Immigration to Canada: The Year in Review

December 21, 2016

By Canadian Immigration News |

2016 has been a remarkable year, and 2017 promises to bring even more positive news for individuals and families immigrating to Canada

Canadian immigration programs can be segmented into three broad categories, namely the economic programs, the Family Class programs, and refugee/humanitarian programs. In all three categories, 2016 can be described as an exceptional year. The new Liberal government saw opportunities to improve programs across the board and, by working in tandem with provincial partners, they managed to increase the number of new arrivals, reduce processing times, and give more people the opportunity to fulfil their life dream of coming to Canada.

Of course, it’s the details that matter. Just how did this positive Canadian vision for immigration come about? Who was involved, who benefited, and why? Let’s cast our minds back to this time last year.


As the year began, the new government had only been in office for two months. John McCallum had been named as the new Minister of Immigration, and one of the first acts was to re-brand what had been known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It was around this time that IRCC was heavily focused on the government’s election promise to settle tens of thousands of refugees from Syria, an effort that was widely commended and ultimately successful.

On the Family Class front, the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) application cycle proved immensely popular, with IRCC accepting 10,000 applications for processing after more than 14,000 applications were received within three days.

There were also developments in the economic programs. Quebec loosened the eligibility criteria for its skilled worker program and launched a new online application management system called Mon Projet Québec, Alberta began accepting new applications again under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program, and the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program reopened all categories, some of which reached their intake caps within days. In addition, there were three Express Entry draws, with a total of 4,449 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) issued in January alone.


2016 was a year in which the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) became more dynamic than ever before. In February, British Columbia launched its Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS), a new system for ranking and selecting workers and international graduates through most categories of the BC PNP. This includes categories aligned with the federal Express Entry system, as well as certain ‘base’ categories that are processed outside that system. Over the course of the year (up to the time of writing), BC has issued more than 6,000 Invitations to Apply for immigration to the province through the SIRS.

The federal Express Entry system continued to invite candidates to apply for permanent residence. The lowest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cut-off threshold in February was 453.


The government of Canada released its 2016 Immigration Levels Plan early in March, setting a target of up to 305,000 new immigrants over the course of the year. At the time, this was a record target number in modern Canadian history. More than half of these newcomers would come through the economic programs, while there were significant target increases under the Family Class and refugee/humanitarian categories. Minister McCallum said the government’s goal was to “bring in immigrants who wish to build a better Canada.”

The government also made commitments to reduce processing times, remove the conditional permanent residence provision from certain sponsored spouses and common-law partners, and ease the pathway to permanent residence for international students and graduates in Canada.

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