CILA congratulates IRCC for achieving immigration target; hopes for greater transparency in 2022


The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) congratulates IRCC for achieving their goal of landing 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has confirmed it has met its ambitious permanent residents target and Canada has welcomed the most immigrants in a single year in its history.

As noted in its press release, IRCC was able to achieve the target by focusing on transitioning those in Canada during the pandemic to permanent residence. Prior to the pandemic, most of Canada’s new permanent residents landed from abroad.

IRCC deserves credit for landing 401,000 immigrants amid an extremely challenging operating environment. Despite the pandemic, the Canadian government has remained committed to immigration as a key tool to supporting Canada’s economic and social prosperity. The Canadian government’s desire to welcome the highest immigration targets in our country’s history will help to support Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Prior to the pandemic, most of Canada’s population and labour force growth came from immigration, and higher levels will increase immigration’s contributions to annual economic growth in the coming decades.

While CILA acknowledges the pandemic continues to pose major difficulties for IRCC, it wishes to use this opportunity to call on the department to strive even higher in 2022. Achieving the country’s immigration goals is a “Team Canada” effort and CILA strongly believes IRCC can do better in a variety of aspects, such as by consulting more widely with the public, being more transparent, and delivering a better client experience. As CILA continues to point out, there has been an erosion of dialogue and transparency from IRCC during the pandemic which has exacerbated challenges for the immigration system.

For example, IRCC entered 2021 with a plan to achieve its 401,000 immigration target by transitioning more temporary foreign workers (TFWs) and international students to permanent residence. This decision was made without consulting with stakeholders and experts such as economists and employers on the impacts of this policy shift. CILA stresses that it is important for federal and provincial governments to continue to provide adequate permanent residence pathways for all TFWs and students. However, as a result of IRCC’s 2021 plan, there have been negative immigration policy and economic consequences.

The decision has increased backlogs since IRCC has processed the applications of those overseas at a much slower pace, punishing those abroad through no fault of their own. Many immigration applicants continue to wait in limbo with little or no communication from IRCC. From an economic point of view, Canada has experienced the weakest population growth in over 100 years, and job vacancies are at an all-time high, both of which are due in part to IRCC’s decision to reduce overseas arrivals. Little has also come in the way of discussion on the potential economic and labour force impacts of, for instance, inviting a Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidate with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 75, as opposed to a Federal Skilled Worker Program candidate with a CRS of 470.

At the very least, IRCC could have demonstrated better faith to immigration hopefuls by advising them early in the year of the department’s intentions so that candidates could plan accordingly. For example, an Express Entry hopeful that completed a language test at the start of 2021 has now seen the validity period of their test cut in half. As another example, had they been equipped with more information at the start of the year, some immigration candidates may have opted to move to Canada as a TFW or as a student in order to pursue permanent residence from within the country.

Lack of consultation and transparency this year as IRCC sought to achieve its newcomer target also hurt candidates in other ways. In May, for instance, IRCC launched six temporary streams for up to 90,000 essential workers and international graduates to apply for permanent residence. Because little advanced notice was given prior to the launch of the streams, many applicants did not have an opportunity to book a mandatory language test before the streams opened, causing them to miss out on this immigration opportunity. In addition, IRCC released instructions on how to apply for the streams less than 24 hours before the streams went live, giving candidates little time to prepare. This was in spite of IRCC warning that candidates risked being rejected if they completed their applications incorrectly. To compound matters, IRCC did not allow immigration lawyers to apply on behalf of the clients that retained them, which undermined access to justice for those who wanted a trusted and experienced professional to support them during this defining life moment. In essence, IRCC forced some candidates to choose between taking the day off work and foregoing income rather than having a competent immigration lawyer to submit their application for them.

As a final regrettable example, despite IRCC’s promises to contact all pre-March 2020 Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders by October 2021, this has not been the case, resulting in COPR holders with expired documents continuing to wait in limbo overseas. These individuals have had their lives on hold for almost two years now as IRCC continues to neglect them.

IRCC has an opportunity to hit the reset button in 2022 as it seeks to land 411,000 immigrants. Greater dialogue and transparency from the department will help us all get through this crisis, and yield better outcomes for the country, department, economy, families, and newcomers themselves. CILA has released a variety of publications on ways IRCC can improve in 2022, including:


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