In last month's newsletter, we covered the recent changes to Canada's citizenship granting rules. In the world of Canadian immigration, rule and process changes happen often. In addition to the changes happening within Canada over the last year, we have also seen an increased demand from foreign nationals to relocate or claim refugee status here, which may have been partly influenced by the incoming president south of our border early in the year.
As 2017 comes to a close, let's take a look at selected changes we saw throughout the last year in Canadian immigration law and what we can expect in 2018.
A New Immigration Minister
In January 2017, the Liberal government appointed a new Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship ("IRCC"). Our current Minister, Ahmed Hussen, is Somali-born and a Canadian refugee himself. He migrated to Canada as a teenager, bringing his role full-circle from his childhood and early beginnings as a Canadian.
Goodbye Conditional Permanent Residence
In 2012, the government introduced conditional permanent residence ("PR") requirements for Canadians sponsoring their spouses or partners. As a conditionally sponsored PR, couples had to reside together for at least two years for the sponsored partner to retain their PR status. The rules applied to couples who were not in a relationship for at least two years and who had no children together.
This year, this requirement was lifted. Now, sponsored spouses and partners are unconditional Canadians PRs as soon as their PR application is approved.
|What happened in 2017?||What is still to come|
|Bill C-6 was passed by Parliament||New process for citizenship revocation by the Federal Court|
|The physical residence requirement for applicants is three out of four years before they apply||Increased power for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent documents|
|Time spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident may be counted as half days, up to a one-year maximum, within the five year period before you apply|
Change in Age of Dependent Child
The cutoff age for dependent children to be included in an immigration application changed back to its pre-2014 definition, going from 19 and under to 22 and under. This rule is expected to say as it is for the near future, or at least until the next government is elected.
Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship
There was much discussion surrounding the parent and grandparent sponsorship category this year. Moreover, rightly so, given the significant wait times and backlogged application process that has plagued the system for years. In 2017, IRCC changed the system from a first-come, first-served model to an invitation based process.
In early 2017, we saw a new form introduced that had Canadian citizens and permanent residents wanting to sponsor their parents first apply to express their interest. From there, immigration officers would assess the sponsor's ability to support their parents before having to gather and submit information about the parents themselves. From the pool of interested applicants, 10,000 individuals were selected to apply in 2017. Those that didn’t cut that round can still try again next year.
Changing Temporary Resident Visa Requirements - Who Needs One?
Some foreign nationals need a Temporary Resident Visa ("TRV") before they can enter, or re-enter, Canada to visit, work or study. In the spring of 2017, the government lifted the visa requirement for citizens of Romania, Bulgaria, and Brazil who travel to Canada by air and who have held a valid TRV in the last ten years or who have a valid US visitor visa. These individuals still need an Electronic Travel Authorization.
Further relaxation to the rules for Romanian, Bulgarian and Brazilian citizens are expected to come into effect before the close of 2017. We will keep you informed as the new rules roll out.
In contrast, citizens of Antigua and Barbuda were found to no longer meet Canada's visa-exemption requirements and, since the summer of 2017, need TRVs before they travel to Canada.
Immigration Levels Plan
The federal government set the 2017 target at 300,000 new immigrants, and the new Minister indicated that this will be a baseline for the future. We can anticipate that this number will be a minimum in 2018, and we are likely to see an even higher number of new immigrants this time next year.
In discussing the level of immigrants, the Immigration Minister quoted a dedication to economic growth and family reunification as top priorities for the government.
These highlights mark just some of the many changes and trends we have seen throughout the last year. With the increased targets the government has set for immigration levels in 2018, we are sure to keep seeing regular updates and process changes to make way for the increased volume of applications - or will the government struggle to meet its targets based on existing processing infrastructure? We will continue to keep you updated based on our experiences and recent discussions in the immigration industry.