With the curtains closing on 2022, it’s time to look back at an eventful year for Canadian immigration, the positives, the negatives and what we can look forward to in 2023.
The Canadian population in 2022
Canada’s population continued its upward trend towards the tail end of 2023. Economic immigration and extensions of it were primarily responsible for this growth, both in the number of permanent and non-permanent residents. Incidents like the Russian invasion of Ukraine also contributed to more refugees driven from war-torn areas.
In October 2022, the Canadian population was 39 million, marking its highest quarterly increase from July. The growth was pegged at +0.9% or 362,453 people.
Permanent resident streams in 2022
The Immigration Levels plan raised the targets even further after a record 2021 when Canada welcomed 406,000 permanent residents from the economic, family reunification, and refugee/ humanitarian streams.
The Immigration Levels plan for 2022-2024 set a target of 431,645 permanent residents for the year, with 241,850 from the economic category, followed by 105,000 in the Family category, 76,545 in the Refugees and Protected persons category and 8,250 in the Humanitarian category.
Canada is on track to exceed these targets by the end of 2022.
Economic Immigration in 2022
Economic immigration gathered more steam as Canada faced labour shortages in critical sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and STEM fields.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian employers had 959,600 vacant positions in the third quarter of 2022, which was 8.3% higher than in the same quarter of 2021. The job vacancy rate, or the proportion of vacant positions to the total labour demand, was at 5.4%
The Provincial nominee and Federal economic immigration program were at the forefront of this category.
The Canadian government prioritized family reunification as a pivotal step to attract, retain and integrate skilled immigrants. The IRCC targeted 105,000 permanent residents under the family class in 2022.
The government curbed the income requirements for sponsors in 2022 to account for the effects of the pandemic. For the 2020 and 2021 tax years, interested sponsors will only be required to meet the minimum necessary income without the added 30% as was previously required. Additionally, Employment insurance benefits and Covid-19 benefits will also count toward the sponsor’s income.
The government also changed the Super visa in 2022, allowing holders to stay for up to five years at a time with the option to extend it two years at a time without leaving the country.
Humanitarian aid in 2022
The Canadian government also showed its commitment to humanitarian causes, welcoming refugees from foreign wars and conflicts.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted the creation of the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) which allows Ukrainians affected by the war to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years with a free open-work permit or study permit.
The CUAET received 735,927 applications and approved 456,083 applications between March 17 and December 13, 2022.
Temporary- work visa, study permit in 2022
Canada is also due for a record year in processing temporary residence applications. As of November 30, 2022, the IRCC has already processed over 670,000 study permits and 700,000 work permits.
Canada is also due to start a new, temporary 2-year measure starting January 2023 that will open the open work permit to spouses and eligible children of temporary foreign workers in Canada. This new initiative will be conducted in a phased manner as follows:
- Phase 1 applying to family members of temporary foreign workers in the high-wage stream
- Phase 2 applying to family members of temporary foreign workers in the low-wage stream
- Phase 3 for family members of agricultural workers
Canadian Citizenship approval rates in 2022
Canada maintained its exceptional naturalization rates in 2022, with over 251,000 applicants receiving their Canadian citizenship between April and November. This exceeded the total number of citizenships issued in the whole of 2021.
Servicing Standards in 2022
The IRCC has also been working to reduce their overall inventory backlogs dating back to the pandemic. In 2022 the IRCC set out to process 80% of all applications within their servicing standards.
To comply with the targets, the IRCC digitalized its applications, launching a new online portal to facilitate online applications for permanent residency. The department also hired and trained additional employees, streamlined processes and integrated automation systems to achieve this goal.
Overall, the IRCC finalized 671,000 study permit applications between January 1 and November 30, 2022, and approximately 698,000 work permits over the same period.
The IRCC is also on track to meet the 431,000 new permanent resident mark by the end of the year.
Implementation of the new NOC 2021
Canada also transitioned to the new NOC 2021 on November 16, 2022. The latest version replaced the old skill levels of the 2016 version with the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) classification.
The new NOC 2021’s TEER system gives better clarity to the training, experience and education required in a profession which was sometimes vague in the previous Skill based grouping.
No 20-hour limit for off-campus work hours in 2022-2023
Canada introduced a new temporary public policy in 2022, allowing eligible international students to work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week without a work permit.
The policy set to run from November 15, 2022, to December 31, 2023, was necessitated by Canada’s current labour shortages. With the new arrangement, Canada can fill its temporary labour needs and sustain its economic growth with eligible international students.
The complete announcement and eligibility requirements can be found on the Canadian government’s official website.
Changes coming to the Express Entry in 2023
Bill C-19, introduced in the Canadian Parliament, received royal assent on June 2022. Division 23 of this bill deals with amendments to Canada’s Express Entry system that is responsible for immigration programs like the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker program, Federal Skilled Trades program and some of the Provincial Nominee program.
Some changes that you can expect in the Express entry process in 2023 are as follows:
- Rounds of Invitations will be based on new groupings and categories and not simply on immigration class
- Foreign nationals will have to specify which stream they want to make their application on
- Ministers will also be required to set out the economic goal of the categories created under this new bill
- The new categories created under this bill, the economic goals of the program, and the number of invitations issued under it must all be published in the Annual Report to Parliament
Canada’s new Immigration levels plan for 2023-2025
The Immigration Levels plan 2023-2025 targets 465,000 permanent residents in 2023, with a renewed focus on sectors critical to the Canadian economy like healthcare, skilled trades, manufacturing and tech. Regional immigration will also receive more attention to ensure an even spread of benefits across the country.
Other goals for 2023 include the following:
- Achieve over 60% of admissions in the economic class by 2025.
- Implement new features in Express Entry to welcome essential workers in required sectors.
- Increase regional immigration programs like the Provincial nominee program and the Atlantic immigration to address local labour market needs.
- Improve Family reunification programs for faster family reunification.
- Ensure that 4.4% of all permanent residents outside Quebec are Francophone.
- Provide a safe haven to people facing prosecution.
There’s much to be optimistic about in 2023 with the government’s higher targets for both the economic immigration and family reunion streams.
The Canadian immigration process will also benefit from the changes made to its servicing standards with faster processing times, new categories under Express entry, a more relevant NOC 2021 and a decrease in backlogs. These measures will inevitably translate to more opportunities for prospective immigrants in 2023.