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People from around the world apply to come to Canada as permanent residents. People also apply to come to Canada on a temporary basis to visit, study or work.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) handles large volumes of applications for both flows on CIC’s extensive processing network around the world and across the country. Managing this movement of people is always balanced with protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians. To fulfill its role of identifying applicants for permanent or temporary status who could pose security or health risks to Canadians, CIC works in partnership with departments of the Public Safety portfolio (Public Safety Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), as well as the Department of Justice and Health Canada. CIC also works in partnership with other countries to mitigate and protect Canada from international threats.
This section reports on the permanent resident admissions and temporary resident entries processed by CIC in 2011.
Permanent residents are persons who have not become Canadian citizens, but have been authorized to live and work in Canada indefinitely, provided that they continue to meet residency requirements and do not lose their status by reason of serious criminality, security, human rights violations, organized crime or misrepresentation. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) defines three basic categories of permanent residents: economic, family and protected persons.
In 2011, CIC’s global processing network successfully met its processing commitments for permanent residents by admitting 248,748 permanent residents to Canada, which was within the planned admission range of 240,000 to 265,000 in the 2011 immigration levels plan, as set out in the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2010.
Admissions of permanent residents in 2011
To meet the levels set out in the immigration levels plan, CIC balanced resource pressures related to high volumes of applications for temporary residence (temporary foreign workers, international students and visitors) and backlog reduction strategies for various immigration programs, while striving to maintain service standards.
Table 2 provides a more detailed breakdown of the 2011 admissions by immigration category and allows for a comparison with the 2012 admission ranges. More statistical information on admissions in 2011 can be found in CIC’s Facts and Figures 2011.
|Immigrant Category||2011 Plan Admission Ranges||Number Admitted
|2012 Plan Admission Ranges|
|Federal Skilled Workers||47,000||47,400||57,296||55,000||57,000|
|Canadian Experience Class||6,000||7,000||6,027||6,000||7,000|
|Quebec-selected Skilled Workers||32,800||33,900||31,490||31,000||34,000|
|Provincial and Territorial Nominees||42,000||45,000||38,420||42,000||45,000|
|Subtotal: Principal Applicants||64,356|
|Subtotal: Spouses and Dependants||91,765|
|Total Economic Class||150,600||161,300||156,121||150,000||161,000|
|Spouses, Partners and Children||45,500||48,000||42,368||38,000||44,000|
|Parents and Grandparents||13,000||17,500||14,078||21,800||25,000|
|Total Family Class||58,500||65,500||56,446||59,800||69,000|
|Privately Sponsored Refugees||3,800||6,000||5,582||4,000||6,000|
|Protected Persons in Canada (PPiC)||8,200||10,500||10,743||7,000||8,500|
|Dependants Abroad of PPiC||3,800||4,500||4,183||4,000||4,500|
|Total Protected Persons||23,200||29,000||27,872||22,500||27,000|
|Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds/Public Policy||7,000||9,000||8,218||7,600||7,800|
|Category Not Stated||—||—||3||—||—|
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2011.
While 2011 had lower overall admissions than that of 2010, which reached 280,691 admissions, it is important to note that a combination of unique factors created a high watermark year for admissions in 2010. In the context of the last five years, the overall 2011 admissions were closer to the average of 250,000 admissions per year. The proportions among the economic, family and protected persons categories is comparable to previous years, with a slightly higher proportion in the economic category. In 2011, 62.8 percent of admissions were economic immigrants (along with their spouse/partner and dependants), 22.7 percent were in the family reunification category, and 14.5 percent were protected persons and other immigrants.
Highlights of Economic Class admissions in 2011
The Economic Class includes skilled workers (federal-selected and Quebec-selected), business immigrants (federal-selected and Quebec-selected), provincial and territorial nominees, the Canadian Experience Class, and live-in caregivers, as well as these applicants’ spouses/partners and dependants. In 2011, 156,121 permanent residents in the economic category were admitted to Canada, which is within the planned admission range of 150,600 to 161,300. Also, CIC issued 166,139 visas (for overseas applicants) and authorizations (for applicants already in Canada) for permanent residency in this category in 2011; a portion of these successful applicants for immigration arrived in Canada in 2011 or 2012.
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program is the Government of Canada’s flagship program for selecting foreign skilled workers. Selection is based on a points system, which assesses education, age, work experience, official language proficiency, pre-arranged employment in Canada and adaptability. Of note, there were 57,296 FSW admissions in 2011, which is almost 21 percent above the planned range of 47,000–47,400. With respect to processing times, CIC processed 88 percent of FSW applications received since June 26, 2010, within 12 months, which adhered to the FSW service standard of processing at least 80 percent of those FSW applications in 12 months. CIC continued to manage the intake of new applications through the third set of Ministerial Instructions and reduced the FSW backlog significantly. By the end of 2011, the FSW backlog (applications received before February 27, 2008) was reduced by more than 52 percent to around 302,400 persons, from a high of over 640,000 persons.
CIC continued to review the FSW Program to ensure that it attracts the right skills for Canada’s future labour force. In 2011, CIC held five regional stakeholder meetings and conducted on-line public consultations to ask Canadians to consider options for revising the points grid for FSW selection, including a proposed minimum language proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, and increased points for younger applicants and those with higher levels of language proficiency. CIC also launched a new eligibility stream for international students pursuing doctoral studies under the fourth set of Ministerial Instructions.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) provides provinces and territories with a mechanism to respond to their particular economic needs, by allowing them to nominate individuals who will meet specific local labour market demands. In addition, the PNP was designed to spread the benefits of immigration across Canada by promoting immigration to areas that are not traditional immigrant destinations. It is currently the second-largest economic immigration program after the FSW Program, and the number of PNP nominees continues to increase. In 2011, Canada admitted a record number of admissions under the PNP with 38,420 persons settling across Canada. With respect to processing times, there were delays in meeting the 11-month service standard for PNP applications in 2011, due in part to large volumes of older applications concentrated at a few overseas visa offices. CIC is continuing to modernize its application processing and improve efficiency by spreading the work across its global processing network.
CIC conducted an evaluation of the PNP in 2011, which found the program was working well, although there are differences in economic outcomes of immigrants depending on province or territory, and depending on sub-streams within the program. Areas requiring improvement include some aspects of program design, delivery and accountability, such as minimum language standards. CIC is working with provinces and territories to strengthen the PNP to ensure it continues to foster economic growth across the country. Work with provinces and territories to address these issues is under way following Budget 2012.
CIC’s Federal Business Immigration Program includes three streams: entrepreneurs, self-employed persons and immigrant investors. This program is intended to attract experienced business people who will contribute to national and regional economic development. The immigrant investor stream requires candidates to make a one-time investment in the Canadian economy in the form of a five-year, zero-interest loan to the Government of Canada, which is allocated to participating provinces and territories to fund economic development and job creation initiatives in their region. In 2011 alone, over $504.4 million was allocated to participating provinces under the Federal Immigrant Investor Program.
On July 1, 2011, the third set of Ministerial Instructions introduced an annual cap of 700 for new applications for the immigrant investor stream to stem the growth of the backlog as program demand continues to outpace capacity to process. The third set of Ministerial Instructions also introduced a temporary pause on the intake of new applications in the entrepreneur stream while CIC continued to review and redesign these streams of the Business Immigration Program. Admissions in the Business Immigration Program continued in 2011, as CIC processed applications already received in order to draw down the backlog.
The self-employed persons stream continues to provide a pathway to permanent residence for individuals who are able to make a significant contribution to the Canadian economy in athletics, arts, cultural activities and farm management.
Highlights of family reunification admissions in 2011
Family reunification is a key objective of IRPA. To facilitate the reunification of families, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor spouses or partners, dependent children, parents, grandparents and other close relatives to become permanent residents as Family Class immigrants. Sponsors must undertake to provide for the basic requirements of the sponsored person and his or her family members for a specified period of time. Sponsors of parents and grandparents and some other relatives must also meet a minimum income test.
In 2011, 56,446 permanent residents in the Family Class were admitted to Canada, which is slightly below the planned admission range of 58,500 to 65,500. CIC also issued 59,670 visas and authorizations for permanent residency in the Family Class; some of these successful applicants for immigration arrived in Canada in 2011, and some will arrive in 2012.
In 2011, CIC admitted 42,368 spouses, partners and children as permanent residents, which is a little below the planned admission range of 45,500 to 48,000. Because this immigration stream is a ‘non-discretionary’ stream, where CIC processes applications as they are received, the lower volume of admissions is directly attributable to a lower than expected volume of applications received. Processing times were slightly below the service standard of processing at least 80 percent of these applications in 12 months; CIC processed 72 percent of spouses, partners and children applications in 12 months.
Factors that affected processing included the transition of CIC’s worldwide and in-Canada processing network to the Global Case Management System, the new application processing platform for all CIC offices. In addition, CIC launched the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification at the end of 2011 to reduce the backlog for the parents and grandparents category over the coming years. Although this temporarily increased the workload in the parents and grandparents category, the ultimate goal of the action plan aims to lessen the accumulation of inventories in this category through program redesign.
A regulatory change relating to family sponsorship came into force at the end of 2011. Sponsors convicted of crimes that resulted in bodily harm against members of their family, or convicted of other particularly violent offences, are generally not allowed to sponsor any Family Class member to come to Canada for five years following the completion of their sentence. Previously, a sponsorship application would not have been approved if the sponsor had been convicted of a crime resulting in bodily harm against a narrower list of family members or relatives. The regulatory change expanded the list of relatives who would be considered under the family violence bar of sponsorship, and added provisions extending the bar to apply to those convicted of other violent offences.
Highlights of protected persons admissions in 2011
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were about 10.5 million refugees in the world at the beginning of 2011, many of whom have been living in exile for decades. By offering protection to refugees and persons in need of protection, and through active participation in international forums on refugee protection, CIC plays a significant role in upholding Canada’s international obligations and humanitarian tradition.
There are three main categories of protected persons: government-assisted refugees, privately sponsored refugees and persons who received protected person status in Canada as a result of a positive asylum claim.
Despite CIC visa offices being affected by instability and heightened security concerns in some parts of Africa, 12,946 refugees were resettled in Canada in 2011. This is within the combined 2011 planned admission ranges for government-assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees of 11,200 to 14,000. This was the third year in a row that Canada admitted over 12,000 refugees, and CIC continued its commitments since 2010 under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act to increase the annual number of refugees resettled from abroad to as many as 14,500 refugees by 2013.
In particular, in 2011, Canada resettled 1,875 Bhutanese refugees and 4,545 Iraqi refugees in support of Canada’s commitment to resettle 5,000 Bhutanese out of Nepal between 2008 and 2012, and 20,000 Iraqis between 2009 and 2013.
The uprisings in the Middle East that began in December 2010 have had a significant impact on the Department’s operations both in Canada and internationally beginning in 2011. CIC personnel have been greatly affected by the upheavals, as visa operations in Tripoli, Tunis and Cairo were temporarily suspended and several officers evacuated at the height of the turmoil as the security situation deteriorated. CIC officers were called upon to assist with consular and Canadian government evacuation operations for Canadian citizens (including non-Canadian spouses and children). The most significant impact has been the forced closure of the Embassy of Canada in Damascus, Syria, on January 31, 2012, due to security concerns. The closure of Damascus, responsible for the largest overseas refugee program and the regional headquarters for immigration services, particularly challenged CIC’s ability to deliver its services in the Middle East in 2012 and beyond. This closure resulted in the expansion of CIC’s other visa offices in the region and the redistribution of workload and responsibilities.
Highlights of admissions under humanitarian and compassionate grounds and public policy in 2011
IRPA gives CIC’s Minister the authority to consider the circumstances of and grant permanent resident status to individuals and their families who would not otherwise qualify in any immigration program. These are discretionary provisions for humanitarian and compassionate considerations or for public policy reasons, to provide the flexibility to approve deserving cases not anticipated in the legislation.
In 2011, a total of 8,218 people were admitted into Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or for public policy reasons, which is within the planned admission range of 7,000 to 9,000.
To reduce the backlog of applications under consideration for humanitarian and compassionate grounds, CIC created backlog reduction offices in spring 2011 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act to manage these applications across the entire network of immigration offices in Canada and improve consistency in processing times.
Under public policy, the Minister for CIC has adopted special measures since 2009 to facilitate immigration to Canada for certain Afghan nationals who provided direct support to the Canadian mission in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. In 2011, 198 persons were resettled to Canada under these measures, over and above those resettled under the Government-Assisted Refugee and Privately Sponsored Refugee Programs. These individuals received resettlement services similar to what is currently offered to government-assisted refugees.
Admissions of permanent residents by knowledge of official language in 2011
Of the permanent residents admitted in 2011, 75.2 percent self-identified as having knowledge of English, French or both official languages, which is a modest increase from 73.4 percent in 2010.
For economic immigrant principal applicants, 91 percent self-identified as having knowledge of at least one of the official languages in 2011, which is comparable to 90.9 percent in 2010.
|Economic Immigrants—Principal Applicants||40,685||3,570||14,334||5,767||64,356|
|Economic Immigrants—Spouses and Dependants||46,883||5,238||7,121||32,523||91,765|
|Category Not Stated||2||1||0||0||3|
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2011.
Admissions of permanent residents by top 10 source country in 2011
Canada’s immigration program is based on non-discriminatory principles, where foreign nationals are assessed without regard to race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion or gender. Canada receives its immigrant population from over 200 countries of origin.
As indicated in Table 4, 54.0 percent of new permanent residents admitted in 2011 came from the top 10 source countries, which is comparable to last year, where 52.7 percent of new permanent residents came from the top 10 source countries. The top 10 countries in 2011 are similar to 2010, with the Philippines, People’s Republic of China and India remaining as the top three source countries in both years.
|2||People’s Republic of China||28,696||11.5%|
|4||United States of America||8,829||3.5%|
|6||United Kingdom and Colonies||6,550||2.6%|
|10||United Arab Emirates||5,223||2.1%|
|Total Top 10||134,242||54.0%|
|All Other Source Countries||114,506||46.0%|
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2011.
In addition to selecting permanent residents, CIC also processes applications for the temporary entry of:
- foreign workers, important to Canada’s economic growth;
- international students, attracted by the quality and diversity of Canada’s educational system; and
- visitors, who come to Canada for personal or business travel.
These temporary residents contribute to Canada’s economic development by filling gaps in the labour market, enhancing trade, purchasing goods and services, and increasing cultural and people-to-people links.
CIC’s global processing network handles both permanent and temporary resident applications. While CIC plans admission ranges for permanent residents, temporary applications are processed according to demand and application in-flows are not capped.
As shown in Table 5, CIC processed applications for and admitted almost 290,000 new temporary foreign workers and international students in 2011, which is 5.4 percent higher than in 2010, with increases in both temporary foreign workers and international students.
|Category||Number Admitted in 2010||Number Admitted in 2011|
|Temporary Foreign Workers||179,179||190,842|
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2011.
Temporary foreign workers
CIC facilitates the temporary entry of foreign workers needed to address labour market shortages and to provide other economic opportunities for Canadians, such as job creation and the transfer of new skills and knowledge. Temporary foreign workers help meet acute and short-term needs in the labour market that could not easily be filled by the domestic labour force.
In response to labour market demand, and further to the Government of Canada’s commitment to making improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to respond to employer needs, Canada welcomed 190,842 temporary foreign workers in 2011. This is a sizable increase of 6.5 percent from 2010 (179,179), consistent with the improvements in the economy after the recent recession.
In April 2011, CIC adopted new regulations to protect temporary foreign workers. There are three major elements: a more rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the job offer; a two-year period of ineligibility for hiring temporary foreign workers for employers who fail to meet their commitments with respect to wages, working conditions and occupation; and a four-year limit on the length of time some temporary foreign workers may work in Canada before returning home. These changes are the most significant improvements to the program in many years.
In October 2011, CIC and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada held consultations on the hiring of temporary foreign workers to make sure that the program is more responsive to labour market needs.
The Live-in Caregiver Program allows Canadian families to hire temporary workers from abroad to provide live-in home care to a child, an elderly person or an adult with disabilities when there is a demonstrated shortage of workers already in Canada who are able to fill available positions. Caregivers first come to Canada on a temporary basis, and they become eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada after working for two years as a live-in caregiver. CIC processed 83 percent of temporary resident work permit applications for live-in caregivers within the service standard of one year and four months.
In December 2011, CIC made an administrative change to enable temporary resident live-in caregivers to obtain open work permits sooner, after fulfilling the two-year work requirement and on submission of their application for permanent residence. Open work permits allow flexibility in employment and supports the caregivers’ establishment in Canada as they wait for the processing of their permanent residence application. Before this change, live-in caregivers were eligible for their open work permit only after receiving initial approval of their application for permanent residence.
International students bring with them new ideas and cultures that enrich the learning environment within Canadian educational institutions. International students who enter Canada on temporary resident visas are also an important source of easily integrated immigrants after several years in Canadian schools since they are well prepared for the Canadian labour market. The number of foreign students entering Canada in 2011 was 98,383, a modest rise of 3.3 percent from the previous year’s total of 95,248.
In collaboration with its partners, CIC continued to successfully deliver key initiatives to help Canada maintain its competitive edge in attracting and retaining international students. Important vehicles for accomplishing this include the off-campus work permit, which allows certain international students to seek employment off campus, and the post-graduation work permit, which allows graduates from participating post-secondary institutions to gain valuable Canadian experience for up to three years. In 2011, CIC issued 28,479 off-campus permits and extensions, and 21,275 post-graduation permits and extensions, which are increases from 2010, demonstrating the success of these permits for international students. With respect to processing times, CIC processed all applications for off-campus work permits in four months, which exceeded the service standard of 80 percent of applications in four months. For new study permits applications from overseas, CIC processed 90 percent of applications in two months, which exceeded the service standard of 80 percent of applications in two months. For extensions to study permits submitted from within Canada, CIC processed 97 percent of applications in four months, which exceeded the service standard of 80 percent of applications in four months.
Tourists and business visitors
Tourists contribute to the economy by creating a demand for services in the hospitality sector, and business visitors allow Canadian businesses to benefit from their specialized expertise and international links. Under IRPA, all foreign nationals wishing to visit Canada must have a temporary resident visa before arriving in Canada unless they are from countries specifically exempted in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or benefit from certain other limited exceptions, for example, being accredited diplomats in Canada.
As of October 1, 2012, citizens from 152 countries and territories require temporary resident visas to visit Canada. In 2011, CIC processed applications (new and extensions) from over one million persons seeking temporary resident visas as tourists and business visitors to Canada. Moreover, CIC was successful in promoting the use of the multiple entry visas, which are valid for up to 10 years and thus allow applicants from visa-required countries to travel to Canada more frequently and on their own schedules. The service standard for visitor visas outside Canada is two weeks, and in 2011, CIC processed 77 percent within this standard.
Temporary resident permits
Subsection 24(1) of IRPA authorizes designated officers of CIC and the Canada Border Services Agency to issue temporary resident permits (TRPs) to foreign nationals who they believe are inadmissible or who do not meet the requirements of the Act. Foreign nationals are considered inadmissible—that is, barred from entering or remaining in Canada—on grounds such as national security, violation of human rights, criminality, organized crime, health, financial reasons, and misrepresentation. These permits are issued when there are justified reasons to admit an otherwise inadmissible individual into Canada. In exercising their discretion, designated officers must take into consideration any instructions issued by the Minister under subsection 24(3) of the Act, which stipulates that officers shall act in accordance with any instructions that the Minister may make and weigh the risk to Canada against the reason(s) for permitting temporary residence. TRPs are issued for a limited period of time and are subject to cancellation at any time. They provide flexibility to address exceptional circumstances and can be used to further Canada’s national and international objectives.
CIC continues to make an important contribution to the Government of Canada’s multi-faceted efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Since May 2006, immigration officers have been authorized to issue TRPs to foreign nationals who may be victims of this crime, so that they have a period of time to remain in Canada and consider their options. In 2011, 53 TRPs were issued to 48 victims of trafficking. This figure includes subsequent permits issued to the same victim to maintain legal status in Canada.
In 2011, a total of 53 visas were issued under the public policy authority provided in IRPA s. 25.2(1) that exempts certain foreign nationals from the inadmissibility provisions to facilitate their temporary entry. This public policy has been in place since September 2010 to advance Canada’s national interests while continuing to ensure the safety of Canadians.
Table 6 indicates the number of TRPs issued in 2011, categorized according to grounds of inadmissibility under the IRPA. In 2011, 11,526 permits were issued, with 844 representing permits issued to foreign nationals who continued to maintain their status as permit holders from within Canada. Of the total, 82 TRPs were issued under instruction of the Minister. The authority to issue TRPs is shared between designated CIC officials and Canada Border Services Agency officers working at ports of entry.
|Description of Inadmissibility||Provision under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act||Number of Permits in 2011|
|Security (espionage, subversion, terrorism)||34(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f)||37|
|Human or International Rights Violations||35(1)(a), (b) and (c)||14|
|Serious Criminality (convicted of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least 10 years)||36(1)(a), (b) and (c)||899|
|Criminality (convicted of a criminal act or of an offence prosecuted either summarily or by way of indictment)||36(2)(a), (b), (c) and (d)||6,227|
|Organized Criminality||37(1)(a) or (b)||7|
|Health Grounds (danger to public health or public safety, excessive burden)||38(1)(a), (b) and (c)||97|
|Financial Reasons (unwilling or unable to support themselves or their dependants)||39||33|
|Misrepresentation||40(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d)||11|
|Non-compliance with Act or Regulations (e.g., no passport, no visa, work/study without permit, medical/criminal check to be completed in Canada, not examined on entry)||41(a) and (b)||3,932|
|Inadmissible Family Member||42(a) and (b)||161|
|No Return Without Prescribed Authorization||52(1)||108|
Source: Field Operations Support System, as of January 2, 2012.