A number of years ago, Canada had an immigration program known as the “Assisted Relative” program. Under this program, individuals with relatives in Canada would be awarded “points” for certain characteristics. If the individual manage to score above a certain point threshold, he/she would be eligible to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident.
When the Assisted Relative program was done away with, elements of this program were continued on by the federal government. While the number of points that were available for individuals with relatives to Canada were not as high, points were still awarded for these individuals. As a result, individuals with the exact same characteristics in terms of education, work experience, age and language ability were given less points if the identical individual had relatives in Canada. In fact, because of the number of points that had to be scored, many individuals could not succeed in immigrating to Canada without having a relative here.
With the freeze on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Skilled Worker program as of July 1, 2012, the last remnant of the old Assisted Relative program has now disappeared. In order to immigrate to Canada on a permanent basis, individuals must show some previous employment history or education in Canada or must have a government approved job offer from a Canadian employer that would allow them to work in Canada upon arrival.
While the federal Assisted Relative program is now essentially dead, there are still some provincial nominee program that allows family members to immigrate to Canada without acquiring a job offer. One these programs in Manitoba’s family support stream. The question is: how long will this stream last?
At the beginning of May, two of the provincial nominee programs that offered a family type of immigrant stream changed their criteria. Saskatchewan’s program now requires that an individual have an offer of employment in a high skill level occupation or in a designated trade in order to qualify under their “Family Referral” program.
Newfoundland and Labrador, on the same day, discontinued its “Family Connections” program. While Newfoundland and Labrador has indicated that they may make changes to their Skilled Worker program to accommodate the cancellation of their family connections program, their current skilled worker program requires individuals to have a job offer before being able to immigrate under that program. Essentially, the changes made by Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador have changed their “Assisted Relative” program to employer driven immigration program.
The change of the Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador family programs follows the lead of Alberta who made the same change when they cancelled their family stream in 2010.
These changes bring the family programs in these provinces more in line with existing family programs in other provinces. For the most part, immigration programs that call themselves “Family” programs outside of Manitoba are essentially employer driven programs. While having family members can be of assistance, without a job offer or current job in Canada, applicants under these programs will not qualify.
The question as to how long the Manitoba program will last is interesting. After Saskatchewan changed its program, the Canada’s Immigration Minister seemed to draw a connection between provinces who restrict the number of extended family members that come to Canada with increases the federal government will allow in the number of immigrants that a province can nominate.
In this article from the Regina Leader Post Kenney backs Sask. immigration change, shortly after Saskatchewan changed its program, the Immigration Minister stated the following:
“Our message to this and other provinces has and will continue to be that if you work with us to maximize the value of the provincial nominee allocations you have, if you work with business to actually nominate people to fill acute skill shortages rather than bringing in 20 or 30 people from an extended family, then we’ll work with you in the future on some modest increases to the (provincial nominee) allocation,”
Later on in the interview, the Regina Leader Post also reported that Jason Kenney said the following:
“The whole point of the provincial nominee program is to fill jobs that don’t have workers and it’s to help business to look abroad to bring in folks that can go to work upon arrival. It is not to bring in everyone’s second and third cousin,”
What exactly do these quotes imply? Does this imply that provinces who “play ball” will be given more provincial nominees in coming years? Does this also imply that provinces like Manitoba, will not get an increase in their allotment of provincial nominees if they maintain their current programs? Does this mean that the allocation of provincial nominees to province’s who maintain these programs could even decrease?Only time will tell.