Editorial: Another immigration blunder

As the federal government continues to toy with the immigration system, it seems the landscape never stops shifting for those who hope to settle in Canada.

Earlier this year, it launched the new express-entry program to manage certain applications for permanent residence. The new program puts greater emphasis on job offers and has the potential to speed up processing times. But as Law Times reported earlier this month, after three draws from the pool of interested candidates, the federal government had invited just 2,400 people to apply for permanent residence.

But recent media reports have noted a further concern. In most cases, applicants with a job offer will need what the government calls a labour market impact assessment to ensure the employer has made efforts to hire Canadians for the position. Given the criticisms of the temporary foreign worker program, that’s a valid concern.
But the express-entry program isn’t about bringing in temporary workers. The goal here is different: permanent residence in Canada.

The changes have been particularly difficult for foreign post-secondary students. Under the program, the government awards 600 of a maximum 1,200 points to those who have a positive labour market impact assessment. With the few who have received invitations under the program so far having scored more than 800 points, that means applicants essentially need a positive labour market impact assessment to be successful.

The changes go against those brought in by the government when it introduced the Canadian experience class just a few years ago. The new class made it much easier for foreign students who have completed their degrees to stay and become permanent residents, something that made sense given their qualifications, integration into Canada already, and obvious language abilities.

The program also made it easier for post-secondary institutions to attract students to come here and pay much higher tuition than everyone else. With funding scarce, foreign students are an important alternative source of revenue for schools. It seems shortsighted, then, for the federal government to now reverse course.

While this is just one more among a barrage of changes, the government should reconsider the express-entry program as it applies to foreign students. We should be making it easier for them to stay permanently rather than putting up a major barrier.
— Glenn Kauth

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