There are going to be significant Canadian Immigration changes in 2022. In October 2021, it was announced that Canada’s immigration system will overhaul the way it classifies occupations in the fall of 2022 with a NOC revamp. Then in December 2021, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced the mandate letters he submitted to Sean Fraser and his cabinet for 2022.
On February 2nd, Canada held a new Express Entry round of invitations, and on February 14th minister Fraser is set to table Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024.
With Canada’s record-breaking immigration target of 411,000 new permanent residents in 2022, as outlined in the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, and with more efficient processes being introduced, 2022 promises to be a great year for Canadian immigration.
Express Entry Draws in 2022
On February 2, 2022, Canada held a new Express Entry round of invitations for candidates with a provincial nomination. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited 1,070 Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates from the Express Entry pool to apply for Canadian permanent residence (PR).
Provincial nominations provide Express Entry candidates with an additional 600 points toward their CRS score. Those additional points almost guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. PNPs offer a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for candidates interested in immigrating to a specific Canadian province or territory. Each province and territory operates its own PNP designed to meet its unique economic and demographic needs. Express Entry draws only invited Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates in 2021.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed in a recent teleconference that more work needs to be done before resuming Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) draws. But in the interim, Canada is likely to continue holding PNP-specific draws.
Changes to the National Occupation Classification (NOC)
Canada’s immigration system is overhauling the way it classifies occupations in fall 2022. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Statistics Canada, along with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is making big modifications to the NOC for 2022. The ESDC and Statistic Canada generally make structural modifications to the system every ten years and modernize the content every five. Canada’s most recent structural update to the NOC system took effect in 2016; NOC 2021 is set to take effect in fall 2022.
The Canadian government classifies jobs with its National Occupation Classification (NOC), to align Express Entry and foreign worker applicants with the immigration program they are applying for. The NOC also helps in explaining the Canadian labour market, rationalizing government immigration programs, updating skills development, and evaluating the management of foreign worker and immigration programs.
There are three significant modifications to the NOC’s framework, designed to make it more reliable, precise and adaptable. Canada Express Entry applications will no longer utilize the current skill type categories NOC A, B, C or D to categorize applicants’ skillset. A tier system has been launched in its place.
- Changes to terminology: The first terminology change affects the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system itself. It is being retitled the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) system.
- Changes to skill level categories: The former four NOC categories (A, B, C, and D) have expanded to six categories: TEER category 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. By expanding the number of categories, it is possible to better define the employment obligations, which should improve the reliability of the selection process.
- Changes to the level classification system: There is an overhaul of the NOC codes, from four-digit to new five-digit NOC codes. Here’s the breakdown of the new five-digit NOC codes:
- The first digit signifies the broad occupational category;
- The second digit characterizes the TEER category;
- The first two digits together signify the main group;
- The first three digits denote the sub-major group;
- The first four digits represent the minor group;
- And finally, the full five digits signify the unit or group, or the occupation itself.
The TEER system will focus on the education and experience required to work in a given occupation, rather than skill levels. Statistics Canada has argued that the previous NOC categorization system artificially created a low- versus high-skilled categorization, so they are moving away from the high/low categorization, in the interest of more accurately capturing the skills required in each occupation.
NOC 2021 now offers codes for 516 professions. Certain occupational classifications were modified to keep up with the evolving labour market in Canada, and new groups were formed to identify new occupations like cybersecurity experts and data scientists. IRCC and ESDC will provide guidance to stakeholders in advance of these changes taking effect.
An Overview of Canada’s 2022 Immigration Priorities from the Mandate Letters
Reduced Application Processing Times
In the 2021 Budget, Canada allocated $85 million to reduce IRCC processing times. The pandemic caused an IRCC backlog of 1.8 million applications needing to be processed. The Prime Minister has asked Minister Fraser to decrease application processing times, including addressing delays created by the coronavirus.
Updated Permanent Residence (PR) Pathways via Express Entry
Express Entry allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence based on how they can contribute to the Canadian economy. This system allows Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to pro-actively assess, recruit, and select immigrants who are skilled and/or possess the relevant qualifications under Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Electronic Application for Family Reunification
Fraser has been tasked with establishing electronic applications for family reunification and implementing a program to deliver temporary residence to spouses and children abroad, as they wait for the processing of their permanent residence applications.
A New Municipal Nominee Program (MNP)
Like the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), the Municipal Nominee Programs (MNP) will give authority to jurisdictions across Canada to fill local labour gaps. PNPs allow each province and territory to set the requirements for their own immigration streams. Designed to better support small- and medium-sized communities, MNPs would give autonomy to smaller communities and municipalities within provinces and territories to decide on their newcomers.
Waiving of Canadian Citizenship Application Fees
The mandate letters reiterate the government’s commitment to making Canadian citizenship applications free. This promise was made in 2019 before the pandemic forced Canada to adjust its immigration priorities.
A New Trusted Employer System
The Canadian government has discussed launching a Trusted Employer system for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for the past few years. A Trusted Employer system would allow trusted employers to fill job vacancies more quickly through the TFWP. The new system is expected to facilitate work permit renewals, keeping the two-week processing standard, with an employer hotline.
Undocumented Canadian Workers
Fraser has been asked to improve existing pilot programs, to determine how to regularize status for undocumented Canadian workers. Undocumented immigrants have become increasingly integral to the Canadian economy, and our working lives.
French-speaking Express Entry candidates will get additional CRS points for their French language proficiency. The number of points increases from 15 to 25 for French-speaking candidates. For Bilingual candidates in the Express Entry system, the points will increase from 30 to 50.
Canada has committed to resettling 40,000 Afghan refugees, and this has been one of IRCC’s top priorities since August 2021.
Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) 2022
IRCC has not yet provided an update on the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) 2022. If there is no revision, Canada will look to admit 23,500 immigrants under the PGP again in 2022.
Travel Rules in 2022
Beginning on January 15, 2022, more travellers seeking entry to Canada will need to be fully vaccinated on arrival. This includes family members, international students above the age of eighteen, temporary foreign workers, essential service providers, and professional and amateur athletes.
Two Immigration Levels Plans: 2022-2024 and 2023-2025
Canada is expected to receive two immigration levels plan announcements in 2022. These levels plans outline Canada’s targets for new permanent resident arrivals, and the programs those new immigrants will arrive under.
Under the Canada Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Canada is planning to welcome 411,000 new immigrants in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. These figures may be revised when the federal government unveils its new levels plans.
Minister Sean Fraser is set to table Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 on February 14th. This is the announcement that would normally have taken place in the fall, but it was delayed due to the September 2021 federal election. The Levels Plan 2023-2025 announcement is expected by November 1st of this year.