Canada bumping up fees for permanent residency. Here’s what to know

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It will become a tad more expensive to move to Canada with permanent residency come May.

On April 5, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) updated on their website that Canada was increasing fees for all permanent residence (PR) applications, including economic, permit holder, family and humanitarian classes.

The change will come into effect on April 30, meaning that those hoping to make the move to this country after that date will have to shell out extra for the process.

What is PR and who can apply?

A permanent resident (PR) is someone who is not a Canadian citizen but has the right to live and work in this country without a deadline on their stay.

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Such a person holds most of the same rights as a Canadian citizen — they receive many of the same social benefits, including becoming contributing members of the Canada Pension Plan and receiving coverage by their province or territory’s universal health care system.

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What they do not enjoy, however, is the right to vote in Canadian elections. They cannot run for elected office at any level of government, either. Nor can they hold jobs in the public or private sector that require high-level security clearance — for matters related to national security. They are also not eligible to join the Canadian Armed Forces or the police.

To become a permanent resident of Canada, one needs to apply to IRCC under one of their several programs available for foreign nationals. The programs include Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Program and Quebec Skilled Workers, Atlantic Immigration Class, Economic Pilots, Live-in Caregiver Program and Caregivers Pilots, Business (Federal and Quebec), Family Reunification, Protected Persons, Humanitarian and Compassionate, among others.

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Why is Canada upping the fees?

The move to increase fees is not new.

These cost hikes are meant to make sure that Canada remains at par and well-aligned with the fees charged by other immigrant-receiving countries with somewhat similar immigration systems, such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, among others.

It also contributes greatly to Canada’s economy, according to Canada’s immigration minister.

Canada’s successive governments have relied on immigration to drive economic growth in the face of a declining fertility rate, which hit a record low in 2020. With the pandemic triggering early retirements among aging Canadians, attracting immigrants has grown more important. Also, the country targets high-skilled immigrants who tend to bring in money and earn enough to compete for desirable housing.

“Canada needs immigration to create jobs and drive our economic recovery,” Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in December, last year. “It’s not just that one in three Canadian businesses are owned by an immigrant, but also that newcomers are helping to tackle labor shortages.”

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Starting 2020, Canada has been upping permanent residence fees every two years. At that time, it was announced that the fees would go up once in two years to account for inflation.

According to the IRCC website, the Canadian government “supports a cost-effective approach to financing government programs.” These hikes, therefore, “are the responsibility of those who receive the services and benefit directly from them” and does in no way impact taxpayers.

The next fee hike on the federal level can be expected in 2024.

How much is the difference?

The current right to permanent residence fee for a principal applicant and accompanying spouse or common-law partner is $500. This is set to become $515 as of April 30.

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For Federal High Skilled, Provincial Nominee Program and Quebec Skilled Workers, Atlantic Immigration Class and most Economic Pilots, including Rural and Agri-Food, the new fee for principal applicants will be $850 instead of $825. The accompanying spouses or common-law partners will also now pay $850. For an accompanying dependent child, the cost will be $230 as opposed to the previous $225.

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For those under the Live-in Caregiver Program and Caregivers Pilots, the principal applicant will be required to pay $570 instead of $550, and so will their spouse or common-law partner. The fee for a dependent child will be $155, up from the previous $150. More details can be found on the IRCC website.

For permanent resident cards, permanent resident travel documents and certification or replacement immigration documents, the fees will remain the same.

What is Canada doing to support the process?

As part of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, the federal government has pledged $2.1 billion over five years and an ongoing $317.6 million in new funding in Budget 2022 to support the processing and settlement of new permanent residents in the country.

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In 2021 — despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global migration — Canada was able to welcome more than 405,000 new permanent residents, the greatest number of newcomers in a year in Canadian history, according to the IRRC.

In an email to Global News, the IRCC confirmed that they have surpassed their “goal to make 147,000 permanent residence final decisions in the first quarter of 2022 — doubling the number of final decisions in the same time period in 2021.”

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“From January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2022, we made over 156,000 final decisions on permanent resident applications,” a spokesperson from IRCC told Global News.

Canada has welcomed at least 113,000 new permanent resident admissions in the first quarter of 2022, he said, adding that the IRCC is aiming for a “more integrated, modernized and centralized working environment in order to help speed up application processing globally.”

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“Supported by additional funding of $85 million from the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, we are continuing our efforts to reduce application inventories accumulated during the pandemic.”

The funding from the government helps build “on the work that has already been done to reduce wait times, such as hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications, and reallocating work among our offices around the world, he said.

— with files from Reuters 

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