Immigration system begins ‘fundamental overhaul’

A massive change to Canada’s immigration system – one sure to affect many east Vancouver residents – entered its first phase on the last day of January.

The Express Entry system, which officially started on Jan. 1, released its first draw of permanent resident applicants on Jan. 31. This initial draw allowed 779 people to apply for permanent residency based on their Comprehensive Ranking System scores.

Geoff Meggs, Vancouver city councillor, said that this is part of a “fundamental overhaul of [the] immigration system”

“It raises questions as to whether family reunification continues to be possible as it has in the past,” said Meggs. “It won’t matter how long that person has been waiting and it won’t matter if that person has family over here waiting. If they’re not picked by an employer they’re not going to come.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will choose who can apply for residency based on a number of limiting factors, including language proficiency, education and job offers. Now only the candidates who are most likely to succeed will be given the opportunity to apply.

Libby Davies, NDP MP for the Vancouver East riding, said that immigration matters are the most time consuming issues she deals with. East Vancouver has historically been a more affordable area, and has a higher population of immigrants than the rest of Vancouver.

“The immigration office is under-resourced so there are massive backlogs and people are left to wait a very long time to be reunited with family members,” Davies said. “I think that the new Express Entry program … will impact many constituents.  In some ways, the changes are positive and in others, not so much.”

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