Published on: Sep 12, 2019
Immigrants to Canada are required to declare their entire family when applying for permanent residence, including spouses and partners, dependent children, and grandchildren where the parent is a dependent child. This is true even when the relatives in question aren't coming to Canada; they still have to be examined. When an immigrant fails to declare a family member, this usually results in a lifetime sponsorship ban: anyone not declared in the initial application can never be sponsored.
A two-year pilot program, that took effect on September 9, is relaxing these long-term bans. Because this ineligibility disproportionately affects young children who will carry the restriction throughout their lifetimes, some individuals under the lifetime ban will now be able to apply to have it lifted. This change only applies to family or refugee immigrants rather than those admitted as economic immigrants, and the applicant still has to meet certain conditions. For example, the program is currently only open to foreign nationals who would not have made their sponsor ineligible if they had been examined at the time of the sponsor's application. Nonetheless, this is welcome news for family members of immigrants to Canada who might previously have been unable to rejoin them. The pilot program is currently slated to run until September 2021.
The Student Direct Stream is a way for people intending to study in Canada to get their study permits more quickly -- typically within 20 days. However, not all applicants are eligible for the Student Direct Stream; until this week, only students from China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam had access to this method. From September 9, however, students from Morocco and Senegal will also be able to use the SDS online application system.
In addition to opening simplified student immigration to a more diverse pool of applicants, this change to the SDS is intended to support the government's ambition of inviting a wider range of French-speaking immigrants. Both Morocco and Senegal are former French colonies, with French widely taught in schools.
Immigration policy goes beyond changes to immigration law; governments and other groups can do a lot to promote immigration, both in terms of attracting immigrants and influencing public attitudes. One example of this is the recent series of ads launched by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, EduNova, and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia touting the economic benefits of immigration. These ads focus not only on the role of immigrant workers and international students in developing the economy but also on the cultural benefits of diversity.
Possibly raised in response to recent ads attacking alleged "mass immigration," these billboards represent the shared view of both business groups and government that immigration is an important way of adding skilled workers to the economy, especially in light of an ageing population and labour skills shortages in Nova Scotia. In related news, September 4 saw Nova Scotia's most recent Labour Market Priorities draw, which invited over 200 people from the Express Entry pool to apply for residence in the province. Among the groups selected were applicants with high proficiency in French as well as workers in fields like finance and education. Nova Scotia's immigration advocacy seems to be paying off: new permanent resident numbers are increasing and hopes are high that the trend will continue.
The news in Canadian politics is, of course, that Canadians will be going to the polls on October 21 to elect a government. Despite the importance of the election on a wide range of issues, many experts believe that it won't result in substantial changes to immigration policy. Conservatives and Liberals may disagree about exactly how to manage the immigration system, with Conservatives typically supporting a greater emphasis on economic immigration while Liberals support higher levels of refugee immigration, but these tend to reflect different views about the right balance of immigration types within a shared policy of encouraging and funding immigration. While different election results could lead to different outcomes in the details of immigration policy, the history of both parties' immigration positions suggests that those changes are likely to occur within a policy framework that sees immigration as an important contributor both to Canada's economy and to its culture.