ARCHIVED – Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, 2009

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Managing Permanent and Temporary Immigration

CIC maintains a balanced immigration program that responds to Canada’s labour market needs while fostering family reunification and honouring Canada’s humanitarian commitments and tradition and protecting the health, safety, and security of Canadians. Canada’s immigration program is based on non-discriminatory principles—foreign nationals are assessed without regard to race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion or gender.

In 2008, CIC continued to fulfil its role of identifying applicants for permanent or temporary status who could pose security or health risks to Canadians. To this end, CIC worked in partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Department of Justice, and Health Canada. For example, as the lead organization, CIC worked in partnership with the CBSA and the RCMP toward the implementation of biometrics in the Temporary Resident Program [note 2] to reduce identity fraud and enhance the safety and security of Canadians. In addition, CIC conducted approximately 500,000 immigration medical examinations in 2008. Of those, more than 1,000 applicants were found inadmissible on health grounds and more than 11,800 applicants were referred to provincial or territorial public health services for medical surveillance upon arrival to Canada.

Permanent residents

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act defines three basic classes of permanent residents: economic, family, and protected persons. Permanent residents are persons who have not become Canadian citizens, but have been authorized to live and work in Canada indefinitely, provided that they meet residency requirements and do not lose their status by reason of serious criminality, security, human rights violations, organized crime or misrepresentation.

Bill C-50, the Budget Implementation Act, which became law on June 18, 2008, contained important measures to modernize the immigration program. These measures included new funding of $109 million over five years and amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to remove the obligation to process all applications received—with the exception of refugee applications and humanitarian and compassionate applications submitted within Canada. The amendments also provide the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada with the authority to issue instructions directing visa officers to process, on a priority basis, those applications that best support the Government of Canada’s goals for immigration. Together, these amendments provide tools to reduce the backlog of federal skilled worker applications received prior to February 28, 2008, and to improve labour market responsiveness.

In April 2008, following the introduction of Bill C-50, the Government of Canada announced principles to guide the development of Ministerial Instructions. These principles responded to concerns regarding the Government’s intent in undertaking amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in the context of the Budget Implementation Act and, more specifically, committed the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to abide by certain conditions when exercising the new authority to issue instructions. The principles state that Ministerial Instructions will:

  • Identify priority occupations based on input from provinces and territories, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), employers, and organized labour.
  • Ensure fairness by making decisions on cases faster, while meeting immediate labour market needs.
  • Respect the goals of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which are to support Canada’s economy and competitiveness, support family reunification, and uphold Canada’s humanitarian commitments.
  • Comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which prevents discrimination based on factors such as race, country of origin, and religion.
  • Respect commitments to provinces and territories regarding the Provincial Nominee Program and the Canada–Quebec Accord.
  • Complement commitments made in Advantage Canada, the Government of Canada’s economic plan to align the immigration system with labour market needs.
  • Be published in the Canada Gazette and Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s annual report, which is tabled in Parliament.

In the summer of 2008, the Department initiated extensive consultations with the provinces and territories (with the exception of Quebec, since under the Canada–Quebec Accord, Quebec has sole discretion for selection of economic immigrants), federal partners, key stakeholders, and the public. These consultations aimed to confirm the effect of national level labour market pressures on local and sectoral labour markets and identify other critical occupational shortages; explore the role of immigration in responding to these pressures and any barriers to foreign credential recognition; and discuss with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders the 2009 Immigration Levels Plan. Key activities that formed part of these consultations included:

  • Discussions with provincial and territorial government officials;
  • Round tables with almost 200 stakeholders representing business, labour, academia and nongovernmental and service-provider organizations;
  • Online submissions from over 500 individuals to a CIC Web-consultation site; and
  • Assessment of the current status of foreign credential recognition processes in Canada.

The results of these consultations were the subject of a full discussion at the September 5, 2008, meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Immigration, chaired by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Ultimately, these consultations provided information for the creation of the content of the first set of Ministerial Instructions, [note 3] announced and published in the Canada Gazette [note 4] as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Faster Immigration [note 5] launched on November 28, 2008.

Nearly six months after the publication of Ministerial Instructions and the Action Plan for Faster Immigration, early results indicate that key objectives are being met.

  • As of June 2009, the number of people in the backlog of federal skilled workers—those who submitted applications prior to February 28, 2008—had been reduced by 29%; while the total federal skilled worker inventory—those received both before and after February 28, 2008—had been reduced by 5%. The Department now has the legislative authority to limit the intake of new applications should the risk of new backlogs emerge.
  • While the Department continues to issue visas for applications in the federal skilled worker stream received prior to February 28, 2008, a growing number of federal skilled worker applications meeting labour market needs identified in the Instructions are being processed as well. As of June 30, 2009, over 2,800 visas were issued for applications received after February 27, 2008.
  • Centralization of the intake of federal skilled worker applications has resulted in clients getting an initial indication of the status of their application more quickly and has increased efficiency in data collection and fee handling. Work continues toward meeting the goal of processing new federal skilled worker applications in six to twelve months.

Economic Class [note 6] This class includes federal and Quebec-selected skilled workers, federal and Quebec-selected business immigrants, provincial and territorial nominees, the Canadian Experience Class, and live-in caregivers, as well as their immediate family members.

Family Class Immigrants [note 7] Family reunification remains a key objective of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In order to facilitate the reunification of families, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor close relatives to become permanent residents.

Protected Persons [note 8] According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [note 9] (UNHCR), there are about 11 million refugees in the world, 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 fora on refugee protection, CIC plays a significant role in upholding Canada’s international obligations and humanitarian tradition towards refugees. Each year, Canada protects thousands of refugees through the in-Canada asylum system and the resettlement of refugees selected abroad.

In 2008, Canada resettled almost 11,000 refugees from overseas. As well, Canada granted permanent residence to almost 7,000 protected persons in Canada, along with over 4,000 dependants abroad. Fewer in-Canada protected persons became permanent residents in 2008 than planned due to fewer decisions made at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)—the result of a shortfall of decision makers in recent years and delays in appointments due to the transition to a new merit-based appointment process. To address this issue, the Government has made significant efforts to fill IRB vacancies. Between October 31, 2008, and October 26, 2009, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism made 52 appointments and 22 reappointments to the IRB that were assigned to the Refugee Protection Division by the IRB Chairperson. These appointments put the Refugee Protection Division at close to 94% of its full complement. CIC has also taken steps, though the imposition of visas on the Czech Republic and Mexico, and the repeal of a regulation under the Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement, to protect the integrity of the asylum program.

Canada continued to pursue international partnerships in refugee protection in 2008. Active cooperation with the United States continued under the Safe Third Country Agreement, which was successfully defended in Canadian courts. CIC advanced asylum program effectiveness and program integrity by continuing to collaborate with the United States on the sharing of information about refugee claimants. A new biometric information sharing initiative [note 10] is taking place with the United Kingdom and Australia to assist partner countries with managing their immigration programs more effectively.

The United States will join shortly and New Zealand is considering legislation to join in the near future. Cooperation in various multilateral fora remains a cornerstone of Canada’s approach to international engagement.

Canada also worked internationally to expand protection capacity. In 2008, Canada co-sponsored a workshop in Costa Rica on best practices in refugee protection. As well, with strong encouragement from Canada, the UNHCR adopted protracted refugee situations as a key priority, and devoted its December 2008 High Commissioner’s Dialogue to this issue—a significant step forward internationally.

More information on CIC’s refugee programs can be found online on CIC’s website at

Permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds [note 11]

In exceptional circumstances, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives CIC the authority to grant permanent resident status to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify in any class, in cases where there are strong humanitarian and compassionate considerations, or for public policy reasons. The purpose of these discretionary provisions is to provide the flexibility to approve deserving cases not anticipated in the legislation. The Department carries out ongoing policy and procedural analysis on the strong humanitarian and compassionate provision in the Act.

Statistical overview of permanent residents admitted in 2008

Canada’s Immigration Plan for 2008, set out in the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2007, [note 12] indicated a target range for new permanent residents of 240,000 to 265,000. The plan underscored the Government’s commitment to balancing immigration in the Economic, Family, and Protected Persons classes, and to maximizing social and economic benefits to Canada.

In 2008, a total of 247,243 people were admitted to Canada as permanent residents. Federal and skilled worker admissions slightly exceeded the planning range, as did Provincial Nominees. Efforts to address growing numbers of applications under the Live-in Caregiver Class and requests for humanitarian and compassionate consideration also resulted in higher than forecast admissions. The Canadian Experience Class was implemented on September 18, 2008, which, due to changes in policy direction, was later than anticipated. While over 1,000 applications were received in 2008 for the new Canadian Experience Class, to allow for sufficient processing time, few admissions are expected before late 2009. Family Class admissions were also below the planning range in 2008. While the number of visas issued was within the planning range, fewer people than projected chose to come to Canada.

Table 2 provides a more detailed breakdown of admissions by immigration category and allows for a comparison with the 2008 Levels Plan. More statistical information on admissions in 2008 can be found in Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2008. [note 13]

Table 2: New Permanent Residents in 2008, by Immigration Category
(Compared to the 2008 Immigration Plan)

Immigrant Category 2008 Plan
Target Ranges
Number Admitted
Federal Skilled Workers 67,000 – 70,000 76,964
Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers 25,000 – 28,000 26,772
Business Immigrants 11,000 – 13,000 12,407
Provincial and Territorial Nominees 20,000 – 22,000 22,418
Live-in Caregivers 6,000 – 9,000 10,511
Canadian Experience Class 10,000 – 12,000
Total Economic Class (including Dependants) 139,000 – 154,000 149,072
Spouses, Partners, Children and Others 50,000 – 52,000 48,970
Parents and Grandparents 18,000 – 19,000 16,597
Total Family Class 68,000 – 71,000 65,567
Government-Assisted Refugees 7,300 – 7,500 7,295
Privately Sponsored Refugees 3,300 – 4,500 3,512
Protected Persons in Canada 9,400 – 11,300 6,994
Dependants Abroad 6,000 – 8,500 4,059
Total Protected Persons 26,000 – 31,800 21,860
Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds / Public Policy 6,900 – 8,000 10,627
Permit Holders 100 – 200 115
Total Others 7,000 – 8,200 10,742
Category Not Stated 2
TOTAL 240,000 – 265,000 247,243

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2008.

In terms of the linguistic profile of permanent residents admitted in 2008, almost 72% self-identified as having knowledge of French, English, or both official languages.

Table 3. Knowledge of official languages among permanent residents, 2008

Immigrant Class English French Both Neither Total
Family Class 37,678 3,002 2,994 21,893 65,567
Economic Immigrants – principal applicants 39,333 2,757 13,904 5,308 61,302
Economic Immigrants – spouses and dependants 44,762 4,381 6,689 31,938 87,770
Protected Persons 9,481 1,695 609 10,075 21,860
Other Immigrants 8,794 858 431 659 10,742
Category Not Stated* 2
Total 140,048 12,693 24,627 69,873 247,243
Percentage 56.64 5.13 9.96 28.26 100.00

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts & Figures 2008.

* Due to privacy considerations, some cells in this table are replaced with the notation “–”. As a result, components may not add up to the total indicated.

Canada receives its immigrant population from over 200 countries of origin. As indicated in Table 4, almost 53% of new immigrants admitted in 2008 came from 10 source countries.

Table 4: Permanent Residents Admitted in 2008, by Top 10 Source Countries

Country Number Percentage Rank
China, People’s Republic of 29,336 11.87 1
India 24,549 9.93 2
Philippines 23,724 9.60 3
United States 11,216 4.54 4
United Kingdom 9,243 3.74 5
Pakistan 8,052 3.26 6
Korea, Republic of 7,245 2.93 7
France 6,384 2.58 8
Iran 6,010 2.43 9
Colombia 4,995 2.02 10
Total – Top Ten 130,754 52.90  
All Other Source Countries 116,489 47.10  
TOTAL 247,243 100  

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts & Figures 2008.

Temporary residents

In addition to selecting permanent residents, CIC also processes applications for the temporary entry of

  • foreign workers [note 14] who are important to our economic growth;
  • international students [note 15] attracted by the quality and diversity of our educational system; and
  • visitors [note 16] 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, and purchasing goods and services. As shown in Table 5, CIC processed and admitted over 270,000 temporary foreign workers and international students in 2008.

Table 5: Number of Temporary Foreign Workers and Foreign Students admitted in 2008

Category Number Admitted in 2008
Temporary Foreign Workers 192,519
International Students 79,509
Total 272,028

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts & Figures 2008.

Temporary Foreign Workers [note 17]

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. With a few exceptions, foreign workers must have an approved job offer and a work permit before arriving in Canada. CIC works with HRSDC to ensure that the admission of foreign workers does not adversely affect employment opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

In response to increased labour market demand, particularly in Western Canada, and further to the Government of Canada’s commitment under the Advantage Canada [note 18] plan to make improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to respond to employer needs, Canada welcomed more than 192,500 temporary foreign workers in 2008. [note 19] This represents an increase of 17% from 2007 (165,198) and the third year of double-digit growth in the program. Since 2004, foreign worker arrivals have increased by 71%.

International Students [note 20]

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 may also be an important source of future immigrants since they are well-prepared for the Canadian labour market. The number of foreign students entering Canada in 2008 was over 79,500, a rise of 7% from the previous year’s total of just over 74,000. [note 21]

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 by providing them with opportunities to obtain the Canadian work experience needed to apply for permanent resident status through the federal skilled worker category and Canadian Experience Class. The Department’s Off- Campus Work Permit Program, a national program that allows international students at public colleges and universities, and some private degree-granting schools, to seek employment off campus, and the Post- Graduation Work Permit Program, that allows graduates from participating post-secondary institutions to gain valuable Canadian experience for up to three years, continue to serve as important vehicles in this regard. In 2008–2009, CIC issued over 16,400 off-campus permits and more than 18,300 post-graduation permits, demonstrating the success of these permit programs for international students.

Tourists and Business Visitors [note 22]

Tourists create a demand for services in the hospitality sector, and business visitors allow Canadian businesses to benefit from their specialized expertise. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, every foreign national 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 unless they benefit from certain other limited exceptions, for example, being members of the diplomatic corps (i.e. accredited diplomats). As of March 31, 2009, citizens from 144 countries require temporary resident visas to visit Canada. The list of countries requiring visas to enter Canada can be found at In 2008, CIC processed applications (new and extensions) from almost one million persons seeking temporary resident visas as tourists and business visitors to Canada and issued visitor visas, permits, and extensions to over 800,000 persons.

Temporary Resident Permits

Subsection 24(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act authorizes designated officers to issue temporary resident permits to foreign nationals who they believe are inadmissible or who do not meet the requirements of the Act. These permits are issued when there are compelling reasons to admit an otherwise inadmissible individual into Canada. In exercising their discretion, decision makers must take into consideration any instructions issued by the Minister under subsection 24(3), and weigh the risk to Canada against the reason for permitting temporary residence. Issued for a limited period and subject to cancellation at any time, temporary resident permits give CIC the flexibility to address exceptional circumstances or cases affecting the national interest.

Guidelines issued in May 2006 allow immigration officers to issue a temporary resident permit to victims of human trafficking. An initial short-term permit, which may be issued for up to 180 days, provides victims with a period of reflection to escape the influence of their trafficker and consider their options, including pursuing immigration avenues or returning home. A longer-term permit, valid up to three years may be issued to a victim of trafficking in cases where individual circumstances warrant. In 2008, 20 temporary resident permits were issued to 18 victims of trafficking. This figure includes subsequent permits issued to the same victim in order to maintain legal status in Canada.

Table 6 indicates the number of temporary resident permits issued in 2008, categorized according to grounds of inadmissibility under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In 2008, 12,821 permits were issued, with approximately 8.6% (1,101) representing permits issued to foreign nationals who continued to maintain their status as permit holders from within Canada. Of the total, 328 temporary resident permits were issued under a ministerial instruction. The remaining permits were authorized by departmental officials. The authority to issue temporary resident permits is shared between delegated CIC officials and CBSA officers working at ports of entry.

Table 6: Temporary Residents permits issued from January 1 to December 31, 2008*

Description of Inadmissibility Provision under IRPA Individuals
Security (espionage, subversion, terrorism) 34(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) 73
Human or International Rights Violations 35(1)(a), (b) and (c) 18
Serious Criminality (convicted of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least 10 years) 36(1)(a), (b) and (c) 898
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) 7,108
Organized Criminality 37(1)(a) or (b) 4
Health Grounds (danger to public health or public safety, excessive burden) 38(1)(a), (b) and (c) 175
Financial Reasons (unwilling or unable to support themselves or their dependants) 39 21
Misrepresentation 40(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d) 17
Non-compliance with Act or Regulations (no passport, no visa, work/study without permit, medical/criminal check to be completed in Canada, not examined on entry, etc.) 41(a) and (b) 4,170
Inadmissible Family Member 42(a) and (b) 256
No Return Without Prescribed Authorization 52(1) 81
TOTAL   12,821

* The statistics in this chart include the number of temporary resident permits used to enter or remain in Canada in 2008. Source: Field Operations Support System (as of April 7, 2009).


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21.  Source: Facts and Figures 2008 (

22.  For more information, see


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