Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen talks about success of provincial pilot programs and waiving Canadian citizenship fees

Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen talks about success of provincial pilot programs and waiving Canadian citizenship fees

2019 October 3, Toronto: In a privileged one-on-one interview on October 3, 2019, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Hon. Ahmed Hussen, of the Liberal Party, presented priorities should Canadian voters return them to power on October 21.

The priorities are:

  • Launching of “Municipal Nominee Program;”
  • Proposal for making Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent; and
  • Waiving Canadian citizenship application fee for permanent residents;

The Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Member of Parliament (MP) of the Canadian Parliament representing the York South –Weston riding as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, is an appointed Minister of Immigration in the government cabinet since January 2017.

The Municipal Nominee Program

The launch of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in 1999 played a significant role in promoting immigration to smaller provinces such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and those in Atlantic Canada. However, immigrants tend to settle in Canada’s largest cities predominantly.

With a few exceptions, most provinces saw at least 80 percent of their immigrants go to one city. This results in smaller municipalities struggling to address their labour force needs through immigration.

Recent pilots launched by the Liberals, such as the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), and Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), proved popular amongst Canada’s smaller provinces. 

The RNIP is community-driven. Communities take the lead in attracting new immigrants and matching them with local job vacancies. It promotes a welcoming community and connecting newcomers to established members of the city and its settlement services. 

Minister Hussen states that a minimum of 5,000 new spaces will be dedicated to the Municipal Nominee Program (MNP). This program will involve the Chambers of Commerce in the process of recommendation and selection of skilled workers.

Like the RNIP, the MNP might then enable designated municipalities to “recommend” immigrants who have a job offer and ties to the city. The federal government would then review the qualifications of such immigrants to ensure they meet specific requirements such as language proficiency, educational credentials, and work experience.

Make the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) permanent

The pilot is scheduled to last three years but based on the success of the program recorded since mid-2018, there was a demand to accept even more than the quota of 2,000 newcomers. This record of growth motivated the Minister for Immigration to deem the program permanent.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) is a pathway to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers and international graduates. It accepts applicants who want to work and live in one of Canada’s 4 Atlantic Provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

The AIP is an employer-driven program designed to help employers in Atlantic Canada hire qualified candidates for jobs they have been unable to fill locally.

Waive Citizenship Fees

A permanent resident of Canada is eligible to apply for citizenship after they have been physically present in the country for at least 1,095 days during the five years before submitting their application.

Along with their application, they must pay a fee of $530 for adults in January 2015, plus a “right of citizenship fee” of $100.

Critics have argued that the higher fee has made it more difficult for immigrants with lower incomes to gain citizenship.

Analysis conducted by Andrew Griffith, a leading researcher on Canadian citizenship policy, suggests the higher fee is among the reasons why citizenship applications have declined in recent years. Other deterrent factors included more stringent residency, language, and citizenship test requirements, which the Liberals reformed in 2017.

The promise to waive the fees altogether is part of those earlier efforts to reform the Citizenship Act and make acquiring citizenship as accessible as possible regardless of socio-economic factors such as age and income.

Waiving the citizenship fees would result in a significantly higher number of permanent residents to become citizens, hence, increasing immigration levels.

Lastly, moving forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration, Minister Hussen announced in 2017, the Government of Canada will welcome nearly one million immigrants over the next years.

The Liberal Party is suggesting Canada’s intake could trend even closer toward the 400,000-newcomer level in the final years of a renewed Liberal mandate (i.e., 2022 and 2023).

The planned increases were set to reflect needs in the economic class of immigration to aid with Canada’s labour shortages, as well as in humanitarian streams of migration.

The above priorities were the results of consultations with people and listening to their concerns. 

Hon. Ahmed D. Hussen believes: “Immigrants create jobs, they fill unfilled jobs in our communities, and they add to our demographic and social mix. And this is why we’re one of the best countries in the world, because we found a way to balance the priority of keeping Canadians safe and secure, but also we are open to those who would come to our country to lend us their skills and talents, and to make Canada an even more prosperous and stronger country.” ###

By: Marites de Jesus, Managing Editor