The Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made a major announcement on the expected changes to some of the immigration regulations. The proposed changes are expected to involve various immigration programs and were recently published in the Forward Regulatory Plan 2016-2018.
The Forward Plan is not responsible for implementing changes, however, it is meant to outline proposed changes or actions that the IRCC intends to implement in the next two years. A summary of the proposed changes is as follows:
Changes to the definition of a dependent child
IRCC intends to increase the maximum age of a dependent child intending to accompany the main applicant on an application. Presently, unmarried children under the age of 19 can be included in the application. The aim is to enable more immigrants to bring along their children and reduce the need for multiple applications within a family. No particular age has been suggested in the proposed changes.
Changes to Conditional Permanent Residence for New Sponsored Spouses
Currently, sponsored spouses who have been married for less than two years or who have no children with their spouse at the time of application are given conditional permanent residence. As a result, they are required to live with their spouse for two years after arriving in Canada to maintain their permanent residence status. While there are no specific changes that have been proposed in the Forward Regulatory Plan, the IRCC states that the proposal to change this rule comes due to increased concerns on the effect it has on vulnerable spouses.
Changes to Support Changes to the Citizenship Act
Following the commitments from the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party of Canada to amend the Citizenship Act, the Forward Regulatory Plan intends to develop proposals to amend the citizen regulations to support changes to the citizenship Act.
Repeal of Live-In Caregiver Program
The Canadian government on 30 November 2014, announced the suspension of the live-in caregiver program, and that two new programs- the Caring for Children Class, and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class will take its place instead. The replacement programs still provide a pathway to permanent residence. Meanwhile, those individuals living in Canada under the live-in Caregiver Program may maintain their eligibility for permanent residence, if their initial Live-in Care Giver work permit was based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that was requested on or before 30 November 2014.
Changes to Business Immigration Program
After the removal of the Federal Immigration Investor and Entrepreneur Programs in 2014, the Forward Regulatory Plan, states that a regulatory proposal will be developed to remove these programs from the Immigration, Refugee Protection Regulation (IRPR).
Changes to the International Mobility Program
The International Mobility Program (IMP), is a temporary foreign worker program under the IRCC, it is independent from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program under the Employment and Social Development Canada. Its main aim is to effectively run the entry of LMIA-exempt foreign nationals in order to respond to Canada’s labor needs and advance national economic and cultural interests.
The Forward Regulatory Plan intends to propose changes to the IMP to remove diplomatic missions and other international organizations from employer compliance criteria. The aim is to enable easy mobility between countries and ensure compliance with international agreements of which Canada is a part of.
Changes to support the Expansion of Eligibility for the Electronic Travel Authorisation
In 2015, an announcement was made that certain categories of low-risk travelers from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania, countries whose Citizens need Temporary Travel Visas (TRV) to enter Canada, would be exempted from this requirement. Regulatory changes are required to allow citizens of these three countries who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years, or who have a valid United States non-immigrant visa to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) instead of a TRV to travel to Canada by air.
The Forward Regulatory Plan also wants changes implemented to the information sharing policy with the United States to allow new immigration information to be shared for confirmation and validity of a visa.
Changes to Support the Expansion of Biometrics
A few changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are required, in order to associate legislative changes to the IRPA that allows for the expansion of Biometrics.
Changes to Support Five Country Conference Information Sharing
The aim is to improve and support information sharing between the immigration authorities of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Amendments will be implemented to the IRPA to determine the aim of immigration information sharing, e.g. what may be shared, whose information may be shared, and how it may be shared.
Changes to Support Further Enhancements to the In-Canada Asylum System
The Forward Regulatory Plan states that changes to the IRPR will be needed to support improvement to the In-Canada Asylum System. These improvements are still being developed, and no definite changes were proposed in these objectives.
Changes to Support the Electronic Administration/Processing of Applications under the Immigration Refugee Protection Act
The following changes were made in 2015 to improve the use of Electronic Processing Systems, the Forward Regulatory Plan intends for the changes to enable the IRCC and other authorities to use electronic tools and systems, including automated processing systems.
IRCC intends to make regulations that will:
- Specify details regarding the technology and systems to be used and matters relating to that system.
- Require the use of an electronic system, and to specify exceptions on that requirement e.g. in cases of disability.
- State circumstances when the Minister may direct the use of alternative means of the electronic system.
- Specify where a non-electronic application or other documents can be sent.
What the Forward Regulatory Plan means
Government departments regularly release Forward Regulatory Plans, to provide their planned changes and actions. The releases to the public are aimed to provide information so as stakeholders can plan for the future accordingly.