Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty announced that almost 300,000 people will have their Canadian visa applications returned to them.
30 March 2012
Canadian visa applications made prior to 2008 to be rejected
As part of the federal budget announced this week, the government will be rejecting almost 300,000 people who applied for a Canadian visa before 2008 in an effort to tackle the backlog of applications.
The move, which will see applications returned to the applicants along with refunds totalling CA$130 million (£81.5 million) in Canadian visa application fees, is part of the government's attempt to reform the immigration system.
"Canada risks losing the global talent competition for the world's best and brightest as potential immigrations choose to take their skills to other countries with more responsive immigration systems rather than remain in the queue to have their applications processed in Canada," said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Thursday's budget.
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney has repeatedly stated his intention to reform the Canadian immigration system and while some changes have already been made in an attempt to prioritise skilled workers or those migrants who can fill gaps in the labour market, the government feels the needed reform cannot be completed with such an extensive backlog of applications.
Expected changes in the reform also include ensuring Canadian employers try their best to recruit Canadian citizens before being allowed to recruit internationally. Any new system is widely expected to be built with restrictions limiting an employer's ability to recruit internationally if there are Canadians available.
The Canadian government's commitment to reforming the immigration system can be seen in the lack of lack of cuts applied to the immigration department's budget. All departments prior to the budget were expected to slash between five and 10 percent from their operating budgets yet the immigration department escaped with just a 6% cut, the least of all five departments.
The full plan, which will be reportedly released in the coming months, still includes austerity measures amounting to CA$179 million (£112 million) with much of the savings coming from "reducing overhead costs and continuing to streamline operations and programme delivery," according to Mr Flaherty.
"Our government will reform Canada's immigration system to make it faster and more efficient," said Mr Flaherty. "We will ensure it is designed, above all, to strengthen Canada's economy. As a result we will be better able to fill gaps in our labour force. We will attract more of the entrepreneurs we need to create good jobs and long term economic growth."
The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.