This past weekend, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released their "Forward regulatory plan: 2016-2018". This is a list of prospective changes to immigration regulations. IRCC released this plan to "give consumers, business, other stakeholders and trading partners greater opportunity to inform the development of regulations and to plan for the future".
The plan covered 11 different matters, and the objectives for each:
1. Suspending old Live-in Caregiver program, and creation of two new programs
In November 2014, the Canadian government took steps to phase out the Live-in caregiver program, but introduced two new programs that would create a pathway for permanent residence for caregivers. The new programs were (1) the Caring for Children Class, and (2) the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class.
The changes resulted in the repeal of the regulations relating to the old Live-in Caregiver Program. However, Canadian government outlined that those individuals in Canada through the old Live-in Caregiver Program could still be eligible for permanent residence if their initial Live-in Caregiver work permit was issued as a result of a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) on or before November 30, 2014. To be eligible, the individuals also need to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements of the program.
2. Changes to Business Immigration programs
The Canadian government announced the termination of federal Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur programs in 2014. Moving forward, the Canadian government plans to create a proposal to remove these programs from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
3. Changes to the International Mobility Program
Canada's temporary foreign worker program is run by two different bodies: (1) Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and (2) IRCC.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program run by ESDC assesses the labour market to determine whether foreign workers should fill temporary labour and skill shortages. This allows for employers to hire foreign nationals, if it is determined (after a labour market test) that qualified Canadians and permanent residents are not available to fill these jobs.
The International Mobility Program (IMP) run by IRCC allows for certain foreign workers to enter and work in Canada on a temporary basis without the need for a labour market test (and by extension, an LMIA). The primary objective of this program is to advance economic and cultural national interests.
With the objective of creating a more flexible framework for mobility between countries, IRCC plans to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to exempt diplomatic missions and certain international organizations from employer compliance requirements required by IMP, when employing foreign nationals in Canada.
IRCC also plans to amend the regulations to facilitate entry of foreign workers who fall under binding international agreements signed by Canada and other countries.
4. Changes to maximum age in definition of "Dependent Child"
At this time, a dependent child is defined as:
- a child less than 19 years of age, who is not married or in a common-law relationship, or
- a child who is unable to financially self-support due to a physical or mental health condition, and who has depended on the financial support of a parent since before 19 years of age.
IRCC has proposed to increase the maximum age of a dependent child, in order to enable more Canadians and Canadian permanent residents to bring their children to Canada. However, the objective does not indicate the new proposed maximum age.
5. Changes to Conditional Permanent Residence
Currently, in order to maintain permanent residence, sponsored common-law partners or spouses who were married for less than two years and had no children when they submitted the sponsorship application, are required to cohabit with their spouse for two years after arriving in Canada. The regulations outline the grounds under which individuals can request an exemption from this requirement.
IRCC has outlined a proposal to change relevant regulatory provisions in order to address concerns arising from the vulnerability of certain sponsored spouses.
6. Changes to expand eligibility of eTA
In 2015, the Canadian government indicated that low-risk travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania, who normally need a visa to enter Canada would be able to enter Canada without a visa if travelling by air. These individuals could apply for an eTA in order to enter Canada by air. Accordingly, the immigration regulations will outline the eligibility criteria for the eTA as follows:
- The individual must have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years, or
- The individual must hold a valid US non-immigrant visa
The regulations will also be amended to allow for information sharing between the US and Canada in order to verify the validity of the above-mentioned visa.
7. Changes to biometrics requirements
The regulations will be amended to allow for the expansion of biometrics, including procedures for collection and verification of biometric information for temporary and permanent resident applications.
8. Changes relating to Five Country Conference Information Sharing
The regulations will be amended to allow for reasonable lawful authority for information sharing between the Canadian government, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. The regulations will also provide the scope and purpose of information sharing, including whose information can be shared, what information can be shared, and when the information can be shared.
9. Changes to enhance Canada's in-Canada asylum system
The plan indicates the necessity to amend the regulations in order to support "enhancements" to the in-Canada asylum system. These plans are still being developed and "will address key findings of the evaluation of reforms made" to the system in 2012, as well as recent Federal Court decisions.
10. Changes relating to the electronic administration and processing of immigration applications
In 2015, there were changes proposed to support and enable the use of electronic tools and electronic processing systems, in order to increase application and processing flexibility, improve client service, and "bolster program integrity". Once the amendments fully come info force, there will be more succinct guidelines regarding the ability to administer and enforce the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act using electronic tools and systems.
11. Changes to the Citizenship Act
Referring to the Canadian government's prior commitment to amend the Citizenship Act, and specifically, provisions relating to the revocation of citizenship, the regulatory plan outlines the intention to make changes to the regulations involving this legislation in the future. The plan also highlights recent amendments to the Citizenship Act through Bill C-6, which was introduced in Parliament in February 2016. Bill C-6 included "amendments to provide greater flexibility for applicants trying to meet the requirements for citizenship and some additional measures to further enhance program integrity".
The regulatory plan provides no concrete plans or steps regarding future amendments to the Citizenship Act.
For more information on IRCC's "Forward regulatory plan: 2016-2018", click here.
For further information regarding these changes, and the impact on your immigration application, contact us now.