Canada to Get New Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander, who started his career in 1993 as a foreign services officer stationed in Russia, will replace Jason Kenney to become the new Citizenship and Immigration Minister (Government of Canada)

The federal government announced a major cabinet shuffle on Monday which will see Jason Kenney, the current Citizenship and Immigration Minister, move to the Department of Employment and Social Development, which will be the new name for the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC).

Chris Alexander, who is currently the MP for the district of Ajax-Pickering, will become the new Citizenship and Immigration Minister. Alexander has never held a Minister position before, but has spent 18 years as a Canadian diplomat where he had proximity to Canada’s foreign visa missions.

During Kenney’s tenure as Immigration Minister, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) saw major reforms in immigration procedures and rules, that attempted to better match selected immigrants with skills in demand in the Canadian economy, reduce the backlog in the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and reduce the processing times of applications.

Kenney also pushed to reduce fraud and abuse of Canada’s immigration and refugee programs through various reforms including new marriage sponsorship rules and expedited deportation of bogus asylum claimants from E.U. countries.

Immigration Canada Launches Online Consultations to Improve Federal Investor Program

The federal government is launching online consultations today to get feedback from the public on how to improve the federal Immigrant Investor Program.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) today launched an online consultation campaign to solicit input from the Canadian public on ways to modify the federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) to increase the benefit it provides to the country.

“We can no longer be a passive player in the global competition for talent and investment. That is why we need to review our immigration programs to create dynamic opportunities that enable immigrants’ investments to directly benefit the Canadian economy,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a statement put out today.

Acceptance of new applications under the federal IIP was temporarily suspended on July 1st to give the federal government time to revamp the program to address shortcomings it had according to the Immigration Ministry.

One change that CIC has signalled it is considering is requiring immigrant investors to make an active investment in the Canadian economy. The current investment requirement for applicants under the IIP is to provide an interest-free loan of $800,000 to a province or territory for five years, which CIC representatives have argued is too passive and does not contribute enough to the Canadian economy.

The online consultations are open to the public until September 4th 2012, and CIC says it is planning to re-open the investor program in the beginning of the 2013.

Canadian Government to Legislate Elimination of 280,000 Immigration Applications

The Conservative government proposed to eliminate 280,000 applications filed before February 27th 2008 for the Federal Skilled Worker Program in last Thursday’s federal budget.

If this proposal is approved, as it is expected to be, the hundreds of thousands of applicants affected will either have to give up on their hopes of immigrating to Canada or re-apply under new immigration rules.

For the last few years, the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry has been searching for a way to solve the massive backlog in the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has previously suggested that Canada adopt New Zealand’s approach and legislate an end to the backlog. With Thursday’s announcment, that option has officially been selected.

The wipe-out will cost the Canadian government $130 million in the refunding of application fees paid by those who applied under the Federal Skilled Worker Program before the February 27th 2008 cut-off date and whose files are being closed.

Mr. Kenney says the new immigration system that will replace the current one after the backlog has been eliminated will create a pool of immigration applicants and allow provinces to nominate those who they believe are most promising to have their application fast-tracked.

The Canadian government believes this will create an immigration system that is more responsive to the needs of Canadian employers and select applicants that have skills more greatly demanded by the Canadian economy.