Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2023 Released By IRCC

Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2023 Released By IRCC
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Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) provides updates policy approach and outcomes for the period ending December 31, 2022 with its 2023 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.

As a requirement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, this annual publication gives to the Minister of IRCC the opportunity to inform Parliament and Canadians of key highlights related to immigration to Canada, in terms of statistical reports regarding:

It also offers information on successes and challenges in welcoming newcomers to Canada, outlines the efforts undertaken with provinces and territories in Canada’s shared responsibility of supporting immigration, highlights efforts to support and promote Francophone immigration, and includes an analysis of gender and diversity consideration in Canada’s approach to immigration.

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Progress Made in Reducing Processing Times, Clearing Department Inventories, and Resettling Individuals on Humanitarian Grounds

Immigration Minister Marc Miller opened the report by shedding light on IRCC’s major milestones from the previous year.

According to him, owing to IRCC’s “commitment to improving our client services in collaboration with other levels of government, Canada is better positioned to attract and retain skilled workers needed to sustain the economy and grow our communities.”

Calling 2022 a “record year” for IRCC, the Report cites how the immigration department’s processing capacity increased with the use of new tools, technologies, and employees.

In fact, 5.2 million applications for PR, temporary residence, and citizenship were processed by the department as a result of the same.

This increased processing (double in number to that in 2021), as per Miller, has allowed employers and communities to be supported, and has reunited thousands of spouses, children, parents, and grandparents with their family in Canada.

Inventory reductions between August and December 2022 and the improved processing times can be traced to IRCC’s efforts to “add resources, streamline processing, and harness automation technologies.”

These also yielded a record number of admissions of 437,000 new PRs (against a target of 431,645 admissions), as well as more than 604,000 temporary workers.

These new incomers to Canada helped fill job vacancies in important sectors like healthcare, the trades, and tech, helping rebalance the country’s ageing population.

Miller’s message further shed light on the 4.4% French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec in 2022, which is an attainment of the target set for 2023.

This was in support of Canada’s efforts to “enhance the vitality of French linguistic minority communities” outside of Quebec.

In terms of humanitarian achievements, Canada reached closer to its goal of resettling 40,000 Afghans.

Moreover, the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel was launched in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. More than 95,500 Ukrainians and their families were resettled in Canada in 2022.

Canada’s Approach to Immigration

The Report highlighted the essential nature of immigration for Canada’s socio-econo-cultural progress, with the aging population leading to a shifting worker-to-retiree ratio that the country needs to address.

Considering close to 100% of labor force growth is then owed to immigration (and 100% population growth by 2032), it is vital that the country continue boosting its immigration program.

“Canada continues to deliver and benefit from a strong immigration system, with significant and sustained growth in permanent resident admissions,” read the Report.

“Permanent immigration to Canada has important long-term benefits, as permanent residents and their families contribute to a skilled workforce over the long term, allowing hospitals, schools, transport and construction companies to increase their capacity to provide care, teach, provide transportation, and build infrastructure.”

IRCC Targeting Those Immigrants Who Can Increase Infrastructure

IRCC creates space in the Immigration Levels Plan for those workers who can help increase infrastructure, with special focus on carpenters, contractors, plumbers, and other skilled trades workers for permanent immigration.

On a broader scale, filling labor shortages in specific areas lying outside big cities is achieved through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This allows provinces and territories to adapt their program streams to meet evolving labor needs in their respective jurisdictions.

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), for example, allows the Atlantic provinces to prioritize those sectors that show immediate labor needs.

58.4% of Permanent Residents Immigrated Under Economic Categories

To fill labor market shortages and address post-pandemic economic recovery, a majority of PRs were called in through economic categories of immigration.

This included regional economic programs (the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot) and AIP, which allowed for more equitably-spread immigration benefits across Canada.

Category-Based Selection in the Express Entry System

In June 2022, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was amended to authorize category-based selection in the EE system for launch in 2023.

This tool expands selection flexibility, which enables IRCC to issue invitations to some candidates to meet specified economic priorities and objectives.

The categories, as per the 2023 Report, were informed by labor market data and a consultation process with provincial/territorial partners in 2022.

Another major revision was the implementation of the National Occupational Classification update (NOC 2021) in November of last year.

This revision was led by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada, and introduced a new numbering and classification methodology for occupations in Canada.

NOC 2021’s usage is spread across IRCC programs, and it has helped identify labor needs, clarify skills and qualifications needed to perform Canada jobs, bring IRCC’s administrative data into alignment with ESDC and StatsCan data, and support the growth of PR and temporary residence admissions.

Temporary Resident Policy Changes

IRCC put in place the following temporary public policies in 2022 for international students:

  • It lifted the 20-hour restriction for off-campus work for eligible international students who applied for a study permit on or before that date.
  • Foreign nationals with post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022 can apply for an additional 18-month open work permit.

Digital Service Delivery Transformation

IRCC launched the Digital Platform Modernization (DPM) program in 2022, which is a mulit-year initiative to gradually transform the client experience through new business processes and capabilities underpinned by new enterprise-wide digital technology.

In 2023, IRCC advanced this initiative by developing a blueprint for its future state service design and working with industry to finalize requirements for a new Case Management Platform.

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This is to eventually replace the existing GCMS.

IRCC’s new Client Experience Platform – which will “transform how clients interact with the Department – started being procured and configured by IRCC, and will begin circulation to a “subset of clients” by the end of 2023.

Other digital and service improvements include:

  • In 2022, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the creation of a new task force to improve government services, with a focus on cutting down waiting time for Canadians. The task force will review service delivery, identify gaps and areas for improvement, and make recommendations.
  • IRCC expanded the use of advanced analytics for streamlined triaging of temporary resident visa (TRV) applications from outside Canada.
  • Asylum claimants can initiate a claim for refugee protection inside Canada by using IRCC Portal to complete their application for protection and submit documentation online.
  • Interdepartmental Nova-GCSM interface was implemented to ease communication between IRCC, CBSA, and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Temporary Resident Volumes

  • Visitors 

Due to COVID-19 in 2019 and 2020, visitor trends declined. In 2022, however, trends increased, with 2,866,545 eTAs and 1,923,148 TRVs issued.

More people from across the world are applying to come to Canada every year.

Resultantly, the number of eTAs and TRVs issued increases proportionally to meet entry requirements.

  • International Students 

Unprecedented numbers of initial study permit applications and study permit extensions were received by IRCC in 2022.

In 2022, 550,187 study permit holders existed, which is a 23% increase from the 445,776 in 2021.

  • Temporary Foreign Workers

These workers respond to labor market needs by bringing in global talent to cover labor shortages and skills gaps, enabling the Canadian economy to remain competitive.

Workers entering through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP) contribute to sectors including but not limited to agriculture, food processing, and healthcare.

TFWP is jointly administered by ESDC, which processes LMIA, and IRCC, which issues work permits.

The IMP is solely managed by IRCC, facilitating the entry of workers to support the broader Canadian economic, social, and cultural objectives or reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians or PRs.

Eligible applicants under the IMP are LMIA exempt.

In September 2022, new regulatory measures came into force, protecting temporary foreign workers and helping to prevent mistreatment and abuse.

The 13 new regulatory amendments include measures to strengthen protections for TFWs and are set to enhance the integrity of the TFWP and IMP.

Quebec’s temporary immigration also boosted through the International Mobility Program Plus, which was launched by IRCC in May 2022 in collaboration with the Quebec Ministere de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Integration (MIFI).

This stream gives open work permit access to persons living outside Quebec who have been issued a Certificat de selection du Quebec.

The intent for using this stream is to encourage these individuals to enter Quebec, find employment, and start to integrate into the province – either before or while they are waiting for a final decision on their PR application.

Global Skills Strategy (GSS) Resulted in More Than 92,400 Foreign Nationals with a Work Permit in Highly Skilled Occupations

GSS was launched in June 2017, and between then and December 2022 more than 92,400 foreign nationals held a work permit for highly skilled occupations like computer programming, information systems analysis, and software engineering.

Since its launch, more than 24,500 GSS workers transitioned to permanent status.

Canada Permanent Immigration

  • Economic Immigration 

As the largest source of all 2022 PR admissions in Canada at 58.4%, the number of individuals under this class totaled 255,660. This includes accompanying immediate family (spouses and dependents) of the main applicant.

The three federal economic class immigration programs are:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class

The majority of these are managed via the EE. In 2022, many federal economic programs provided pathways to PR for individuals:

  • In 2020, IRCC launched the Agri-Food Pilot, which gives a pathway to PR for experienced non-seasonal workers in specific agri-food industries and occupations. In 2022, 999 newcomers, including agri-food workers and their families, were welcomed through the pilot.
  • Two active pathways to PR are dedicated to in-home care providers, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot. In 2022, more than 4,300 caregivers and family members were admitted as permanent residents.
  • With an additional 39,044 admissions in 2022 IRCC welcomed new permanent residents through the time-limited Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway.
  • Close to 125,000 individual who had a prior study or work permit became permanent residents across all streams in 2022.

Additionally, 579 entrepreneurs and their family came to Canada under the Start-Up visa.

Some regional economic programs are as follows:

  • There were 88,257 people admitted through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in 2022, a 63% increase from 2021 admissions. This represents over 35% of permanent resident admissions in the economic category.
  • The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) has welcomed over 17,100 principal applicants and their families into the Atlantic region. This program is aimed at attracting and retaining skilled immigrants to Atlantic Canada to address demographic and economic needs in the region.
  • The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is a community-driven program, designed to boost economic immigration to smaller, remote communities by creating a PR path for skilled foreign workers and international graduates. In 2022, it welcomed more than 1,345 principal applicants and their families into the participating rural and northern communities. To further increase the benefits of immigration in participating communities, in September 2022, the Government expanded the geographic boundaries of the RNIP to allow more employers to participate.
  • By the of the end of 2022, 116 people (43 principal applicants and 73 dependants) were admitted to Canada under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP). In addition, in December 2022, Canada introduced new flexibilities to make it easier for refugees to apply by working with Trusted Partners.
  • Bringing in Family of PRs and Canadian Citizens

In 2022, 97,338 persons were admitted to Canada under the family-reunification program. 70,076 admissions were under the spouses, partners, and dependent children categories, with a remaining inventory of 72,671 at the year’s end.

27,262 sponsored parents and grandparents were admitted as Canadian permanent residents, which is a large increase from 2021.

  • IRCC Settlement and Integration

IRCC funded upwards of 550 service provider organizations in 2022-23, and provided settlement services to more than 607,800 clients.

These include pre-arrival and post-arrival orientation and information services, needs and assets assessment and referrals language training, employment-related services that include mentorship and apprenticeship programming, and services that help newcomers connect and contribute to their communities

IRCC also funds support services that help address challenges and barriers to access for settlement services, and supports the integration of French-speaking immigrants through the Francophone Integration Pathway.

International Engagement

Canada has been a global leader with regards to migration and international refugee protection issues.

As a member of international multilateral organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum, and Refugees (IGC), Canada promoted its objectives of “safe and regular migration and upholding protection.”

In 2022, IRCC also advanced Canada’s strategic migration and refugee protection objectives by actively engaging in regional and bilateral activities, along with delivering capacity building assistance.

Challenges Persist in the Immigration System

Miller acknowledged certain shortcomings in Canada’s immigration mechanism.

For one, there is still systemic racism within IRCC, which the department continues to address by implementing anti-racism initiatives and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

In July 2022, for example, it launched its Anti-Racism Strategy 2.0 to further racial equity and inclusion for clients and employees alike. Moreover, the diversity of IRCC front-line staff was increased. However, despite these steps, Miller said that “we (IRCC) have to do better.”

In terms of gender and diversity considerations in immigration, Gender-Based Analysis (GBA) Plus – which is a tool to understand how factors like race and sexual orientation influence access to programs and services – is used in the design and implementation of policies, programs, and other initiatives.

This is to maximize inclusivity in IRCC.

IRCC Collaborates with Key Government Partners to Deliver Its Mandate

Some partners that are essential for IRCC mandate delivery and administration include:

  • The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the Immigration Levels Plan;
  • Employment and Social Development Canada, and potentially others such as Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, federal regional development agencies, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, as part of a ‘whole-of-government’ effort to support immigrants; and
  • Shared Services Canada and Global Affairs Canada as common service providers.
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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.