Measures To Address Canada’s Labour Shortage
St. JOHN’S: Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has announced that Express Entry draws will soon resume and that invitations for candidates to apply for permanent residence will begin in early July.
Minister Fraser also announced a new temporary policy that will give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status an opportunity to stay in Canada longer, so that they can continue to gain work experience and have a better chance at qualifying for permanent residency. Starting in summer 2022, former international students who are in Canada and have a post-graduation work permit expiring between January and December 2022 will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months. Also being explored is a simplified, expeditious process for this policy.
These talented and skilled international graduates play a vital role in addressing our labour shortage, and those nearing the end of their post-graduation work permit are already well-integrated into Canada’s labour market and work in key industries across the country. Tens of thousands are able to successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including more than 157,000 former students who became permanent residents in 2021, with more than 88,000 of them transitioning directly from a post-graduation work permit to permanent status.
This additional open work permit will allow applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy, helping address our labour shortage while gaining valuable work experience and preparing their Express Entry profiles.
Employers are actively looking to fill hundreds of thousands of vacant positions in all sectors across the country. Immigration is more important than ever to fuel Canada’s economy, as our strong economic growth is now outpacing our ability to find and keep workers. Canada is a top destination for global talent. We need to use this fact to ensure that businesses and employers have access to the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.
Travel restrictions throughout most of 2020 and 2021 delayed the processing of overseas applications, which led to an increase in the size of the processing inventory. To manage this inventory, we temporarily paused invitations to apply under the federal high-skilled streams, including the Canadian experience class, federal skilled worker class and federal skilled trades class. Invitations to apply will resume in early July, and the vast majority of new applications will be processed within the 6-month service standard.
As a result of the temporary pause, the federal high-skilled processing inventory has been cut by more than half, decreasing from approximately 111,900 people in September 2021 to just 48,000 people by March 2022. This inventory will be further reduced by July 2022, allowing us to return to the service standards that our clients expect.
To help bring even more skilled workers quickly to Canada, we have doubled the number of permanent residence decisions made in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same time period in 2021. From January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2022, we have made over 156,000 final decisions on permanent residence applications and, through these efforts, Canada welcomed over 113,000 new permanent residents in the first quarter of 2022.
More than 100,000 work permit applications were processes in the first quarter of 2022, nearly doubling the number processed over the same time period in 2021. Through another temporary public policy implemented in August 2020, foreign nationals in Canada as visitors have been able to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave Canada. Recognizing that those with visitor status in Canada may also wish to stay and find meaningful employment, this temporary public policy has been extended to February 28, 2023.
The Minister also announced new measures for those who applied for permanent residence through the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway last year. The limited-time pathway was launched in 2021 to invite a broad range of individuals already working in Canada to apply to stay permanently. While closed to new applications since November 2021, the processing of applications will continue for some time.
Taking effect this summer, the policy changes include:
• Applicants will no longer be required to remain in Canada while their application is being processed.
• Applicants who apply for an open work permit while waiting for their permanent residence application to be finalized will be able to get work permits valid until the end of 2024. This will ensure that all permanent residence applications will be finalized before applicants will need to apply to extend their temporary status again.
• To support family reunification, immediate family members who are outside Canada and who were included in a principal applicant’s permanent residence application will be eligible for their own open work permit.
These measures support the government’s broader effort to ensure Canadian employers have the workers they need while addressing our labour shortage, and build on Minister Qualtrough’s recent announcements on the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map.
Fraser said: “Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and labour needed to fuel our growth. Immigration will be crucial to easing our labour shortage, and these measures aim to address pressing needs in all sectors, while providing more opportunities for recent graduates and other applicants to build their lives in Canada.”
• Express Entry is Canada’s flagship application management system for those seeking to immigrate permanently through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian experience class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.
• About 95,000 post-graduation work permits expire between January 31 and December 31, 2022. Many former students have transitioned to permanent residence, applied for PR or applied for a different type of work permit. About 50,000 applicants could benefit from this measure.