According to a new study, immigrants arrive in Canada with an average of $47,000 in savings but over half of that is used to get settled. Almost one-fifth of immigrants come with no savings whatsoever, the report by the Bank of Montreal says.
After all initial expenses related to making the transition to a new life in Canada, immigrants are left with an average of $20,000.
The study is the first of a series examining financial issues that face new Canadians – defined by BMO as those who have moved to Canada less than 10 years ago.
New Canadian residents use the money they still have after moving and related expenses to save for retirement (53 per cent), their children’s education (49 per cent), to make a major purchase such as a house or car (44 per cent) or to go on a trip, the survey indicates.
Two thirds of the respondents said they send an average of $2,300 back home to relatives or friends.
67 per cent of those polled feel their standard of living has improved since coming to Canada, with 27 per cent saying their lifestyle has improved greatly.
The survey found that immigrants to British Columbia have the highest average amount of savings at $86,270, while those settling in Alberta have the lowest at $28,784. Immigrants to Quebec have the lowest average amount of money left after the move: $7,388 compared with an average nest egg of $36,527 on arrival in that province.
The survey was conducted by Pollara between Feb. 4 and Feb. 19, 2015, based on an online sample of 507 people who have immigrated to Canada in the past 10 years.
A drastic decrease in the proportion of immigrants seeking Canadian citizenship, from 79% in 2000 to 26% in 2008, is raising fears that new rules and fees are discouraging immigrants from becoming Canadian citizens.
Analysis of citizenship data has led to former Citizenship Director-General, Andrew Griffith, to warn about the implications of immigrants becoming disenchanted with citizenship rules applicable in Canada. The former Director-General has opined that the drastic fall in citizenship data is a result of the reforms introduced by the Conservative government, including the introduction of a new version of the citizenship test.
The expert is of the opinion that recent changes have made it tougher for immigrants to acquire citizenship, leading to a piquant situation where a large number of immigrants are unable to enjoy the political benefits of Canadian citizenship.
Analyzing data released by the government, Griffith has expressed concern over the significant decline in the ratio of permanent residents seeking Canadian citizenship. As compared to 79% amongst immigrants who arrived in 2000 and 44% amongst immigrants settling in Canada in 2007, only 26% of those who obtained Permanent Residence in 2008 chose to become citizens of the country.
Considering that the process of acquisition of citizenship takes around six years, the 2008 data is, according to Griffith, a clear indicator of the negative impact of the recent reforms introduced in Canada. While acknowledging the link between conversion rate and the duration of stay as permanent resident, Griffith pointed out that an 18% reduction in demand for Canadian citizenship between 2008 and 2007 was an alarming development.
Responding to the criticism, spokesperson of Citizenship and Immigration Canada said non-fulfillment of all the requirements to initiate the citizenship process may be the primary cause behind the variation in data. The spokesperson pointed out that Canada has always enjoyed a high rate of naturalization, at around 86%, as compared to other countries.
The biggest distinction between permanent residents and Canadian citizens is that the former cannot vote or hold a Canadian passport. Further, permanent residents face the risk of revocation of permit, which may result in their removal from the country. Further, citizens are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Griffith has been vocal in his criticism despite being associated with the government during the development and implementation of the reforms. Acknowledging the rationale behind the changes, Griffith emphasized on the importance of an inclusive instead of exclusion-oriented approach. While stating that citizenship should be restricted only to those who were serious about it, Griffith warned against creation of inadvertent barriers that may affect the relationship of some communities with Canadian society.
Over the past four years, Canada has introduced numerous reforms, including administering of a new citizenship test and an increase in passing scores from 60% to 75%. Applicants are now required to correctly answer 15 out of the 20 multiple choice questions in order to qualify for citizenship. The test is designed to assess immigrants’ knowledge about the history, culture, and values of Canadian society.
Commenting on the impact of the new test on immigrants of different communities, Griffith pointed out that immigrants from the Caribbean region have witnessed a 20% decline in their passing percentage. Immigrants from other communities from South Asia, South Africa, and East Africa witnessed a decline of more than 15%.
Responding to this criticism, the CIC spokesperson pointed out that applicants from all communities undergo the same test. Further, the spokesperson pointed out that an overall pass percentage of 85% is a clear indication that the test is neither too easy not to difficult for immigrants applying for citizenship.
Another obstacle, according to Griffith, is the significant hike in citizenship application fees. In the past, the decision to opt for citizenship was based on the education and income levels of the immigrants. Griffith pointed out that high fees have created an additional hurdle for immigrants on an unsound financial footing.
In 2013, the fee for processing citizenship applications was increased from $100 to 530 over two separate hikes in February and December. Further, immigrants who qualify are required to pay an additional $100 towards the Right of Citizenship fee.
Warning the government of further issues in engaging with immigrants and creating an attachment to the identity of Canada, Griffith pointed out that demand for citizenship has come down despite the fact that the most controversial changes to citizenship rules are yet to come into force.
New residence rules require applicants to be present in Canada for four out of six years as opposed to the earlier requirement of three out of four years. Further, age limit for exemption from language and citizenship tests has been raised from 55 years to 65 years. Both these changes will come into force from June 2015.
The former head sought a fair balance between maintaining a vigorous process for identifying future citizens without making the entire process seem like an unfair and unreasonable farce.
The percentage of immigrants who obtain Canadian citizenship has fallen sharply from 79% to 26%, according to a study of immigrants who arrived between 2000 and 2008.
The fall is due to new rules and fees that have made it more difficult for people to become Canadian, says former citizenship director general Andrew Griffith.
Griffith’s report, which analyzes the effect of citizenship reforms, is based on official government data and shows that the proportion of Canada’s permanent residents who eventually acquire citizenship has been declining since 2000, with sharp drops recorded in the past few years. Figures for 2008 show that only 26% of permanent residents who settled in Canada that year have become Canadian citizens, compared to 44% in 2007 and 79% in 2000.
Griffith’s study also shows that the number of citizenship applications from visible minorities had been adversely affected since the launch of the new version of Canadian citizenship test. “In the past, citizenship was viewed as a stepping stone to immigrant integration, and it should be done earlier on,” says Griffith. “These changes have made it harder and prohibitive for some to acquire citizenship, turning Canada into a country where an increasing percentage of immigrants are likely to remain non-citizens, without the ability to engage in the Canadian political process.”
According to Griffith, government data shows that it takes immigrants an average of six years to obtain Canadian citizenship. And the numbers of 2008 show only the first wave of effects caused by the citizenship reforms, meaning further declines are to be expected.
“The permanent-resident-to-citizen conversion rate does generally rise the longer immigrants have been in Canada. But an 18% decrease between the 2008 and 2007 cohorts is alarming,” says Griffith.
However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada does not agree with Griffith’s analysis. Johanne Nadeau, spokesperson for CIC, says that Griffith might have misinterpreted the data as “he is not taking into account those (permanent residents) who are not yet eligible to become citizens because they haven’t met all of the requirements needed to begin the citizenship process.”
Nadeau says that Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates globally and “86% of eligible permanent residents for Canadian citizenship decide to acquire it”, mainly because of the benefits of Canadian citizenship over permanent residency, which includes the right to vote, and possession of Canadian passports.
The citizenship reforms introduced since 2010 include a new tougher citizenship test designed to evaluate an applicant’s knowledge of Canada’s culture, history, and values. The passing score for this test has also been increased from 60% to 75%.
Additionally, the increase in citizenship fees has added a further obstacle for those seeking citizenship. Last year the fee was increased from $100 per adult to $300 in February, and again to $530 in December.
Griffith says he understands the rationale behind these government changes but believes that steps should be taken to promote inclusion rather than exclusion. “We need to make sure those who apply for citizenship take it seriously, but we don’t want to inadvertently create excessive barriers and shift the relationship of some of the communities with the country.”
Further controversial changes are set to come into force later this year that will make it harder to obtain citizenship. One such change is the requirement for citizenship applicants to have been present in Canada for four out of the previous six years, rather than the current requirement of three out of the previous four years.
Ottawa’s share of new immigrants continues to decline as newcomers increasingly opt for the economic opportunities of Western Canada or the cultural diversity of Montreal.
A Statistics Canada study released last week reveals that the percentage of immigrants who cited Ottawa as their intended destination has dropped to 2.4 per cent in 2012 from 3.4 per cent in 2000.
This means that despite Canada welcoming more newcomers, the actual number of immigrants settling in Ottawa has gone down. Annual immigration to Canada rose to 280,700 in 2012 from 227,500 in 2000.
“The recession hit Ontario pretty hard and it’s normal that immigrants don’t want to go to someplace where economic conditions are not as good,” said Gilles Grenier, a University of Ottawa economics professor who specializes in labour market and immigration issues.
The Statistics Canada research paper, Changes in the Regional Distribution of New Immigrants to Canada, examines the country’s evolving settlement pattern.
It shows that new immigrants have started to look at destinations such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, where economies have been booming. Montreal has also seen its share of newcomers increase to 18.1 per cent in 2012.
Meanwhile, Toronto, which attracted 48.4 per cent of all new immigrants in 2000, saw its share of newcomers fall to 30 per cent in 2012. However, the city remains the country’s biggest magnet for immigrants.
According to Statistics Canada analysts, the new settlement pattern reflects changes in regional economic activity and employment. “In short, labour market conditions were better in Western Canada than they were in the rest of the country,” the report concluded.
That more newcomers were settling outside of Toronto and Vancouver was also a reflection of Canada’s revised immigration system. Provincial nominee programs (PNPs) allow provinces to select and nominate immigrants to meet their own economic goals and growth targets.
Statistics Canada analysts said the distribution of newcomers within Canada has also been affected by shifts in the country’s immigration sources. In the late 1990s, most of Canada’s immigrants came from China and India, and they tended to settle in Toronto and Vancouver. By 2010, however, the Philippines was the biggest source of Canadian immigrants, and they have settled in cities across the country, the report said.
Montreal’s growth as a destination city was driven by increased immigration from Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
By the numbers
48.4: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2000
30: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2012
5.5: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2000
9.2: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2010
21.3: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2000
12.8: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2010
14: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that arrived from the Philippines in 2010
More immigrants chose to make Nova Scotia their home last year than at any time in the last 10 years, the provincial government said Monday. According to a statement issues by Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab 2,661 immigrants settled in the province in 2014.
Since 2004, when 1,771 immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia, the number rose almost every year and peaked at 2,651 in 2008 before dropping off to 2,138 in 2011 and increasing steadily in the past three years.
Among last year’s immigrants, 717 people came through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program — the highest figure to date for the program. According to the government, a total of 1,050 individuals are expected to gain permanent residency through the program in 2015.
According to Diab an increasing number of immigrants are choosing to stay in the province. The latest figures from Statistics Canada indicate 71 per cent of immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2007-2011 stayed in the province. Between 2003 and 2007 the retention rate for immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between was 69 per cent.
Diab said the province has streamlined the application process for skilled and educated immigrants, strengthened ties between government and settlement service providers and changed the nominee program to allow international students to stay in Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotia is a welcoming community and we want to ensure our province is seen by immigrants as an excellent choice,” Diab said in a statement.
In 2014, the government accepted a major economic development report that said the province is facing a prolonged economic decline unless population and economic trends are reversed and suspicious attitudes about business are changed. The report was co-authored by Acadia University president Ray Ivany and stated that Nova Scotia’s population was expected to decline over the next 20 years due to young people continuing to leave the province in search of work.
The report says that by 2036, the province expects to have 100,000 fewer working-age people than it did in 2010.
Ivany said the number of people admitted annually to the province should be tripled.
From 1 April 2015, a change to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program could see some migrant workers refused work permits. The change should be scrapped because it would force an exodus of foreign workers from B.C., says an advocate.
On April 1, 2011, the federal government introduced legislation known as the “four in and four out” rule, limiting how long some temporary foreign workers could work in Canada to four years. The first temporary foreign workers to whom the rule applies could reach their four-year limit on April 1, 2015.
After that, they must wait another four years, either outside Canada or in Canada as a visitor or student, before they can be granted a fresh work permit. Previously, temporary foreign workers who came to Canada under the low-skilled stream could reapply to continue working for their Canadian employer.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has made an exception for TFWs approaching their four-year limit in Alberta, offering a bridging permit if they applied for permanent residency under the Provincial Nominee Program by July 1, 2014. Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney has said Ottawa is willing to extend similar measures to other provinces.
CIC lists several situations in which workers may be exempt from the four year rule including:
- Management and professional workers, including spouses and dependants
- Workers exempt due to international agreements, Canadian interests, self-support, humanitarian reasons
- Workers doing jobs which do not require a work permit
- Permanent resident applicants who have received a positive selection decision or approval in principle
- Provincial nominees applying for an employer-specific work permit
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The effect of this policy will substantially add to the numbers of undocumented immigrants in Canada. There are currently approximately 150,000-200,000 undocumented illegal immigrants in Canada.
The proportion of new Canadians calling Saskatchewan home has more than tripled over the past decade.
According to a new Statistics Canada study, 2.7 per cent of the country’s 280,682 immigrants planned to settle in Saskatchewan in 2010, a rise of 0.8 per cent of 227,429 immigrants in 2000.
While Saskatchewan welcomed 7,615 immigrants in 2010, compared to 1,891 in 2000, the proportion of immigrants settling in Toronto — which once attracted almost half of newcomers — declined. The proportion of immigrants settling in Toronto dropped to 33 per cent in 2010 from 48 per cent in 2000.
The increasing numbers of immigrants going to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is attributed to the growth of provincial immigrant nominee programs in the west during this time.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nomination Program, which was expanded throughout the 2000s, was a significant driver for immigration, said David McGrane, a political studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan and board member for the Saskatoon Open Door Society, which assists immigrants and refugees in the city.
Naveed Anway, who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 1992 and also serves on the Saskatoon Open Door Society board, said he doesn’t expect the upward trend of immigrants to continue. He said recent changes to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program that make it harder for workers to bring family members to the province make Saskatchewan a less attractive place to come to now than it was 10 years ago.
Rising numbers of immigrants have contributed to Saskatchewan reaching an all-time population high of 1,132,640 on January 1. Premier Brad Wall said that the growing population reflects the strength of the province and its economy.
Canadian Immigration officials will be allowed to share the personal information of citizens and permanent residents with other government agencies, under new proposals tabled on Friday. The plan would permit the sharing of information between immigration and border enforcement officials, Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, the RCMP, and other federal and provincial agencies.
The rules are being proposed to allow government agencies to be alerted to any changes in an individual’s immigration status as well as to authenticate the identity and immigration status of individuals and reduce fraud in the use of government services.
“There is a need to clarify and make explicit the legislative authority for CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) to share personal information through its different business lines and with these partners,” the proposal states.
“CIC has relied on the Privacy Act to support some information sharing. However, this has created uncertainty regarding what information can and should be shared, and has limited CIC’s ability to share information.”
The plan gives the revenue agency a central role in the new information exchange network as it would allow immigration authorities to access the Income Verification Program in order to identify any false or inconsistent declarations of financial circumstances submitted by residency and citizenship applicants.
“This would help uphold the integrity of the immigration system as a whole and improve client service, both in the citizenship and across the government,” it said.
The provincial government of Quebec is planning to launch a consultation to understand the pinions and views of its residents regarding immigration, diversity, and inclusion in the province. The consultation move is making it easier for the government to implement the planned overhaul of its immigration policy.
The Immigration Minister for the province noted that finding a job was the biggest challenge for new Quebecers. The Minister opined that integration of the immigrant into the workforce through recognition of his or her professional skills was an issue that the government sought to address in its policy overhaul.
The government also plans to recognize foreign credentials; the absence of such recognition being a source of immense frustration for skilled immigrants from other countries. The Minister said that the government was aware of the feeling of exclusion that immigrants experience when they are unable to find jobs after shifting to the province.
To minimize instances of second generation immigrants failing to find jobs suited to their skills, the government plans to involve critical employers in the discussion about the new immigration policy planned by the government. There have been reports of instances of immigrants from visible minorities or those who don’t come across as French speakers struggling to find jobs in the province.
Speaking about the demand for a secular charter, the Minister said that the government prefers to focus on real issues related to immigration instead of talking about a charter of values, which would only lead to a divisive debate. These comments were aimed at the PQ leadership candidate, Bernard Drainville, who has announced his version of the new secular charter bill. Bernard has stated unequivocally that integration cannot occur without secularism, and that the State must remain neutral to preserve diversity.
The consultations about the new immigration policy are set to commence from the end of January 2015.
Canada recently unveiled elements of a proposal to attract wealthy immigrants, provided they invest a minimum 2 million Canadian dollars ($1.7 million) into a venture-capital fund. The Canadian government said this would start as a pilot program and would accept applications starting in January.
The program is similar to what other western countries have used to attract wealthy newcomers. Canada’s immigration minister, Chris Alexander, said the nation would accept up to 500 applications from prospective immigrants with a net worth of C$10 million. Canada will grant residency visas to at least 50 people on the condition they invest C$2 million into a venture-capital fund that will in turn use the cash to backstop Canadian startups. The government added that there will be no guarantee that prospective immigrants will get a return on their investment.
This immigration program tied to venture-capital investment replaces a visa program that granted permanent residency to those who committed C$800,000 to a Canadian province through a five-year, zero-interest loan. Canada ended the program last February and in doing so, canceled a backlog of tens of thousands of mainly Chinese applicants.
Before Canada halted its investor immigration program earlier this year, it was the second-most popular immigration destination for Chinese immigrants, according to the Center for China & Globalization, a nonprofit research firm in Beijing.
Besides the minimum investment and net-worth requirements, immigration lawyers said the new program has strict conditions for entry. For instance, applicants must be proficient in either English or French and hold an education diploma that is the equivalent of a Canadian postsecondary degree.
Language has been part of the requirement for immigrating to Canada, but not for investment-based immigration. China has seen an increased popularity of French language institutes, as wealthy Chinese discovered a back door into Canada that involves applying for entry into Quebec, as long as the applicants have a working knowledge of French.
Source: Wall Street Journal