John McCallum: Major immigration changes before Christmas; visit to India for attracting skilled immigrants
Major changes are coming to the immigration system that will be announced step by step till Christmas. This was stated by John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship while at the Channel Y studio
over the weekend. McCallum not only gave Diwali greetings to the community on behalf of his government but also talked about some of the changes being introduced. He said looking at some of the abusive relationships in spousal immigration cases, where the spouse is being sponsored, would no longer be required to stay in a relationship for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status in Canada. Changing this will support the government’s commitment to combating gender-based violence. Minister McCallum also mentioned keeping its election promise that ‘a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian’, offenders will be punished in Canada and would not be depor ted to their country of origin. The only instance when a person can be depor ted is when someone provides wrong information. Adding fur ther McCallum said one of the major election promises of reducing the amount of time permanent residents have to live in Canada in order to become eligible to apply for citizenship, from four out of six years to three out five years – has already been sent to the senate and announcement in this regard is expected before Christmas. The Minister said also mentioned his government will remove language proficiency requirements for cer tain applicants. McCallum said the government will also soon announce substantially reducing the processing time for family unification. For international students he said systems are being put in place to make it easier for international students to become permanent residents. McCallum also mentioned that this year the government target was to permit 300,000 newcomers to the country but its economic growth advisory council has recommended increasing immigration levels to 450,000 people a year over the next five years that is 50% more. The minister informed the numbers are being reviewed as they are overly ambitious as the issue is being debated among Canadians that hiking immigration at a time of high unemployment would not be the right decision. He said the decision to increase the number would not be right if integration of new immigrants is not managed effectively. McCallum also considered the Canadian immigration website as old fashioned making it difficult to navigate and so mentioned that work is being done to make it less bureaucratic but friendly like some of the other countries such as UK. On Tuesday, the Government of Canada announced it is maintaining its commitment to a strong immigration program and will welcome 300,000 immigrants in 2017. Immigration plays an impor tant role in keeping Canada competitive in a global economy. It helps offset the impacts of an aging population and the fact that the number of people in Canada’s labour force will soon be in decline. In fact, immigration will soon account for all net labour force growth as the number of retirements outpaces the number of Canadian youth joining the labour market. For these reasons, the Government has established 300,000 as a new baseline for permanent resident admissions with the majority of these selected as economic immigrants. Within this plan, the number of permanent residents selected economic programs will increase. Though planned admissions of resettled refugees will decrease when compared to the extraordinary target in 2016, they will continue to remain among the highest in Canada’s history and will be more than double the target in 2015. Maintaining the Government’s commitment to family reunification, the 2017 plan also sees an increase to family class levels, which will help to reduce processing times and reunite more families. Overall, the plan balances high immigration levels with improvements to the immigration system, including reducing backlogs. The approach to the 2017 levels plan was guided by feedback from Canadians gathered over the summer months and from provinces and territories.