Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a review of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), as part of the recently unveiled strategy, "An Immigration System for Canada's Future."
This strategy [An Immigration System for Canada's Future] lays out the planned changes over the next few years to enhance processing efficiency and adopt a more holistic approach to immigration. The review falls under three main pillars:
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) serves as the foundation for Canada's immigration system, outlining the operational framework for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Potential revisions to IRPA, within the context of creating a more inviting experience for newcomers, involve efforts to modernize, streamline, ensure fairness, enhance transparency, maintain predictability, and expedite processes.
IRCC emphasizes the necessity to assess the potential need for legislative amendments or reforms, considering that IRPA underpins the majority of the department's programs, policies, and procedures. The legislation, enacted in 2002, has not undergone a comprehensive review in the 21 years since its inception.
The current iteration of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was introduced in June 2002, replacing the Immigration Act that had been in place since 1976. The Immigration Act underwent multiple revisions during its tenure as Canada's primary immigration law.
The establishment of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) sought to address the need for clearer and more contemporary legislation, ensuring that Canada's immigration and refugee protection system remains adaptable to emerging challenges and opportunities. Additionally, IRPA aimed to provide a more precise delineation of the key categories of foreign nationals, including the economic class, family class, and convention refugees, along with individuals in similar circumstances.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) encompasses legislation governing virtually all aspects of the responsibilities of the immigration minister and the execution of these duties. According to the strategy, a review of IRPA is seen to eliminate barriers to welcoming individuals essential for Canada's future needs. For instance, IRPA's provisions enable the creation of new immigration pathways, such as the recently introduced category-based Express Entry selection process. An update could potentially facilitate the establishment of more specialized pathways for newcomers possessing in-demand skills.
Additionally, IRPA delineates the collaboration between Canada's federal and provincial governments in sharing responsibilities for immigration. Agreements between IRCC and provinces, particularly through Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), allow provincial governments to nominate economic immigrants. By law, the Minister must consult with the provinces to determine the number of nominations, considering regional economic and demographic requirements. An updated IRPA could mandate more consultations with stakeholders like settlement services to assess Canada's capacity to integrate newcomers, aligning with the Strategy's objective of a comprehensive government approach to immigration.
Consultations also influence the federal Immigration Levels Plan, which sets permanent resident admission targets. By law, this plan must be released annually on or by November 1st in non-election years. The recently released plan for 2024-2026 aims to admit 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 annually in 2025 and 2026, with Immigration Minister Marc Miller emphasizing the plan's role in growing and stabilizing Canada's economy.
Finally, IRPA dictates the legislation regarding application submission, encompassing technology, format, and processes. A review and update of these regulations can enhance the department's ability to meet the current and future surges in demand for immigration applications.
Despite the absence of a comprehensive review, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) has undergone amendments to address the recent surge in immigration demand in Canada. An instance of this is the 2022 amendment to IRPA, empowering the immigration minister to issue Invitations to Apply to Express Entry candidates possessing a human capital attribute aligned with one of the six newly introduced categories:
These categories are consistent with IRPA's goal of maximizing the economic benefits of immigration for Canada. By selecting newcomers with sought-after skills in high-demand sectors, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can contribute to supporting and fortifying the national economy.