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Canada is closing door and kicking people out. Can the Century Initiative stick to its plan?

In October 2016, Canada stunned the world by announcing its ambition to grow its population of 36 million to 100 million through a series of immigration-friendly initiatives, the Century Initiative. This is one of the most ambitious migration policies of any nation at any time in human history. By then, Century Initiative claimed that “Our population growth is tied to our quality of life. If we have more people, we have a larger workforce and we create more economic activity.” In less than a decade time, things seem shifting around.

 

Record-breaking EE Score

On December 6, 2023, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score hit a historic high of 561 points, meaning that applicants with IELTS 8777 + Canadian master’s degree + 3 years of local work experience + 3 years of overseas work experience could just barely reach this score. (As of March 12, 2024, the latest CRS score for all categories is 525 points).

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Halting of spouse work permit

On January 22, 2024, Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced that the Canadian government would limit approvals for international student study permits and no longer issue work permits for spouses of undergraduate international students in order to stabilize growth within the next two years. By 2024, this cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a 35% decrease from 2023. Renewals, as well as graduate and postgraduate students, are not affected by this policy. As of the latest policy as of March 19, 2024, undergraduate students studying Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Education, and Engineering still qualify for open work permits for their spouses. Spouses of other undergraduate or college degree students are no longer eligible to apply for open work permits.

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Drop of international student permits

Despite acknowledgement of the fact that “International students enrich our communities and are a critical part of Canada’s social, cultural and economic fabric,” a news release earlier this year claimed that “the government is moving forward with measures to stabilize the number of international students in Canada.”

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Saskatchewan’s New Minimum Language Requirement

On March 14, 2024, the Saskatchewan Entrepreneur Immigration Program suddenly announced policy changes, including the addition of a requirement for language proficiency of CLB 5 or above. This also signifies the formal exit from the historical stage of the only immigration program in Canada without a language requirement! Specific policy changes also involve extending the business operation requirement from the previous 6 months to at least 12 months before submitting a provincial nomination application. All family members of the applicant are now required to reside within a 50km radius of the entrepreneurial business, which was not a requirement previously. Interviews have become mandatory, and translators are no longer allowed, whereas they were previously permitted.

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BCPNP’s tightening requirement

On March 19, 2024, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) issued a notice announcing changes to its policies effective January 2025. The era where graduates with master’s degrees in STEM fields could apply for permanent residency without needing to seek employment or take an English language test will come to an end by the end of 2024. Starting January 2025, graduates with master’s degrees in all disciplines in British Columbia will be required to secure a job offer for at least one year (employer-sponsored) and achieve a CLB level 8 (IELTS 6.5) to be eligible for the BC provincial nomination.

While many may assume that having three years of a work permit after graduating with a master’s degree should provide ample time to find employment, it’s crucial to consider individuals who completed their undergraduate/college studies in Canada and applied for the one-time post-graduation work permit. Due to insufficient immigration points, some of these individuals pursued PNP master’s degrees. What options do these individuals have now?

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Shortened LMIA Validity Period

On March 21, 2024, the Canadian Department of Employment and Social Development issued a notice regarding significant amendments: the validity period of Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) has been reduced from 12 months to 6 months. Additionally, the proportion of the total workforce admitted through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been reduced from 30% to 20%, with exceptions made for the construction and healthcare sectors. Minister of Immigration, Marco Mendicino, indicated that as of 2023, Canada hosted 2.5 million temporary residents, constituting 6.2% of the total population. The objective is to decrease this ratio to 5% over the forthcoming three years.

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In summary, there is a clear message in the recent announcements from immigration offices: Canada is getting stricter about who it lets in. It’s a surprise for many who were hearing about Canada’s big immigration plans not long ago. But in the first part of 2024, a lot of people who wanted to move to Canada got a reality check—they’re feeling worried and unsure about their chances.

 

Yet, the realities behind these developments are discernible. Pressured by inflation, continuously rising prices of goods and housing have stoked public discontent. Unemployment rates remain stubbornly high, prompting Canada to scrutinize international students and temporary residents. Local residents complain that international students and temporary residents are squeezing housing resources, driving up housing prices and rents.

 

Even seemingly mundane positions, such as cashiers at LCBO, are besieged with applicants, and a restaurant advertising 20 job vacancies received an overwhelming 800 applications. With the current population of temporary residents already meeting the targets of Canada’s Million Immigration Plan, the forthcoming federal elections in October 2025 cast a shadow of uncertainty over whether Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent policy initiatives are influenced by electoral imperatives, aimed at assuaging public discontent and securing additional electoral support.

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For immigrating to Canada, there’s no longer much time for hesitation. If you’ve already started the process, hurry to complete it; if you haven’t started yet, find your opportunity now. Additionally, there’s another option! If your spouse or common-law partner happens to be a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, regardless of your current location, you can apply for Canadian permanent residency. None of the usual requirements such as language proficiency, education, specific fields of study, work experience, or income are needed… All that’s required is to prove the authenticity of your relationship. Once submitted, it takes 8-12 months to help your spouse and children obtain Canadian permanent residency status, offering the highest value for the lowest cost!

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