Canadian immigration reforms continue for international students.

A maple leaf painted on a sidewalk using a ste...
A maple leaf painted on a sidewalk using a stencil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At the recent annual conference of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) reported on the continuing implementation of previously announced reforms to Canada’s International Student Program (ISP). The CIC briefing also highlighted several important service changes intended to improve Canadian visa processing.
In a related development, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) moved to address a persistent critique of Canada’s Bill C-35 legislation (now the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) by introducing a new professional designation that would permit international student advisors based at Canadian institutions to once again provide guidance to students regarding immigration issues. The new designation was formally approved at the council’s annual general meeting in Toronto yesterday.

Students migrating to Canada

Echoing an important observation from our recent report on Canadian enrolment trends, CIC officials affirmed that the number of former international students choosing to immigrate to Canada continues to increase.
They advised as well that former international students primarily immigrate to Canada via the following five programmes:
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) – Under this option, Canadian provinces or territories can nominate people to immigrate to Canada based on their skills, education, and work experience.
  • Skilled Worker Class – This programme allows up to 25,500 skilled workers or professionals per year to apply directly for permanent residence status.
  • Family Class – This mechanism allows people to apply for permanent residency with a sponsorship from a family member who already has Canadian citizenship or is a permanent resident.
  • Canadian Experience Class – This programme allows up to 8,000 people per year who have already lived in Canada for some time, and have adapted to Canadian culture and language, to apply for permanent residency.
  • Investor Class – An option targeted to immigrant entrepreneurs planning to start a business in Canada.
Of these, CIC notes that for 2013, “Post-Graduation Work Permit holders who transitioned to permanent residence were most likely to do so through the Provincial Nominee Program.”
In a related development, in January 2015 CIC will launch a new electronic system calledExpress Entry to streamline permanent residency applications under the following programmes:
  • Skilled Worker Program;
  • Skilled Trades Program;
  • Canadian Experience Class.
In effect, Express Entry will become a required pre-application stage for these programmes, with the goal of creating a pool of pre-qualified applicants for permanent residency. Any prospective immigrant registered in the system could receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency in Canada, and Canadian provinces and territories will also be able to select candidates from the Express Entry pool under the Provincial Nominee Program and to meet local labour market needs.

Service improvements in 2014

CIC reports that processing times for online visa applications have declined over the past two years (from an average of 28 days as of September 2012 to 20 days as of October 2014), and that acceptance rates remain high. 82% of all study permit applications for Canada were approved in 2012, and, as the following table reflects, the acceptance rates for the top 10 source countries were at that level or higher in all cases except for India.
Acceptance rates for study permit applications from top source countries, 2012. Source: CIC
Along with an increasing emphasis on online applications and services, CIC aims to expand on this performance with a number of new service improvements introduced in 2014. Perhaps most notably, Canada has dramatically expanded the reach of its Visa Application Centres (VACs) this year, from a network of 60 sites in 2012 to 130 centres in 99 countries currently. Visa application centres provide services in local languages and accept applications for study permits, work permits, and visitor visas.


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