Last Updated on July 24, 2017
The Canadian government has just released its annual immigration target for 2017, with the majority of commentators saying 300,000 is an underwhelming figure, especially given the major hike that was expected.
However, before jumping to that conclusion, it is important to consider what the changes in target categories mean for Canada.
Firstly, Canada’s target of 300,000 immigrants for 2016 is already a modern-era record for newcomer numbers.
The increase – from 270,000 in 2015 – was driven by the goal of bringing in nearly 56,000 mainly-Syrian refugees.
Canada’s 2017 Immigration Plan
|Provincial Nominee Programs||49,000||54,000||51,000|
|Quebec Skilled Workers and Business||28,000||31,200||29,300|
|Family||Spouses, Partners and Children||62,000||66,000||64,000|
|Parents and Grandparents||18,000||20,000||20,000|
|Refugees and Protected Persons||Protected Persons in Canada and Dependants Abroad||13,000||16,000||15,000|
|Blended Visa Office-Referred||1,000||3,000||1,500|
|Protected Persons and Refugees Total||33,000||46,000||40,000|
|Humanitarian and Other||Humanitarian and Other||2,900||4,500||3,500|
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
In 2017, that refugee figure is set to drop to 40,000 (still significantly up on historic numbers), but the overall target remains at 300,000, with the gap being made up by 12,000 extra economic immigrants.
Those numbers could grow even more, given the overall upper limit for new permanent residents is 320,000, and for economic immigrants is 183,500. Should the government get nearer these levels of immigration for 2017, it will represent somewhere near the significant increase that was talked about in the run up to Monday’s announcement.
Second, if Canada is going to reach such high levels, the qualifying Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score under the Express Entry System looks likely to drop significantly. Here is why.
Consider that for its 2016 levels under the Federal Economic class, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will process the majority of admissions to Canada from applicants who submitted applications prior to the launch of the express entry system. It is expected that for 2017, this component will decline to about 25% of economic admissions to Canada or (18,425 applicants with dependents). This will allow about 55,275 admissions to be sourced from the express entry pool covering federal skilled worker program, federal skilled trades, Canadian experience Class, post graduate students (a new category expected to be created in 2017) and the newly created Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.
Hypothetically, if in 2017, the government issues 90,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) through Express Entry, more than triple the approximately 24,000 invitations issued to-date in 2016, statistics show that only 60 per cent of those candidates will end up moving to Canada, bringing an average of 2.2 dependents along with them. This would translate to about 55,275 of the targeted 73,700, that will derive from candidates (plus dependents) in the express entry pool.
This means that depending on the profiles of future applicants in the express entry pool, CRS scores need to drop below 400, at some point in 2017, for the first time since Express Entry began (the current lowest score is 453).
Invitations with CRS scores above 450 are difficult to achieve without a positive LMIA. With IRCC still needing to achieve a target of 73,700 immigrants (possibly more), and with the number of pre-express entry applications declining in 2017, how will IRCC reach its targeted number of candidates in 2017? The obvious answer is by issuing a much larger number of invitations. This can only occur by lowering the CRS scores of future draws.
New rules expected to be tabled this fall will help many international students who have graduated from Canadian universities to qualify for an ITA without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), when applying for permanent residence. This is provided they have 12 months of postgraduate work experience in Canada and suitable language ability. This will likely become a separate category with an annual cap of 5,000 applications.
We can also expect further changes to the express entry ranking system, in order to facilitate the admission of certain categories of temporary foreign workers admitted to Canada under the International Mobility Program. These important adjustments designed to satisfy the needs of Canadian employers could remove candidates with very high CRS scores from the express entry pool. This could further result in lower CRS scores than we have seen to date. It is going to become a lot easier to move to Canada through Express Entry at some point in 2017.
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