Canada extends its immigration agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador- what does this mean? Why does the federal government sign immigration agreements with provinces? Understanding this unique feature of Canada immigration and why it makes Canada the best place for skilled immigrants.
Recently, Canada’s Immigration Minister announced that the immigration agreement between Canada’s Federal government and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was being extended by one year.
An immigration agreement between Federal and provincial governments may seem odd for somebody living in a country where all immigration laws, programs, and policies are the monopoly of the Federal or Central government.
But, Canada is unique and there’s no doubt that the unique distribution of immigration powers between the Federal and the provincial governments has made Canada the most-preferred immigration destination in the world.
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Understanding the Federal-Provincial Immigration Agreements
IRCC is the Federal authority regulating immigration in Canada. IRCC has agreements with each province to-
- Define the parameters of IRCC relationship with the province,
- Identify roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in immigration.
Specifically, the agreement contains:
- Immigration intake targets
- Powers of provinces to setup and manage PNP streams
- Framework for pilot programs
Implications of Immigration Agreements
Quebec is a predominantly French-speaking province while English is used more in other provinces. Ontario is the most popular province among immigrants but affordable housing is a very big problem here. The four Atlantic provinces are great places to live but struggle to attract and retain immigrant talent.
Each province has its own set of in-demand skills, demographic issues, and economic targets. A one-size-fits-all approach dictated by the Federal government just won’t work. At the same time, some parameters like the immigrants’ health, finances, and police record must be uniform across the country.
This is why Canada’s immigration system is a combination of centralized rules and decentralized powers.
How much money should an immigrant have to become eligible to enter Canada? What are medical and health requirements to settle in Canada? When does an immigrant become inadmissible due to a criminal record?
These rules are prescribed by the Federal government and must be fulfilled by all immigrants irrespective of the immigration program through which they are settling in Canada.
Further, there are a few federal programs for skilled workers, startup founders, and self-employed individuals with common eligibility rules irrespective of where the applicant wants to settle.
But a few federal programs cannot cater to a vast and diverse country like Canada, which is why provinces are free to setup nomination programs and streams with their own eligibility requirements.
The immigration agreements cover the distribution of immigration powers between the Federal government and the provinces. These agreements provide the legal framework for the various PNP programs and streams.
So, this is how Occupation In-Demand streams of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have minimum language requirement of CLB 4 or higher when it is CLB 7 or higher for Express Entry applicants.
Under Express Entry, FSWP eligibility requires applicants to have at least one year work experience. Yet, provinces can setup International Graduate streams and nominate foreign graduates for permanent residence even with zero work experience.
Benefits of Immigration Agreements
An agreement is possible only when all stakeholders reach at a consensus. This is what makes immigration, at least economic immigration, a non-controversial topic in Canada.
Secondly, immigration agreements ensure uniformity of rules regarding important parameters while leaving the provinces free to come up with their own rules for other parameters. One province may want only French-speaking immigrants while that not be a very big deal for another province.
Or, a province may want to have relaxed rules for in-demand occupations and stricter rules for NOC C or D positions that are not in shortage in the province. The agreements create a strict yet flexible system that’s responsive to the needs and requirements of employers across Canada.
Thirdly, immigration powers and responsibilities are divided but not separated. Provinces can select candidates from the federal Express Entry applicants. The federal government can create pilots for specific provinces or even communities to help boost economic and demographic growth.
These immigration agreements are an important reason why Canada enjoys the reputation of being a tolerant and inclusive society with a meritocratic immigration system.