Canada’s Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum made a groundbreaking announcement on 1 September 2016 that is set to benefit international students and their families. He even hinted at the possibility of other changes in Canada immigration policy, like increasing the number of migrants Canada will accept in the near future, quicker processing of family reunification applications, and increasing funding for resettlement programs.
According to him, international students deserve more than what they are currently getting, especially for those pursuing post-secondary education in Canada! “They are young, can speak English or French and know about Canada. So, we’re going to give them more points under express entry and make it easier for them to become permanent residents,” he said. He also mentioned that the government is working to introduce a system that would speed-up the accreditation process of foreign degrees.
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Another major commitment the Canadian government intends to pursue is reducing processing times for family reunification. In the recent past, Canada’s family sponsorship programs for parents and grandparents have been unnecessarily lengthy, resulting in separating families. Many high profile cases have drawn attention to this issue, compelling the government to seek remedies.
Coming back to the issue of international students, there is no doubt that with an aging population at hand, Canada does need more young migrants. Currently, one of the main requirements for a Canadian citizenship application is physical residency in Canada. Apart from increasing the residency prerequisite from three to four years, Bill C-24 also discarded a provision that allowed 50 percent of the time spent in Canada on a work/study visa as extra points to get the citizenship.
Most believe this policy is unfair and needs to change. According to the University of Toronto student newspaper, The Varsity, international students should be eligible for citizenship by the end of their degrees. During their degree tenure, students would have spent enough time in the country to explore and understand the rights and responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen.
The Minister’s consultations across the country are also in agreement with this perspective. He has promised that the current immigration policy is set to change soon in the fall season. The plan, so far, is to admit up to 305,000 people in 2016.