You might think of immigration as a one-off, if, dramatic process, in which an individual leaves his or her country of origin and in a span of several hours, lands, as a permanent resident, in a different one. In this model, there is (hopefully) extensive preparation, but the actual immigration is a relatively distinct event. Such was the case generations of immigrants, in the past and it remains the process for some immigrants today.
More and more, however, immigration is a gradual and extensive process. When you think about it, this development is logical. Extensive research indicates that an individual who already has strong connections to the society that she or he hopes to join will be well placed to succeed in it. These ties can take many forms: bonds of family or friendship; involvement in one’s community; and work or study in Canada. All these links, and, especially, working or studying in Canada, help develop English and/or French language skills, which in turn are key to thriving economically in Canada.
Thus, Canada has placed a heavier emphasis on “Canadian experience” in deciding who obtains permanent residence as an economic immigrant. In fact, one of the primary economic immigration programs is called “Canadian Experience Class” and is designed for people who have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada. Each of Canada’s provinces also has at least one immigration program that is designed for people who have already lived in their jurisdiction.
Each province has several such programs, depending on what type of experience the applicant has. Coming as a visitor, temporary worker, or student, for example, are all excellent ways to get one’s start in Canada, but often through different paths.
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has made international travel much more difficult. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel through the distribution of vaccines. In the meantime, however, Canada has faced a serious shortfall of immigrants, a shortage Canada neither anticipated nor wanted.
How then, does Canada ensure it still welcomes young and talented people to make its economy and population grow? In the face of one metaphorical door closing, Canada has decided to open another one further. Canada has done so by making an extra effort to facilitate the immigration of people who are already in Canada but on temporary status. Using Express Entry, an application processing system that is both intricate and flexible, Canada has been holding draws inviting people who fall into the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as these people are very likely to already be in Canada.
On Saturday, February 13, Canada issued 27,332 invitations to apply to permanent residence in Canada. Every one of these invitations was for the CEC. To give you a comparison, an average Express Entry draw round sees some 4,000 invitations issued and not limited to CEC. The lowest score for invitations to apply was 75, when it normally hovers around 430-450 for CEC-only draws. We see here a Canadian government that is cleverly and effectively using its policy tools to adapt its immigration policy, with tens of thousands of beneficiaries.
To be clear, Canada realizes that many of its future citizens are currently situated outside its borders. The government has made clear that it eagerly anticipates the point at which it can regularly welcome newcomers from all parts of the globe, as it did before. Even since COVID-19 hit, the government has not stopped issuing permanent residence invitations to many people outside the country, although recipients may need to patiently wait until the border resumes normal operations. What we see in the meantime, however, is a Canada that is like the people who choose it: responsive, resourceful, and innovative. This fact is something of which all Canadians, old, new, and future, can be proud.
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