 2019 federal election campaign. The pandemic made it impossible for any real movement on the MNP. The MNP has found mention in two Mandate Letters since 2019, which means it has not been put on the backburner.
So, chances are high that the program will be deployed in 2022.
Politics apart, the MNP is likely to go through because of the effectiveness of PNPs. Before Provincial Nomination Programs were first introduced in 1998, just 15 percent of all immigrants entering Canada settled outside Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.
Since then, this figure has jumped to 30 percent, which clearly shows that provinces retain immigrants better when they are given the power to create programs suited to their economic needs.
The success of MNP too will be judged on basis of how well municipalities retain immigrants and how the influx of skilled workers addresses the labor market needs of businesses. If successful, cities and regions struggling for sustained economic growth may see a steady increase in population as well as in economic prosperity.
Opportunities for Skilled Workers
The primary reason why more than half of all immigrants prefer one province and why most immigrants prefer to settle in just two or three cities is absence of critical infrastructure in other parts of Canada.
The Atlantic program targeted this problem by requiring employers to provide settlement support to those moving to the four Atlantic provinces.
When the MNP is launched, chances are high that cities too will go out of their way to attract and retain immigrants. For a skilled worker struggling to get an ITA under Express Entry or nomination in a PNP, the MNP may provide a faster route to permanent residence.
It’s probable that the MNP will operate within the province’s PNP, which means where you choose to settle when you get a work permit or where you choose to study in Canada can impact your PR prospects.
With so many options and so many unknowns, the smartest way to proceed would be to work with an immigration professional. This will help you avoid having to choose between immigration programs. Instead, you can keep all the options open until you are sure of qualifying for permanent residence through one of them.
Since it’s unclear when the MNP will be launched, a bit of early preparation and planning will only improve your chances of securing Canadian permanent residence by the end of the year.