As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s immigration system saw many important developments in 2022.
This year, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continued to assess Canada’s economic and societal needs through immigration, leading to many important developments that may impact the country’s immigration system in 2023.
The Immigration Levels Plan
In November, IRCC announced its plan to welcome newcomers over the next three years. Perhaps the most impactful announcement of the year was the immigration levels plan. As part of its economic, family, humanitarian, and refugee streams, Canada will welcome over 1.45 million new immigrants between 2023 and 2025.
Canada’s main economic immigration pathway, the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), is set to surpass Express Entry as the main route for new immigrants in 2025.
Immigration levels at these levels have not been seen since the previous century, and they speak to the importance of immigration as a strategy to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
2022 Will Mark the Return of the All-Program Draws for Express Entry
For the first time since December 2020, all-program Express Entry draws were conducted this July – a turning point in Canada’s recovery from COVID.
A number of economic immigrants arrive each year through the Express Entry system, which consists of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Students From Overseas Who are Able to Work More Than 20 Hours a Week
During school sessions, international students are temporarily permitted to work more than 20 hours a week starting November 15th, 2022. Before this development, students had a maximum of 20 hours of part-time work per week during academic semesters, which was a significant change compared to previous employment conditions.
As of December 31st, 2023, students can work part-time off-campus for an unlimited number of hours during academic semesters. The change was aimed at addressing historic labour shortages in Canada, especially in sectors where students frequently work (such as the food services, retail, and hospitality industries).
Changes to the NOC 2021 and the Addition of Express Entry Eligibility
Canada implemented the 2021 National Occupation Classification (NOC) on November 16th, 2022.
As a result, 16 new eligible occupations were added to Express Entry, while the main change was the shift to Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) codes; and the addition of the 16 new TEER codes. As a result of the change, three occupations were also removed from Express Entry eligibility.
A number of Express Entry candidates have experienced unintended glitches following NOC changes to IRCC systems.
A New Immigration Pilot Program is Announced in New Brunswick
To welcome critical workers to the province, Immigration and Opportunities New Brunswick announced a pilot program in early November. In addition to addressing the specific labour needs of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Critical Worker Pilot (NBCWP) focuses on helping immigrants settle there.
The program is fulfilled by six select employers in industries including manufacturing, food production, farming, and aquaculture; selected for their already existing immigrant settlement services. As part of IRCC’s larger initiative to welcome newcomers to other parts of Canada in need of people, the NBCWP is part of that initiative.
Open Work Permits are Now Available to Families of LIMA-Based Work Permit Holders
A growing number of retirees exiting the workforce and historic labour shortages caused IRCC to make an unprecedented policy change to maximize the potential workforce already in Canada: families of LMIA-based work permit holders were now eligible to apply for Open Work Permits (OWPs).
A work permit issued by OWP allows holders to work for most employers; a work permit issued by LMIA is tied to one employer within a particular industry.
Beginning in January 2023, the new initiative will be implemented in three phases.
In 2023, Express Entry will Target Occupations
Both houses of parliament passed Bill C-19 on June 23rd. According to the bill, the immigration minister can create groups within the Express Entry pool, based on policy objectives (such as in-demand occupations), and issue invitations to apply (ITAs) to these groups.
To address Canadian labour market needs, this bill seeks to further leverage Express Entry. ITAs are issued based on Comprehensive Ranking Scores (CRS) rather than the current system of issuing ITAs, which helps Canada better meet labour shortages.
In 2023, There will be Several Broad Trends
Several of the important changes made in 2022 may shape 2023. These include:
- A renewed effort to welcome newcomers to Canada’s wider regions.
There is support for this idea in the expansion of Provincial Nominee Programs, NBCWPs, and Atlantic Immigration Programs (AIP). It may be that IRCC will seek to welcome immigrants to provinces that are less populated, where the population is aging.
- Immigration targeting specific professions.
This strategy will be pursued by IRCC in 2023 when job vacancies are on the rise. As IRCC looks to address specific labour needs through immigration, Canada has removed barriers to permanent residence for physicians-one of the most in-demand professions in recent years.
- The goal of maximizing the potential workforce in Canada continues to be pursued.
IRCC has already made changes to address the persistent labour shortages and continued overqualification of immigrants. Families of LMIA-based workers will now be eligible for the OWP, and healthcare workers will have access to new immigrant accreditation. As a result of these changes, Canada appears to be keen on utilizing its foreign talent more effectively.