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WES Weekly Roundup May 31, 2022

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World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.

Immigration will fuel Atlantic Canada’s population upswing

Atlantic Canada has become a more popular destination for immigrants and Canadians alike. Immigration has contributed to an increase of permanent residents from 3 percent (in 2015) to 5.7 percent in early 2022. The majority of immigrants to the area come from parts of Asia and West Africa, they tend to be younger in age, and enter the country as economic immigrants. Additionally, in 2021 over 22,000 Canadians have relocated from other provinces adding a boost to the region. Continued growth in the Atlantic is expected in the future with IRCC’s ambitious immigration targets, the Atlantic Immigration Program and increasing number of international students. However, economists caution a new set of challenges that may arise including affordable housing and infrastructure as density in these areas expands. Nevertheless, the increasing growth across the Atlantic will result in higher wage growth, consumer spending and overall a positive impact for the region.

Express Entry draw updates: Canada to introduce major changes soon

Great news, Express Entry draws are resuming! IRCC recently announced updates to the Express Entry system. Among the proposed changes is the ability for the Minister of Immigration to extend invitations to candidates based on a specified economic goal. In addition to other criteria including language and health, candidates would be selected based on occupations and competencies that directly address a current need in the Canadian labour market. Eligible candidates would be organized into categories based on factors including work experience, official language proficiency, and/or educational background. The proposed changes would allow the minister to identify the economic goal and report to Parliament annually on the use of targeted draws. More information on determining which groups would be selected is emerging, and IRCC sources suggest that final decisions would be reached through consultation with employers, local governments, the Immigration Refugee Protection Act, Employment and Social Development Canada. The new changes are set to come into effect, beginning July 2022.

How can Canada avoid major immigration backlogs in the future?

Since the onset of the pandemic, the immigration backlog has grown substantially and currently sits at 2.1 million applicants. Included in these numbers are individuals seeking permanent residency, temporary visas and Canadian citizenship. This opinion piece on behalf of CIC News identifies several ways to learn from and alleviate the immigration backlog. They recommend that:

  • IRCC provides better customer service for individuals inquiring about their applications as some have gone months without any updates.
  • IRCC should align intake of applications with processing capacity in the future. Pathways to immigration continued to be promoted during the pandemic which has contributed to the expansion of the backlog.
  • IRCC should expedite technological transformation, as it can be instrumental in reducing processing times.
  • IRCC should be more transparent and better inform the public about the state of the backlogs regularly.
  • IRCC should conduct an independent study to evaluate what has been effective in reducing the backlogs and where more improvements can be made.
  • IRCC should form a National Advisory Council of Immigration with experts in immigration across stakeholder groups could help the government navigate the current situation and make better immigration decisions

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Canada needs to be as welcoming to Afghan refugees as it is to Ukrainians

As Canada continues to navigate multiple humanitarian responses, disparate measures have been critiqued. Since the commitment was made in August 2021 to accept 40,000 Afghans through specialized streams, roughly 14,000 have been approved. Earlier this year, the Minister of Immigration announced that this process could take up to two years, with many Afghans facing extensive wait times amidst an immigration backlog of nearly 2.1 million applications and on the ground challenges. In contrast, through the Ukrainian response approximately eight times the number of Afghans have arrived since February 2022, with an unlimited number of invitations set to be granted. According to key advocates, the differential treatment amongst refugee groups reveals an "unfairness" in the Canadian immigration system. Many suggest that several underlying factors contribute to an uneven playing field: systemic racism, implicit bias that prefers aiding one group over another, and political pressure from diasporas within Canada. In Canada there are 1.3 million people of Ukrainian descent, but only 84,000 of Afghan origin (Statistics Canada, 2016). Experts are calling on the government to learn from current lessons and work towards building more inclusive and equitable humanitarian frameworks.

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