Canada suspends admission of highly skilled immigrant workers due to heavy backlog

Despite a shortage of labor in some parts of the country, the federal government is suspending new invitations because it does not have the capacity to process them

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OTTAWA – Canada’s immigration system for highly skilled workers is seriously behind schedule and even in the midst of a labor shortage, the government is suspending new invitations because the department simply cannot process them fairly quickly, according to a briefing document.

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Immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens obtained the document through freedom of information and provided it to the National Post. In the memo, department officials point out that “approximately 76,000” applicants are in the federal highly skilled worker application inventory, which is more than the government needs to meet targets through 2023.

The same memo says the Express Entry pool, which includes skilled workers, skilled trades and people with Canadian life experience, is over 207,000.

Canada’s immigration plan has a variety of different categories, including skilled workers, provincial nominees, family reunification, and refugees. The government has continued to process provincial nominees, but other economic immigrants have stalled since last fall.

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People who apply under the Highly Skilled Workers and Trades Program submit a variety of documents, including a language test, and then wait for an invitation to complete their application before it is processed.

With travel bans in place, applications for highly skilled workers from overseas have been on pause since September 2021. Last year the government still managed to meet its record immigration targets, but did so mainly by inviting people already in Canada on temporary permits. or as students to become permanent residents under a new Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR2PR) program.

The government’s current immigration plan calls for 110,500 skilled workers to arrive next year, but the department says in a memo that this may need to be cut in half because the department has so much other work.

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“These reductions are due to the intake space required to accommodate the TR2PR stream and the resettlement of Afghan nationals to Canada,” the memo reads.

The Liberals initially pledged to bring 20,000 Afghans to Canada, but during the fall campaign they doubled the pledge to 40,000. According to the latest update, 7,000 of them arrived in Canada.

A new ministerial immigration plan will be tabled in Parliament when the House of Commons resumes in February.

The department is aiming for a six-month processing time for Federal Skilled Workers (FSWs), but in the memo they warned that could increase significantly.

“Processing times are currently 20.4 months (over three times the service standard) and are expected to continue to increase as older inventory is processed. FSW processing time is expected to increase to 36 months throughout 2022.”

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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser was not available for an interview, but Rémi Larivière, spokesman for the department, said the government will still bring in highly skilled workers, as there are already plenty of them in the waiting line.

“The already existing strong inventory of qualified candidates to process means that there will be no reduction in 2022 in the number of new qualified permanent residents arriving in Canada to work and settle,” she said in a statement. e-mail. “This break is temporary; invitations to apply under the FHS streams will resume once the treatment inventory is reduced enough to create space for new admissions.

Larivière said the fall financial update included measures to help reduce the backlog.

“The Government of Canada has offered to provide $85 million in 2022-2023 to be able to process more applications for permanent and temporary residence and to reduce processing times in key areas affected by the pandemic.

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Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, the party’s immigration spokesman, said the delays were unacceptable.

“The massive backlog the Liberal government has created at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is not only hurting newcomers, families, immigrants and hard-working business owners, but it is also threatening billions of dollars in growth. economy that Canada so badly needs,” he said. in a report.

He said employers need workers and the government must act quickly.

“Immigrants and Canadian employers cannot wait three years for Federal Skilled Worker applications to be processed. It is time for the Liberals to announce a specific date for the end of the pause in processing federal skilled worker invitations.

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A study by the Business Development Bank of Canada last fall found that 55% of Canadian businesses were facing labor shortages. They found that this number increased to 80% in hotel-type businesses.

Prospective immigrants to Canada are scored on their level of education, language skills and other metrics as part of the government’s comprehensive ranking system. The memo says that with the current state of apps, someone would need a score above 500.

Betsy Kane, an immigration lawyer in Ottawa, said that was a very high score.

“What it’s going to mean is basically a young couple with a very high education for both the candidate and the person involved, potentially only with executive-type job offers,” she said. “What it tells you is that only powerful couples are going to benefit from scores over 500.”

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Kane said with this backlog, there will also be many people with work or study permits who will need extensions because their applications have not been processed.

The federal Liberals have set targets to bring in more than 400,000 immigrants a year. Kane said they needed more than lofty goals.

“The ministry has the ability to do that. He just needs tools.

She said that should include getting people back to the office to process applications, many of which arrive on paper.

“This department is an essential service just like the Canada Revenue Agency and just like the Canada Border Services Agency,” she said. “These guys should be back in the office.”

Sergio Karas, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, said the department also needs to start focusing more on the needs of Canadian employers.

“I don’t think it’s about adding staff. I think it’s about realigning priorities and reallocating staff to handle the kind of demands that the Canadian economy needs,” he said. “Employers are desperate for skilled trades for highly skilled people, typically in the construction industry.”

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