New measures to address Canada’s labour shortage
April 22, 2022—Saint John, New Brunswick – As Canada continues to recover from the pandemic, employers are actively looking to fill hundreds of thousands of vacant positions in all sectors across the country. Immigration is more important than ever to fuel Canada’s economy, as our strong economic growth is now outpacing our ability to find and keep workers. Canada is a top destination for global talent. We need to use this fact to ensure that businesses and employers have access to the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.
Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that Express Entry draws will soon resume and that invitations for candidates to apply for permanent residence will begin in early July.
Travel restrictions throughout most of 2020 and 2021 delayed the processing of overseas applications, which led to an increase in the size of the processing inventory. To manage this inventory, we temporarily paused invitations to apply under the federal high-skilled streams, including the Canadian experience class, federal skilled worker class and federal skilled trades class. Invitations to apply will resume in early July, and the vast majority of new applications will be processed within the 6-month service standard.
As a result of the temporary pause, the federal high-skilled processing inventory has been cut by more than half, decreasing from approximately 111,900 people in September 2021 to just 48,000 people by March 2022. This inventory will be further reduced by July 2022, allowing us to return to the service standards that our clients expect.
Minister Fraser also announced today a new temporary policy that will give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status an opportunity to stay in Canada longer, so that they can continue to gain work experience and have a better chance at qualifying for permanent residency. Starting in summer 2022, former international students who are in Canada and have a post-graduation work permit expiring between January and December 2022 will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months. We are exploring a simplified, expeditious process for this, and details will be made available in the weeks ahead.
These talented and skilled international graduates play a vital role in addressing our labour shortage, and those nearing the end of their post-graduation work permit are already well-integrated into Canada’s labour market and work in key industries across the country. Tens of thousands are able to successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including more than 157,000 former students who became permanent residents in 2021, with more than 88,000 of them transitioning directly from a post-graduation work permit to permanent status.
This additional open work permit will allow applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy, helping address our labour shortage while gaining valuable work experience and preparing their Express Entry profiles.
To help bring even more skilled workers quickly to Canada, we have doubled the number of permanent residence decisions made in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same time period in 2021. From January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2022, we have made over 156,000 final decisions on permanent residence applications and, through these efforts, Canada welcomed over 113,000 new permanent residents in the first quarter of 2022.
We have also processed more than 100,000 work permit applications in the first quarter of 2022, nearly doubling the number processed over the same time period in 2021.
Through another temporary public policy implemented in August 2020, foreign nationals in Canada as visitors have been able to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave Canada. Recognizing that those with visitor status in Canada may also wish to stay and find meaningful employment, this temporary public policy has been extended to February 28, 2023.
Finally, the Minister announced new measures for those who applied for permanent residence through the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway last year. The limited-time pathway was launched in 2021 to invite a broad range of individuals already working in Canada to apply to stay permanently. While closed to new applications since November 2021, the processing of applications will continue for some time.
Taking effect this summer, the policy changes announced today include:
- Applicants will no longer be required to remain in Canada while their application is being processed.
- Applicants who apply for an open work permit while waiting for their permanent residence application to be finalized will be able to get work permits valid until the end of 2024. This will ensure that all permanent residence applications will be finalized before applicants will need to apply to extend their temporary status again.
- To support family reunification, immediate family members who are outside Canada and who were included in a principal applicant’s permanent residence application will be eligible for their own open work permit.
These measures support the government’s broader effort to ensure Canadian employers have the workers they need while addressing our labour shortage, and build on Minister Qualtrough’s recent announcements on the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map.