Since the announcement of the 2024-2026 Immigration Level Plan on November 1, we've received a lot of questions from people wondering what the future holds for Canada's immigration program. Rather than answering each question individually, we thought it would be easier and faster to collect and share some of the best ones, so in this column, we'll try to break down some of the questions and make them easier to understand.
Q: Can you summarize the features of the 2024-2026 immigration level plan in a nutshell?
The newly released immigration level plan is focused on stabilizing the implementation of existing immigration programs. There are no significant increases or decreases in numbers compared to the previous plan, so it's hard to say much has changed.
Q: How is this different from previous immigration level plans?
A: Well, of course, there's nothing that's changed from the previous immigration level plan. Express Entry and the PNP plan have been maintained, but we've seen a slight decrease in Economic Pilots and the Atlantic Immigration Program, and we've seen a slight increase in spousal immigration. On top of that, the French-speaking pathway has been increasing every year since it was introduced, with a target of 36,000 in 2026.
Q: Why do you think you've seen this trend?
The current immigration target is 500,000 per year, so we're already at the right level. I think the government of Canada has decided that there needs to be some pacing, because if you increase the number of people rapidly, you run the risk of creating unforeseen imbalances in the supply and demand of social services, such as housing and healthcare.
Q: So why did the immigration target increase?
First of all, Canada is now focusing more on the influx of younger people, which is important to increase the absolute number of immigrants, but can actually have an impact on improving the labor force. So if you look at the different immigration programs, you can see that we have increased the number of Express Entry, which is age-dependent, but we have reduced the number of rural and small town-based immigrants, and we have increased the number of spouses, but we have reduced the number of parents and grandparents. In addition, policy initiatives such as dramatically increasing the number of working holidays and making other Canadian Experience programs more accessible indicate a greater emphasis on attracting a younger workforce.
Targeting the growth of French-speakers is also a good indication of how Canada's immigration policy operates. The results of the Express Entry category, which actively targets French-speaking applicants, and the new French-speaking pathway, are all indicative of immigration policies aimed at increasing the number of French-speakers in Canada.
Q: So is there anything we can do to help with our permanent residency applications?
A: It seems to be true that younger people have an advantage overall, not only through the immigration level plan, but also by looking at the current selection results and the operation of the program. If you look at things like the age-restricted working holiday and Express Entry, where we're trying to get a lot of people into Canada, you can see that there's an advantage to being younger, and it's also very helpful to be able to study in Canada and have a career here. Given the benefits of having a Canadian work or education background for Express Entry, as well as for applying through the PNP, it's clear that studying and gaining experience in Canada is the most effective way to go right now.
Q: Is PNP making any announcements and what are your thoughts on its future?
First of all, although the federal and provincial immigration programs are interrelated, they are run by different entities and operate in different ways, so it's important to think of them separately. Of course, the federal government sets the provincial immigration thresholds and allocates them to the provincial governments, so there are targets set within that, so it's not completely different because they still need federal approval at the end of the day, but those detailed targets or announcements of plans will be made separately by the provincial governments.
Q: What is your outlook on provincial immigration in BC?
It's hard to comment on Provincial Nominee Immigration off the top of the current announcement, but to keep it simple, I think Targeted Draw will play a more prominent role going forward. Right now, the General Selection itself is scoring very high, whereas the Early Childhood Teacher and Health sectors are still in the 60s, and they're announcing frequently, so I don't think it's going to change for at least the next two years. Also, in the Early Childhood Teacher sector, they've increased the government subsidy from $4 to $6 per hour, so there's a lot of improvement in the working environment and so on. I also think this is one of the reasons why trying to immigrate to BC through that sector is now a favorite.
Q: What about the Express Entry immigration scores still being too high and the delayed announcements?
A: The immigration backlog is something that the Canadian government has been trying to improve, and they've consistently said that the reason it's happening is that they have a lot of applications, but they don't have enough people to process them, so they've hired more immigration officers to try to improve that, and they're also trying to computerize and streamline a lot of the immigration applications and processing. We're trying to improve the webpage, the online system, and so on, so we're hopeful that we'll see some concrete results in the near future on that difficulty.
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