Immigration instructions to
be governed by fairness, consultation
April 8, 2008 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration, released today the principles that would
guide implementation of proposed changes to the Immigration and
Refugee Protection Act. The aim of the changes is to modernize
Canada’s immigration system and significantly reduce the time it takes
to bring newcomers and their families to Canada. Under proposed
changes to the Act, the Minister would have the authority to issue
instructions to immigration officers related to the processing of
applications, including in relation to the jobs available in Canada,
so that people with those skills and experience can be brought to
Canada more quickly.
In this way, newcomers will have more opportunities to find work
sooner, to provide a better life for themselves and their families and
to benefit more from life in Canada.
“These principles will ensure that ministerial instructions today
and in the future remain fair, open and transparent,” said Minister
Finley. “The instructions are about making the immigration system more
responsive. Our objective is to continue to ensure that families are
reunited and that qualified workers get here sooner, while respecting
the fundamental principle of fairness.”
Ministerial instructions on prioritizing and processing immigration
applications received after February 27, 2008, will:
- Identify priority occupations based on input from provinces and
territories, the Bank of Canada, Human Resources and Social
Development Canada, employers and organized labour.
- Ensure fairness by making decisions on cases faster, while
meeting immediate labour market needs.
- Respect the goals of the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act, which are to support Canada’s economy and competitiveness,
support family reunification and uphold Canada’s humanitarian
- Comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
which prevents discrimination based on factors such as race, country
of origin and religion.
- Respect commitments to provinces and territories regarding the
Provincial Nominee Program and the Canada-Quebec Accord.
- Complement commitments made in Advantage Canada, the Government
of Canada’s economic plan, to align the immigration system with
labour market needs.
- Be published in the Canada Gazette and Citizenship and
Immigration Canada’s annual report, which is tabled in Parliament.
All instructions issued by the Minister to immigration officers
must adhere to these principles. They must also be approved by Cabinet
before they are published. Immigration officers would select from
among new applications based on the instructions. They will continue
to make decisions about individual applications. The Minister can not
reverse the decisions of immigration officers or influence them in any
way other than what is clearly outlined in the instructions.
The instructions are part of Budget 2008 commitments to modernize
the immigration system to respond to Canada’s labour-market needs,
reduce wait times for new applicants and reduce the backlog of
“We’ve allocated $109 million over five years to help meet these
goals,” said Minister Finley. “And we’ll hire and train more visa
officers to act as SWAT teams to speed up processing in parts of the
world where wait times are the longest.”
To help alleviate immediate pressures, resources will be allocated
to missions where there is a high volume of applications. As a start,
some missions, such as Delhi and Manila, will receive additional
resources to help improve wait times for permanent residence
applications, international students and temporary foreign workers.
Ongoing funding will help build capacity to meet future levels and
increasing demand, and will introduce administrative improvements such
as centralized processing and data entry.
The amendments, once passed, will apply to applications received on
or after February 27, 2008. Those who applied before February 27, 2008
will be dealt with under the existing rules.
For more information on
programs, consult our website at
For further information (media only), please contact:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada