With higher immigration targets, and more efficient processes in place, the Canadian immigration landscape for 2022 looks promising. As we approach the end of 2021, what changes can we expect in Canadian immigration programs and draws in 2022?
Canada plans to welcome a record-breaking 411,000 new permanent residents in 2022, per the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
This is a higher level than Canada has ever targeted before. Canada has not mentioned reducing this target during the pandemic. In fact, the new immigration minister, Sean Fraser, mentioned potentially increasing these levels even further to meet labour market demand.
This was a disappointing year for Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applicants waiting to be selected from the Express Entry pool. With the last all-program draw targeting FSW candidates in December 2020, the subsequent year-long all-program draw hiatus caused frustration for many.
For most of 2021, Canada has been holding draws specific to candidates eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Since September 2021, Canada began holding smaller PNP-only Express Entry draws. These smaller draws will allow IRCC to tackle the significant backlog leftover from COVID-19.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of IRCC staff were on leave. IRCC was also unable to finalize many permanent residence applications due to the travel restrictions in place. These effects of the pandemic resulted in a massive application backlog. As of October 2021, IRCC had a backlog of about 1.8 million applications.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it also paved the way for a more efficient immigration system. In the last quarter, IRCC has admitted more newcomers per month than ever seen in Canadian history. As the backlog clears, we should expect to see an all-program draw in 2022.
In 2021, Canada took drastic measures to meet immigration targets for the year despite travel restrictions. Among these measures included dropping the CRS cut-off to 75 for certain Express Entry candidates and implementing a temporary permanent residence program for applicants in the country. To meet the record immigration targets in 2022, the Canadian government may need to decrease the CRS cut-off for Express Entry draws once again.
However, due to the build-up of candidates in the Express Entry pool, the CRS cut-off will likely be much higher for at least the first half of the year.
One big change coming in 2022 will be the new National Occupational Classification (NOC). NOC codes are essential to the immigration process. Immigration applicants that are asked to identify their work experience must do so by providing a NOC code that fits their role.
Currently, economic immigration programs use NOC 2016 version. This structure divides codes into four main skill level: A, B, C, and D. Only those with experience skill level A or B are currently eligible to enter the Express Entry pool. Skill level B accounts for nearly half of all NOC codes. The NOC 2021 will be moving toward 6 main “TEER” categories – Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities. The NOC 2021 was released this year but will not be implemented until the second half of 2022.
This move will inevitably change who is eligible to enter the Express Entry pool. While IRCC has not yet announced how it will affect candidates with work experience in Skill Level B, it is possible that some of these candidates may no longer be eligible following next year’s changes.
However, IRCC may also decide to completely change the way Canadian immigration applicants are selected from the pool of candidates in 2022. For example, the Express Entry pool may begin to select candidates using their NOC code in addition to CRS score. By changing the NOC criteria from draw to draw, Canada could hand-select certain occupations that are particularly in-demand at the time.
As of January 15, 2022, almost all temporary residents coming into Canada will need to be fully vaccinated.
Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions have made it almost impossible to travel to, from, or within the country without being fully vaccinated.
If you are planning to travel to Canada after January 15, you will need to plan ahead to ensure you meet Canada’s definition of fully vaccinated and have received the complete dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to travelling.
If you are a confirmed permanent resident, with a valid COPR travel document, you may be exempt from these restrictions.
With restrictions constantly changing, it is important to check the government’s online tool to ensure you are able to travel to Canada before you leave.
The federal government has been working on implementing a Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) since 2019. While IRCC hasn’t announced when this will take effect, it is possible the program will be enacted in 2022. Like the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the MNP will aim to spread the benefits of Canadian immigration across less populous regions of Canada.
MNPs would allow smaller communities and municipalities to decide on their newcomers. The government hasn’t yet announced when this program will be launching, or what the requirements will be. The immigration programs will likely be similar to PNPs, where communities can select candidates based on whether their experience or skills can fill local demographic or labour market gaps.
Like PNPs, MNPs will likely provide more options for candidates that may not have enough points in the Express Entry pool to be invited directly by the federal government.
As Canada recovers from the economic effects of COVID-19, the government looks to immigration as the solution in 2022. With exciting new changes in Canadian immigration on the horizon for 2022, now is a great time to start your immigration journey.
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