Canadian Immigration Categories: A Historical and Social Perspective for Immigration to Canada

Sometimes it is important it take a step back and gain some perspective about why we do what we do. As immigration lawyers, we handle thousands of immigration and visa applications. There are a lot of technical issues to think about on a daily basis in order to properly process these applications. To do our job we have to consult the immigration regulations and manuals to make sure things go smoothly. Often I think about what is behind all these rules and regulations etc. The answer is more “big picture stuff” like demographics, policy and politics. Below is some perspective on the “big picture” that may help answer some questions about the why things are the way they are in the context of Canadian immigration.  

The population shortage in Canada has led to a very positive attitude towards enticing immigrants to live and do business in the Great White North. After World War II,  Canada accepted large numbers of refugees, known then as “Displaced Persons,” from destroyed European countries. They were Italians, Poles, Czechs, and others who wanted to be accepted in a country without war, where they could build a new life.

Life was and is comparatively good in their new home: Canada is a top-ranked country, often reaching the number one place to live in the world based on key measures. Universal health care is a major benefit, with basic access for all. The environment is cleaner than other places, the education system is excellent, neighborhoods are generally safe, and there’s overall racial harmony and equality in the workplace. It goes without saying that nobody is considered a target because of where he or she from.

That tradition has brought a wide diversity of ethnic communities; thirty-six separate ethnicities have populations of over 100,000 in Canada. Almost every country in the world is represented within the population.

Decades later, the population is still shrinking at a rate of 1.5% so hard-working new citizens are needed to make the economy work. The economic class of immigrants is desirable to bring money and skills into the country. Someone moving here to work is expected to have money to survive for six months. Entry to Canada usually starts with a temporary residence in Canada such as work permit or visa applications, which later can lead to Canadian permanent resident status. There are thirty-eight skilled job classificationspursued by Immigration Canada as worthy of fast-track processing under the Skilled Worker Category.

There is a liberal policy to allow Family Class immigration to Canada. This is generally the easiest way to qualify for an immigrant visa. And once a person is a Canadian permanent resident it can be a fairly straightforward matter to bring certain relatives into the country. There may of course be complications which have to be assessed and managed by an immigration lawyer.

Another category for Canada Immigration is for Business Immigrants or for the Business Class, where an applicant typically immigrant owns at least a third of a business and has $300,000 in business assets. This is category is called Entrepreneur. The intent is to create new jobs for Canadians, thus stimulating the economy. The government needs taxpayers so this plan looks good on paper. In practice this can lead to abuse and it results in financial loss without the government realizing it.

There is also the Immigrant Investor Category where the applicant is required to have a net worth of at least $800.000Cnd and make an investment of $400,000Cnd for a 5 year period. This amount can be financed under certain conditions.  

In terms of statistics regarding the various immigration categories, here is a breakdown for a four-year period (2004-2008) of new residents to Canada: Family Class 65,567; Economic Immigrants 149,072; Refugees 21,860; other immigrants 10,742 – for a total of 247,243 people who have gone through the process in the last four years. Almost ten percent of those granted entry were refugees. Many who show up to claim refugee status remain in the country even if their claim is rejected. This is caused by a poorly-defined screening process that has resulted in tens of thousands of warrants and deportation orders (which are not usually enforced).

When dealing with governments it is always best to use the services of an immigration lawyer who deals in Canadian Immigration matters so that the correct procedure is followed the first time. Any mistake can force the applicant to begin all over again or worse, get a refusal from Canada Immigration. Therefore it is often  hiring a professional avoid lengthy delays in reprocessing or appealing. The immigration lawyer will know the most appropriate form to expedite the application. The odds are definitely in favor of the immigrant who knows where he or she going in terms of paperwork or procedure.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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