Newsletter – December 2017

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To make up for the lack of a newsletter in November, this edition of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Newsletter is a special double digest. We will resume the Newsletter’s bimonthly schedule in February 2018.

In this issue, we have:

Government of Canada announces historic, multi-year immigration levels plan

On November 1, the Government of Canada tabled the 2017 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, including the levels plan. The new plan sets out the highest levels of new permanent residents to be welcomed to Canada in recent history.

Under the plan, Canada will accept 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018. That number will grow to 330,000 in 2019 and to 340,000 in 2020, trending towards one percent of the population. By welcoming more newcomers, the plan aims to support Canada’s economic growth, drive innovation and address labour shortages across the country.

Of the 310,000 newcomers for 2018, the plan sets 60 percent of them to come to Canada for work. Increased levels also allow Canada to uphold humanitarian commitments by offering protection to refugees and creating the needed space to reduce backlogs and processing times for families sponsoring spouses, children, parents, grandparents and caregivers.

This multi-year plan will help IRCC better prepare for future admissions. It also reflects a continued commitment to ensuring that Canada’s immigration system is well-managed. Longer planning horizons and the gradual increase of immigrants allow the provinces and territories, as well as settlement and integration partners, to plan for the arrival of more newcomers.

In 2016, Canada welcomed 296,000 permanent residents – nearly 25,000 more than the previous year. The majority of newcomers came for work, but Canada also welcomed more than 62,000 resettled refugees, asylum seekers and people admitted on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, as well as some 78,000 newcomers who were sponsored by their families.

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New definition of age of dependants now in force

The Government of Canada has changed the definition of the age of dependants from “under 19” to “under 22,” allowing parents to sponsor or immigrate to Canada with their older children.

The change applies to all applications received by IRCC on or after October 24, 2017.

IRCC is also introducing a temporary public policy to allow more families to benefit from the expanded age of dependants. The public policy allows applicants with permanent residence applications that were in process on May 3, 2017, or whose applications were received between May 3, 2017, and October 23, 2017, to add their eligible children as dependants or to sponsor them later, depending on the status of their application.

Permanent residence applicants have until January 31, 2018, to notify IRCC of their intention to add or sponsor a dependant. They begin by first checking their child’s eligibility using our web tool. If they appear to qualify, parents are instructed to notify IRCC of their intention to add or sponsor their child by submitting a request using a special web form. After IRCC has been advised, they will contact applicants directly to tell them what they need to do to sponsor or add their children.

Changing the maximum age of dependants fulfills a key mandate commitment of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and reflects the global trend of children living at home longer. It also aligns with two of the main objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: to see families reunited in Canada and to support social and economic well-being of refugees through family reunification.

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IRCC concludes the Settlement Design Challenge

IRCC has wrapped up its Settlement Design Challenge, during which IRCC staff and students from OCAD University (formerly the Ontario College of Art and Design) sought out innovative ways to improve Canada’s settlement programs and services for newcomers.

The first challenge was to identify the “pain points.” They visited service provider organizations, interviewing clients to get better understandings of individuals’ experiences with the settlement program. Over a four-week period, data was collected from Vancouver, Toronto and Kingston. They also looked at the settlement services at ports of entry (places where people can lawfully enter the country) and met with Settlement Network officers.

Staff and students then began to analyze the data they collected, and identified themes and issues within the system and looked for ways that it could be improved.

After identifying specific issues and brainstorming possible solutions, IRCC staff and OCAD University students came up with eight ideas to improve Canada’s settlement program and presented them to IRCC senior management in the fall. These innovative ideas include suggestions like creating an online platform to allow newcomers and Canadians to exchange skills and tasks, giving newcomers a chance to participate in their community.

The new Settlement and Integration Sector in IRCC will be using the wealth of ideas from the design challenge to inform policy and test program innovations.

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Option to choose an unspecified gender added to all IRCC documents

On August 31, 2017, IRCC introduced interim measures for the implementation of an “X” gender designation in the sex field of passports and other IRCC documents, making it the first Government of Canada department to do so.

An “X” will make it easier for people who don’t identify as female (F) or male (M) to acquire passports and other government-issued documents that better reflect their gender identity. Implementation of the “X” designation will take time, as IRCC and other partner organizations must make significant changes to their IT systems and ensure the necessary policies, security, integrity and program measures are in place. IRCC continues to work with other government departments, provinces and territories to ensure this change is well coordinated and seamless.

Until IRCC can print an “X” in its documents, anyone requesting an “X” gender designation will receive an accompanying document, or an observation in their Canadian travel document, that states that “The sex of the bearer should read as ‘X’, indicating that it is unspecified.”

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Sharing the facts about Canada’s asylum system

The Government of Canada continues to address irregular migration to ensure our borders are safe and our immigration laws are respected. Here are some of the ways this is being done.

The Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Irregular Migration was established to address the influx of asylum seekers. Through a collaborative approach between the Government of Canada and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the Task Force is looking at ongoing challenges and exploring strategies to better address the situation.

Progress has been made to speed up processing asylum claimants at the border. Existing resources were moved to key locations to help determine people’s eligibility to make an asylum claim. As a result, daily processing output at the Montréal IRCC office has tripled.

Since expanding operations to Montréal, eligibility interviews are now scheduled within days, rather than weeks or months. More work is also being done by the Domestic Network at IRCC to further streamline processes at the border.

For all asylum claimants in Canada, IRCC has implemented a new service standard of 30 days for work permit applications to relieve pressure on the social assistance budgets of provinces.

As well, the Government of Canada is reaching out to communities through social media – Twitter and Facebook – in both Canada and the U.S. to provide accurate information and dispel myths about the Canadian asylum system. Canadian MPs, including Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, have also met with Haitian and Central American communities in the U.S. to talk about immigrating to Canada.

Information sessions have been held in Canada and emails sent to Haitian and Central American community intermediaries to share facts about Canada’s asylum system.

The Government of Canada continues to protect the integrity of the Canadian immigration system and make progress in speeding up asylum claims at the border.

Associated links

Did you know…?

When applying for an electronic travel authorization (eTA), you don’t need to use a third-party website. You can apply easily in a few minutes for only $7 CAD.

A new Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is available for private sponsors interested in sponsoring refugees abroad. The guide is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

In 2016, Canada welcomed 19 percent more permanent residents in the family class than 2015, meaning Canada is reuniting families faster.

There were 48 citizenship ceremonies during Citizenship Week (October 9 to 15, 2017), where more than 4,000 people became Canadian citizens. Citizenship ceremonies are open to the public; consider attending one near you! Attend one near you.

Canada is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourism in general and international students in particular. Those who came to Canada temporarily in 2016 added $32.2 billion to our economy.

IRCC feature video

The IRCC video team produces informative and creative videos on a wide range of subjects of interest to Canadians and our clients. In each issue of our newsletter, we highlight one of their productions.

In this issue, we bring you the video A New Life in Canada.


Follow a chef, a builder, a scholar and their families as they tell their stories of fleeing the conflict in Syria and starting their new lives in Canada.

Upcoming events and important dates

Mark your calendar! Below is a selection of upcoming special events and national celebrations.

December 18 is International Migrants Day. Find out how Canada is making a commitment to act on the global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration.

December 20 is International Human Solidarity Day—a day to commemorate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and remind governments of the importance of their commitment to support human solidarity.

December 31 is the 160th anniversary of Ottawa named as the capital of Canada. Queen Victoria declared Ottawa the capital in 1857.

On January 11, celebrate Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, by learning more about this Father of Confederation and exploring an online interactive exhibit dedicated to him.

January 21 is Lincoln Alexander Day, in honour of the first Black Canadian Member of Parliament (June 25, 1968). Alexander was also the first visible minority to be appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1985. Learn more about Lincoln Alexander.

January 27 marks the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Learn more about Holocaust Remembrance.

January 28 marks 101 years since (most) women in Manitoba won the right to vote. Learn more about the suffragette movement in Canada.


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