The Billion Dollar Question: Does Canada Need Business Immigration?

Canada’s immigration minister John McCallum recently announced that the federal government is evaluating the merits of launching a new program to attract immigrant investors to the country.1

Entrepreneur and investor (“business”) immigration programs aim to stimulate economic growth by attracting investment capital, business savvy, and high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) to Canada.

On the one hand, these programs draw talent, investment capital, and spending power to Canada. Yet they have had only mixed success since Canada began to open its doors to business immigrants in 1978. In addition, the impact of such programs on housing affordability, the “sale” of Canadian citizenship, and the extent to which the programs benefit Canada’s economy and society have provoked public concerns.

These concerns raise a billion dollar question: Does Canada need dedicated business immigration programs? According to most Canadian governments, the answer appears to be yes. Today, such programs exist both federally and in 8 of 13 provinces and territories.

Measuring the Economic and Social Value

To what extent have business immigration programs benefitted Canada’s economy? The answer depends on one’s benchmark for success.

If the primary objective is to draw investment capital and spending to Canada, then the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which was terminated in 2014, and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, which continues to operate, have been successful. Between 2007 and 2011, the two programs raised $6.42 billion in investment capital for the governments of Canada and Quebec.2 A 2010 study argued that the main economic benefit of the IIP was the purchasing power of immigrants, who spent significantly on homes, education, and goods and services in Canada.3

However, if the main aim is to attract individuals and investment capital that will lead to business and job creation, then much work lies ahead. Today, most of Canada’s programs set out to achieve this goal. To that end, Canada overhauled its business immigration programs in 2014, as government research found that business immigrants had only limited economic success in Canada, both in terms of their earnings and in running successful businesses.

The social value of the programs also merits examination. Canada seeks immigrants who will socially and culturally integrate into local communities and become engaged citizens. As such, Canada’s business immigration programs contain residency provisions which require foreign nationals to spend a certain length of time in the country to either qualify for or maintain their Canadian permanent resident status, or to become eligible for citizenship. This has created a persistent challenge, as residency requirements may conflict with the fact that entrepreneurs and investors are highly mobile and frequently travel around the world to tend to their business.

The Future of Business Immigration

Luckily, Canada’s extensive experience in this space provides stakeholders with lessons that can be applied when designing the business immigration programs of tomorrow. For these programs to meet Canada’s economic and social objectives, the following considerations must be taken into account.

Canada must be cognizant of the global competition. In the 1980s, Canada was an international pioneer in business immigration, competing with only a handful of countries. The field is much more crowded today, with about 30 countries offering such programs. Canada must continue to keep an eye on the competition in peer nations, and remain malleable enough to glean lessons learned and adopt global best practices at home.

Policy experimentation continues to feature prominently in the programs designed in Canada and elsewhere. Canadian policy-makers often adjust programs to try to create the right incentive structures and conditions for immigrants to facilitate business and job creation in Canada. Program monitoring, refining, and a bit of patience will help achieve Canada’s business immigration goals.

Determining appropriate business immigration intake levels to support economic growth, preventing fraud, limiting burdensome application requirements, and processing applications quickly all remain pivotal to success. At its termination in 2014, the IIP had a backlog of 65,000 applications that would have taken six years to process.4 It is essential to balance these important and challenging responsibilities if Canada wants to remain globally competitive and attract the best and the brightest.

Social issues such as housing affordability and residency requirements require additional scrutiny. Public opinion matters; for these programs to succeed, the Canadian public must be sold on their economic and social benefits to the country. Increasing public awareness of the social benefits, such as the fact that business immigrants are a significant source of charitable contributions, may help ease concerns.

While achieving the aforementioned tasks may appear daunting, Canada’s overall success with immigration should give stakeholders confidence that the country is fully capable of creating successful business immigration programs that benefit Canadians.

Help Shape the Future in December!

In December 2016, the Conference Board is hosting Canada’s first-ever Entrepreneur & Investor Immigration Summit in Toronto.

The two-day summit will convene domestic and international stakeholders from many sectors to discuss the economic and social implications of business immigration programs, and how Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial programs can be improved.

Your recommendations at the summit will inform a major Conference Board National Immigration Centre report on this topic to be released in early 2017.

Make sure to sign up now!

Upcoming Conference Board Immigration Events: Toronto and Ottawa

This October, the Conference Board hosts Minister John McCallum at a major meeting in Toronto to discuss the future of Canada’s immigration system.

In May 2017, we are hosting our third annual Canadian Immigration Summit in Ottawa, a major two-day event that attracts participants from across the country.

Please contact us if you wish to get involved!

Cape Breton mayoralty candidate unveils immigration plan

Rankin MacSween points to P.E.I.’s success in attracting immigrants

By Wendy Martin, CBC News

Canadian immigration consultancy
Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayoral candidate Rankin MacSween says the island is losing the equivalent of the population of Louisbourg every year. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

A candidate for mayor in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality chose the picturesque but struggling community of Louisbourg, N.S., to unveil his plan for stemming the region’s population decline by increasing immigration.

The CBRM is shrinking by about 1,000 people annually.

Rankin MacSween told a group of supporters at the Louisbourg Fire Hall on Friday that it’s like losing a town the size of Louisbourg year after year.

“As a community, we are in a crisis,” said MacSween. “And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

Losing people, losing schools

He pointed to the decision this spring by the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board to close 17 schools over the next few years because of declining student enrolments.

MacSween said that, if elected, he would allocate $1 million a year from the municipal budget to try to reverse the population decline, by attracting more immigrants.

He wants to copy Prince Edward Island’s lead in developing a settlement strategy.

“As we’re in decline, they’re growing,” MacSween told about 40 supporters at his announcement.

CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween
Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween outlines his immigration plan in Louisbourg, N.S. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

P.E.I.’s growing

P.E.I. had the largest population growth in Atlantic Canada over the 10-year period beginning in 2005, up 6.0 per cent to 146,283 in 2014.

That’s due in large part to people moving to P.E.I. from other countries, notably China.

“What’s also notable is that the data points to the fact that those immigrants have done a marvelous job of creating economic opportunity as they’ve come,” MacSween said.

He said while there are a couple of provincially funded positions in the CBRM to welcome newcomers to the area, there’s no one working actively to attract immigrants.

He sees that as a “critical” priority and said it would be worth the municipal investment.

Immigration vs. port development

“I mean, my priority is not to hire political staff. My priority is not to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars around some vague concept around the port, to spend that money on legal fees, and studies and consultants,” MacSween said.

CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween in Louisbourg
CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween addresses voters in Louisbourg. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

That’s a clear reference to the incumbent mayor, Cecil Clarke, who has made the development of Sydney’s port and the construction of a container terminal his top economic priority.

Jean Bagnell of Louisbourg says she welcomes any plan that might help reinvigorate the community.

“When I was a kid growing up, we had shipping here. The place was going and going, bus service and the trains, and all that went down the way,” said Bagnell.

Municipal and school board elections will be held across Nova Scotia on Oct. 15, 2016.


Canadian government signals renewed openness to international students

International graduates of Canadian universities are “the perfect candidates” for citizenship, says immigration minister

Canadian-educated international students are exactly the sort of would-be immigrants this country should be courting, the federal government has said as it moves on election promises to make immigration policy friendlier to international graduates of Canadian postsecondary institutions.

The government’s first step came in late February when it introduced legislation repealing changes made under the previous Conservative government’s controversial Bill C-24 of 2015. Although the Conservatives had made adjustments over time that generally made immigration policy more favourable to international students, Bill C-24, enforced in their last year in office, made it harder for international graduates of Canadian postsecondary programs to qualify for citizenship.

The federal Liberal government announced that it would reverse sections in C-24 that increased a residency requirement from three years to four and eliminated applicants’ ability to count half of their Canadian study time, up to one year, towards their residency, which was specifically mentioned in the Liberals’ fall election platform.

“International students are the perfect candidates to become Canadian citizens and we are seeking them out, as are other countries around the world,” immigration minister John McCallum told a news conference before the introduction of the new legislation, called Bill C-6. “It makes no sense for Canada to punch them in the nose by taking away their 50 percent [residency] credit.”

In mid-March, Mr. McCallum also told reporters that his department would be setting up talks between the federal government and provincial officials to look at how to reform Canada’s Express Entry system. That system, in place since June 2015, is often the first step to permanent residency for international students who have completed their Canadian postsecondary programs and who wish to live and work in Canada long-term.

Express Entry has been criticized for putting those graduates in direct competition with other skilled foreign workers, rather than assessing them as a separate category as they used to be, and not valuing their Canadian education as highly as before. Mr. McCallum said foreign students had been “shortchanged” by Express Entry and that more needed to be done to attract them to Canada and encourage them to become permanent residents. The federal-provincial review of the system was just getting underway as of early May.

The changes to citizenship requirements and the plan to review the path to permanent residency are “positive signals,” said Amit Chakma, president of Western University and chair of the federal government’s Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. The panel’s 2012 final report recommended that Canada double the 239,000 international students it receives within a decade to build the country’s future prosperity. As of 2014, Canada had 336,000 international students, nearly 80 percent of them at the postsecondary level.

When it comes to Express Entry, Dr. Chakma supports returning to a separate assessment category for international student graduates. “It all depends on what they [the government] come up with, but I certainly welcome their willingness to look at some of the challenges we are facing.”

Steffi Hamann, a PhD candidate from Germany, said the government’s announcements make her “feel really good” about her decision to continue her academic career in this country. Ms. Hamann came to the University of Guelph in 2012 on an Ontario Trillium Scholarshipdesigned to attract the best and brightest foreign PhD candidates.

Now in her last year of a doctorate in political science and international development studies, looking at food security, Ms. Hamann hopes to avoid the Express Entry competition to permanent residency by applying through Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program. It has a specific stream just for PhD graduates (most provinces and territories can nominate a certain number of permanent residency applicants that they feel best meet the province’s needs). That stream also eliminates the need for her to already have a year’s worth of full-time Canadian skilled work experience, generally required under Express Entry.

Still, while she says Canada is more welcoming than many countries, she said there was panic and disappointment last year when international students learned they would no longer be assessed in their own separate category for permanent residency, especially since many pay higher tuition fees that can reach beyond $40,000 a year for some programs. “There’s a sense … that we made this investment and [we’ve] clearly indicated that we value being educated in this particular country, so it was a bit of a slap in the face,” she said.

Slow processing times for study visas can also be a sore spot for international students. “There’s always complaints about that,” said Navneet Khinda, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, adding that clarifying and simplifying all the immigration processes international students face would help too. The Canadian Bureau for International Education reported a 30 per cent increase in study permit processing times in 2015. However Citizenship and Immigration Canada says processing times have improved, with an average of 38 days in 2015 compared to 48 days in 2013 and even fewer days for students from Canada’s top source countries, such as China and India.

The CBIE “hopes that the government will make it easier for international students to get study and work permits in a timely manner, as well as create clear pathways to permanent residency for those international students who choose to stay and contribute to Canada’s future,” said the organization’s president Karen McBride in an emailed statement.

International graduates of Canadian postsecondary programs reported having a harder time under Express Entry initially because they usually lacked a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) filed by an employer to show whether a foreign worker is needed to fill a job. While not required to apply for permanent residency, having an LMIA automatically gave a substantial boost to the number of points the applicant received under the Express Entry system. The immigration department has acknowledged that almost all those successful in the early rounds of the new system had LMIAs, but that has since changed. Some 22 percent of those invited to apply for permanent residency out of the Express Entry system in 2015 had previously held a Canadian study permit.

The CBIE commented that while the system initially seemed unfavourable to international students, the immigration department does seem open to making adjustments and that in the long run it may end up being even more beneficial to international students due to its faster processing time. It also said that it is too early to verify what the overall effect of immigration policy changes over the last year has been on international student choices vis-à-vis Canada.

Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann also had initial concerns about Express Entry but said it is shaping up to be a good system that will favour the Canadian experience international students already have. “Provided they apply properly and are properly advised, they are almost a shoe-in for Canadian permanent residency,” said Mr. Mamann, who has acted for thousands of international students over the years.

Regardless of the details though, sending out a clear, positive message of welcome to international students will make more of a difference to their choices than a process that may ultimately favour them but is too cumbersome to easily understand, said Dr. Chakma. “When they have other opportunities, anything that can be perceived to be a barrier becomes negative,” he said. “Signals matter.”



By MOIRA MACDONALD | May 10, 2016

Source : University Affairs

Changes to Canada’s immigration policy will benefit international students and families, says minister

New system will reduce wait-times for family reunification, says Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum


Immigration consultant Toronto
A townhall discussion on immigration topics was held at the Unifor Banquet Hall Thursday evening. Listening to community feedback, from left, Brampton South MP Sonia Sidhu, Brampton West MP Kamal Khera, John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees, and Brampton East MP Raj Grewal. Sept 1, 2016.

International students pursuing post-secondary education in Canada are being short-changed by unfriendly policies and laws that make it difficult for them to become Canadian citizens, said Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum.

An announcement in the fall will change that scenario, the minister promised.

McCallum, who appeared in Brampton on Thursday for an immigration town hall hosted by Brampton West MP Kamal Khera also hinted at the possibility of other reforms including: an increase to the number of immigrants Canada will admit in the coming years, quicker processing of applications for family reunification program and increase in funding for resettlement programs.

“International students are not treated well in the current system,” McCallum said. “International students are among the most promising group of immigrants–they are young, can speak English or French and know about Canada. So, we’re going to give them more points under express entry and make it easier for them to become permanent residents.”

In a previous town hall meeting in Brampton, McCallum told media, the Liberals plan on admitting up to 305,000 newcomers in 2016, as opposed to the 285,000 the Conservative had earmarked for 2015.

Also, the current government hopes to issue up to 20,000 visas in the parent and grandparent sponsorship applications category.

“The single-most important commitment we made in the election campaign was to substantially reduce the processing time for the families,” the minister said. “We’re working right now to reduce the inventory of people waiting. We will be announcing a new system in the fall which will substantially reduce the processing time for family unification.”

Asked whether the government planned to do anything to create incentives and job opportunities for new immigrants to settle in other provinces and places instead of a few select cities, the minister said the government has been working with communities and companies across Canada to ensure they are immigrant-friendly.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberal government has been working to introduce a system that would speed-up the accreditation process of foreign degrees, he said.

“Canada was built by immigrants and immigrants will continue to build the country, especially now since we have an aging population,” he said. “I have had consultations across the country throughout the summer and just about everywhere I go, including Alberta, people are saying, at least in the medium term, we need more immigrants.”

Brampton Guardian

An overview of proposed changes to the Citizenship Act – Canada News Centre

An overview of proposed changes to the Citizenship Act

An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act was introduced today. The changes in the proposed legislation would provide greater flexibility for applicants trying to meet the requirements for citizenship, and help immigrants obtain citizenship faster. They would also repeal provisions of the Citizenship Act that allow citizenship to be revoked from dual citizens who engage in certain acts against the national interest. Additional changes are also proposed to further enhance program integrity.

Repealing the national interest grounds for citizenship revocation

Legislative changes that came into effect in May 2015 created a new ground for citizenship revocation that allowed citizenship to be taken away from dual citizens for certain acts against the national interest of Canada. These grounds include convictions of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received, or for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.  The Bill repeals these new grounds. All Canadians who commit crimes should face the consequences of their actions through the Canadian justice system.

The ability to revoke citizenship where it was obtained by false representation, by fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances will remain in place. The Minister would continue to have authority to revoke citizenship in basic fraud cases, such as identity and residence fraud (which constitute the majority of cases), and the Federal Court would continue to have authority to revoke citizenship in cases where the fraud is in relation to concealing serious inadmissibilities concerning security, human or international rights violations, war crimes, and organized criminality.

Repealing the intent to reside provision

Since June 2015, adult applicants must declare on their citizenship applications that they intend to continue to reside in Canada if granted citizenship. The provision created concern among some new Canadians, who feared their citizenship could be revoked in the future if they moved outside of Canada. The Government is proposing to repeal this provision. All Canadians are free to move outside Canada. This is a right guaranteed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Reducing the length of time someone must be physically present in Canada to qualify for Citizenship

To help immigrants achieve citizenship more quickly, the Government is proposing to reduce the time required to be spent in Canada for citizenship for adults to three years (1095 days) within the five years before applying for citizenship. This will mean applicants can apply one year sooner than they can now. This offers greater flexibility for immigrants who may need to travel outside of Canada for various personal or work reasons.

Currently, the Citizenship Act requires applicants to be physically present in Canada for four years (1,460 days) within the six years immediately before applying for citizenship.

Allowing time in Canada before Permanent Residency to count toward the physical presence requirement

Under the Citizenship Act, people cannot count time they spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident towards meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.

The changes in the new Bill would let non-permanent resident time count toward the new three year physical presence requirement for citizenship, for up to one year. Under this change, each day that a person is authorized to be in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident could be counted as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.

These changes support the Government’s goal of making it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada, reuniting their families and contributing to the economic success of all Canadians. The time credit will also encourage skilled individuals to come to Canada to study or work, and benefits groups like protected persons and parents and grandparents on visitors’ visas.

Eliminating the 183 days of physical presence requirement

The Bill proposes to remove the supplemental physical presence requirement, as keeping it would not allow applicants to benefit from the new non-permanent resident time credit. Applicants would no longer need to be physically present for 183 days in Canada during each of four calendar years that are within the six years immediately before applying for citizenship.

Amending the age range for language and knowledge requirements

Since the first Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947, citizenship applicants have had to have an adequate knowledge of English or French, as well as knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. Previous changes to the Citizenship Act expanded the age range of applicants who must meet the language and knowledge requirements from those aged 18-54 to those aged 14-64.

The Government is proposing to return to the previous 18-54 age requirement, removing a potential barrier to citizenship for applicants in both the younger and older age groups. For younger applicants, learning English or French and having an adequate knowledge of Canada is already achieved through schooling. For the older age group, language skills and knowledge of Canada are offered through a wide range of integration services.

Adult applicants aged 18-54 would still be required to provide evidence that they understand English or French and are able to hold a short conversation about common topics, understand simple instructions, and use basic grammar. They are also required to pass a knowledge test on Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Program Integrity Enhancements

A number of changes to further enhance program integrity are also proposed.

  • Conditional Sentences: Currently, the Citizenship Act prohibits a person under a probation order, on parole or incarcerated in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison from being granted citizenship or from counting that time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship.  However, the provisions do not include conditional sentences (i.e. sentences served in the community with certain conditions) served in Canada.  So currently, an applicant who is sentenced to a conditional sentence order could be granted citizenship or count that time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship. These amendments would change that.  This change would apply to both new applications and those still being processed.
  • Maintaining requirements for citizenship until Oath takingThe Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act introduced a rule that would not allow applicants to take the oath of citizenship if they no longer met the requirements for citizenship after the decision was made. Before this change, there was no authority to prevent an applicant in that situation from taking the oath. The time between the decision and taking of the oath is typically two to three months. However, the rule only applies to applications received after June 11, 2015, when the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act came into force, and not to applications received before that date.

The proposed change would require all applicants to continue to meet the requirements of citizenship until they take the Oath, regardless of when their application was received.

  • Ability to Seize DocumentsUnlike existing authorities under the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act, citizenship officers did not have the authority to seize fraudulent documents.  This Bill would change that, giving citizenship officers authority under the Citizenship Act to seize fraudulent documents provided during the administration of the Act, including during in-person interviews and hearings. This improves the ability for Citizenship officers to carry out investigations and prevent further use of fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.

Major changes to Canada’s immigration system expected in fall, says Minister John McCallum

Mississauga News

By Nouman Khalil

NX-BM-SAF-Immigration_2___GalleryThe Trudeau government is ready to introduce changes to the current
immigration system, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship John McCallum announced Wednesday while visiting Peel region.
McCallum’s visit to Peel was part of the government’s nationwide consultation process to bring essential changes to the immigration policy that was promised by the Liberal Party during the 2015 election campaign.
In Brampton and Mississauga, the minister met local members of parliament and stakeholders and discussed issues related to immigration. Top of the agenda is speeding up the process of family class immigration.
 “We’re working to meet our single most important commitment to reduce the processing time for family class,” said McCallum. “Right now, it takes approximately two years for a husband and wife to be reunited… it is unacceptable.”
McCallum said the Liberal government inherited a system that is presently creating concerns within the community and his team is working to streamline it by introducing a new and improved policy.
The new system – with changes to family and skilled class, economic category as well as visitors’ visa policy – is expected to be introduced in the coming fall season.
“We want to streamline the admission of economic immigrants as well as refugees and family class. We are going to make it much easier for international students to become permanent residents,” said the Markham-Thornhill MP.
In competition with other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, he said the government currently working to give international students more points and make it easier for them to come to Canada.
“International students are at the top of the government’s list to become permanent residents because they are young, educated, and fluent in English or French,” said McCallum, adding the government is also working to improve visitors’ visa procedures, which are creating problems, especially in Chandigarh, India.
“Chandigarh is not the only place facing problems. We are determined to make it easier for people – particularly for visitor visas, weddings and funerals. We are determined to find a timely solution for it. Soon we will have a much quicker entry process,” said McCallum.
The minister said it’s a great achievement that the Trudeau government recently brought in 25,000 Syrian refugees in just four months on humanitarian grounds.
“The project has gone very well. It really makes me proud to be a Canadian because so many Canadians have come out to support this project. We stand out as a country that has truly welcomed refugees,” said McCallum.