The year 2024 is set to bring important changes and updates to Canada’s immigration system. As outlined in the government’s 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents (PRs) this year through various economic, family reunification, and humanitarian programs.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of what aspiring immcigrants can expect regarding:
- Recent policy changes introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
- Pathways and process to attain permanent residency
- Eligibility criteria for key immigration categories
- Impact of COVID-19 on Canada immigration
IRCC Changes and Immigration Policy Updates
Two-Year Cap on International Students
In January 2024, IRCC Minister Marc Miller announced a temporary two-year cap to limit new study permit approvals to around 360,000 in 2024 and 340,000 in 2025.
This 35% reduction aims to stabilize growth in the International Student Program after a rapid increase in recent years put pressure on housing and healthcare access.
Enhanced Protections for International Students
Alongside the cap, IRCC strengthened requirements for designated learning institutions (DLIs) to better support international students:
- Mandatory confirmation of admission letters to prevent fraud
- New recognized institution framework to expedite study permits and incentivize student supports
- Increased cost-of-living requirement for study permit eligibility
Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan
Historically IRCC announced targets only for the upcoming year. However, the 2024-2026 plan provides certainty through 2026 to allow better planning by provinces and stakeholders.
Digital Transformation Strategy
IRCC aims to modernize and improve efficiency of its operations and decision-making through increased use of technology and artificial intelligence.
This is expected to reduce processing times and strengthen program integrity.
Pathways and Process for Permanent Residency
The Express Entry system remains the main pathway for economic immigration to Canada in 2024.
To attain PR through Express Entry:
- Create an online profile and enter details on work experience, education, language ability etc.
- Get ranked based on a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.
- High-ranking candidates get invited to apply for PR.
- Submit a complete application within 60 days.
- Get the final decision in about 6 months.
Alternatively, the Provincial Nominee Program allows provinces to nominate immigrants to meet local labor market needs. Nominees can then apply for PR through a streamlined process.
The criteria for Canada’s economic immigration programs focus mainly on:
- Skilled work experience: At least 1 year of full-time (or equal part-time) skilled work experience in the last 10 years. Certain occupations may need longer experience.
- Education: A Canadian high school diploma or foreign credential equal to a Canadian credential. Certain degrees may be required for specific occupations.
- Language ability: Minimum threshold in speaking, reading, writing, and listening based on standard tests like IELTS or CELPIP.
- Sufficient settlement funds: Proof of adequate funds to support settlement in Canada. Amount varies by family size.
- Intention to reside in Canada: Applicants must plan to live in Canada after receiving PR.
Criteria for family sponsorship and refugee/humanitarian programs differ significantly.
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global mobility for study, work, or permanent immigration over 2020-2022. However, Canada continued welcoming immigrants throughout this period to meet its economic and labor market objectives. IRCC introduced alternative arrangements including virtual document submission and electronic permanent residence confirmations to ensure smooth processing amid restrictions.
As the pandemic impact subsides, the immigration department expects gradually increasing intake targets through 2026.
Canada’s tradition of high immigration levels is set to continue in 2024 and beyond. The IRCC’s transformative policy changes this year attempt to balance economic priorities with social stability. Despite temporary setbacks from COVID-19, Canada remains an attractive destination for immigrants due to its strong economy, immigrant-friendly society, and multiple pathways to permanent status. The country offers abundant opportunities for those who meet eligibility criteria and can adapt to its rigorous regulatory regime.
Canada’s Immigration Landscape in 2024: A Comprehensive Analysis of Opportunities and Challenges: This article provides a comprehensive analysis of Canada’s immigration landscape in 2024. It covers the opportunities and challenges of immigration, the economic impact of immigration, the labor market, the provinces with the highest job opportunities, the changes to the study permit system, the healthcare sector, and cultural integration.
Canada announces new immigration stream specific to health workers: This article discusses the Canadian government’s announcement of a new immigration stream specific to health workers. The plan is supported through a Budget 2023 commitment of close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding to provinces and territories, to improve health care services for Canadians.
Notice – Supplementary Information for the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan: This article provides supplementary information for the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan. It covers the trajectory of the plan, the number of new permanent residents to be welcomed in 2024, 2025, and 2026, the priorities of the plan, and the response to humanitarian crises.