1) Canada Immigration Plan for 2019 to 2021 revealed – Canada is projected to admit more than a million new permanent residents over the next three years. The majority of these newcomers will be admitted under the economic classes, including federal and provincial programs. It is possible that the increased quota for newcomers under the economic programs may have downward pressure on the points under which applicants may be successful under the Express Entry system.
2) Expansion of Biometrics Program – Canada began rolling out its Biometrics program in 2013 but 2018 saw the expansion of the program to require biometrics from those who are applying for permanent residence visas as well as those who are applying for temporary visas. As a result of the expansion, most foreign nationals between the ages of 14 and 79 seeking either temporary or permanent residence to Canada have to provide biometrics data. For now, there are some exceptions, the biggest being for US citizens who wish to travel to Canada for work or study. The good news as part of the expansion is that biometric data will now be valid for 10 years from the date given and applicants do not need to provide biometrics with each application as long as their biometrics are valid during the 10 year period.
3) Increased Parent Sponsorship Quota – In August 2018 Canada announced an increase in the quota for the parent and grandparent sponsorship program from 10,000 to 20,000 in 2019. Unfortunately, the government has not yet released details for the 2019 program. But the good news is that the limited quotas of the past few years have allowed Canada to greatly reduce the backlog from a high of 167,000 applicants in 2011 to just about 25,000 in 2018. This will hopefully mean that application submitted in 2018 and 2019 should be processed faster than in previous years.
4) USMCA, the new “NAFTA” – In September Canada, US and Mexico finally agreed on the USMCA, the replacement agreement for NAFTA. While there were no significant changes to the temporary foreign worker provisions and professional work permits, it helps to settle the uncertainty that businesses faced when the future of NAFTA was up in the air and should aid businesses in continuing with cross-border trade and investment.
5) New DUI legislation will impact potential immigrants and permanent residents – New legislation came into effect on December 18, 2018 that increased the maximum sentence for those convicted of impaired driving from 5 to 10 years. This means that convictions for driving under the influence (DUI), whether from use of alcohol or drugs, will be guilty of “serious criminality” under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For those who are foreign nationals with a conviction for DUI and want to travel or immigrate to Canada, they will now face additional criminal inadmissibility challenges. Furthermore, permanent residents who are convicted of a DUI, either in Canada or outside of Canada, will now be at risk of losing their permanent residence and being deported from Canada.
Immigration has been a big topic in the news for much of the past year, especially discussions around the future of immigration for Canada. The discussions are often heated and there is little distinction made between different types of immigration. With the federal general election scheduled for Fall 2019 we will all be watching with great interest to see how the government will handle immigration matters and the choice Canadians will make to shape the future of Canadian immigration in the next election.