Select Page

28 March 2022 

Hon. Sean Fraser 

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship 

Confederation Building, Suite 110 
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON 
K1A 0A6 

Via email: sean.fraser@parl.gc.ca 

Re: Follow-up Questions – March 21, 2022 Roundtable with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce 

Dear Minister Fraser, 

Thank you again for joining the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce for a virtual roundtable discussion on 21 March 2022. As you know, immigration and population growth are key priorities for our community and indeed across Atlantic Canada. We appreciated your candid responses as well as the breadth and depth of knowledge you displayed during our conversation, and I hope we can connect again soon.  

During the roundtable, I committed to providing your office with the questions which were submitted to us, and I am providing those below in Appendix A. Once received, we will forward your responses to the questioners. We appreciate your time and all your efforts to improve Canada’s immigration system! 

Sincerely,   

Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce 

cc: Jenica Atwin, MP, Fredericton 

Appendix A – Submitted Questions 

Workforce / Entrepreneurship 

  1. The pandemic has caused many companies in the major cities to offer remote working options, causing New Brunswick companies to lose our talents (and we already had difficulties attracting and retaining here in NB). I see a good potential for international students to fill this gap, but we need to have policies for them to plan to stay here in NB such as fast track the immigration process, tax breaks if they stay and work so many years in the province, etc. Are there ways for the federal government to help retain more international students? 
  1. Will pandemic-related (lockdowns or otherwise) temporary layoffs affect permanent residency applications? One restaurant owner has multiple newcomers that are concerned that this may affect their applications that are in progress for PR and a few others that are required to work a minimum of 30 hours.  
  1. Considering the aging populations in Atlantic Canada, the New Brunswick Business Immigrant Association sees great potential in succession of existing business through landed immigrant investment, not only keeping the lights of business on succeeding aging and retiring business owners, but by also adding to our population growth strategies. Do you see the entrepreneurial stream through the Provincial Nominee programs still a viable priority for our economic growth and success? 

Processing 

  1. With the increase in immigration and the current backlog, there is a need for an additional processing office in the Maritimes to expedite immigration applications. We believe New Brunswick and especially Fredericton is an ideal location to have this office because it is the provincial capital, and the city also has the Canada’s most advanced networking and data fiber facility. Also, since there is already an IRCC office here, the new case processing office will allow IRCC to have a very good presence in the region so that immigration applications can be processed locally. We also anticipate a high number of applications since AIP is now permanent and an extra processing office will help expedite, prioritize, and finalize applications. 
  1. We have people whose applications for permanent residence, study permits, work permits, and spousal work permits have been delayed beyond the normal processing time. What is the cause of the lengthy processing time and is there a long-term plan to improve the immigration processing time for the different categories?  
  1. The Startup Visa program provides an opportunity to approve entrepreneurs to apply for a temporary work permit and permanent residency simultaneously. This is to ensure that the company can locate and begin work on their start-up in Canada without having to wait for PR which takes a considerably long time. However, since 2019, the work permit applications have been taking anywhere between 12 to 18 months to be processed while PR applications are taking over 2 years. Such lengthy processing times are not feasible for a start-up company which is driven by innovation and first mover advantage and are creating hurdles for companies that receive work permits but must wait a long time for PR before they are eligible to qualify for funding or business credit. Can this stream be prioritized for processing as the delays are negated the very purpose of the program? 
  1. Concerns have been raised re. access to provincial healthcare for Ukrainians coming through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) who as most will be seniors and women with children, who might not see themselves as requiring work permits and might not check the box to request a work permit. We’ve been told that in past movements it was possible to provide work permits with the application. Is that being considered for the CUAET to ensure those arriving will have access to provincial health care? 

International Students 

  1. It is our understanding that when applying to study in Canada, one part of the application process is for international students to check a box indicating that they plan to return to their home country after graduation. Meanwhile, attracting and retaining more international students is a key goal for every community with a post-secondary institution. In our opinion, this part of the application process contradicts our overall goals and sends the wrong message to potential new Canadians. Can this seemingly small but important issue be addressed? 
  1. What advice can you give to a Postgraduate International student who has completed his degree at UNB, is currently working full time in the province, gotten provincial nomination and applied for Permanent residency? His application has been in the system for 12months. He already applied for Bridging Open Work Permit to continue working but is at risk of losing his job and possibly being told to leave Canada because his PR and BOWP application has not been finalized. **Note** this candidate has requested for GCMS note, and it shows that he passed all background checks since October 2021 and has been awaiting eligibility and final approval. 
  1. Open Spousal Work Permit linked to Study Permit / PGWP: Spouses of International Students can qualify for an open work permit for the duration of the study permit.  These work permits are no longer valid when the International Student graduates.  Spouses must then apply for an open work permit based on the PGWP.  In many cases, these work permits will not be approved until the student can produce 3 consecutive pay stubs in a job which meets the required NOC codes.  This results in an interruption of household income while the international student is seeking permanent employment. Can this policy be reviewed to allow spouses to continue to work and support the household for an appropriate period while the new graduate is securing employment? 
  1. Working over the Summer:  To be eligible to work full time during a scheduled break (summer term), students must be enrolled full-time before and after the break.  If a student has started studying from outside Canada (without an active study permit) and then arrived for the summer term, does this make them eligible to work full time during the scheduled break? 
  1. Co-op Work Permit time eligibility:  The delayed processing times for Co-op Work permit applications is impacting the start date for International Students.  If a student has applied and is waiting for their Co-op Work permit to be approved, can they work full time during the summer and 20 hours per week during the Fall/Winter term, or do they have to wait until the Co-op Work permit is processed and they have received a hard copy? 
  1. When a prospective international student has their application for a study permit rejected, the information given to the individual is insufficient for them to know what the exact issue is with their application.  It is also insufficient to allow representatives from a post-secondary institution to provide any meaningful advice and guidance.  Is it possible to provide more particular/individual information when rejecting a study permit that would allow corrections to be made and/or additional information to be submitted with the next application? 
  1. Students applying for a study permit to come to Canadian post-secondary institutions for a partnership program are somewhat of a ‘known quantity’: nomination from host institution; a rigorous vetting process of the home institutions.  Can IRCC recognize partnership programs as an additional consideration when processing these study permit applications? 
  1. There are low study permit approval ratings for various countries… Nigeria, India, Bangladesh to name but a few.  This makes it difficult for post-secondary institutions to market and build relationships in these countries…. Again, it would be helpful if IRCC could recognize partnership programs as an additional consideration when processing these study permit applications. 
  1. The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce has advocated (and gained the support of the entire Canadian Chamber of Commerce) for more opportunities for international students to gain Canadian work experience while they are in school. This would not only help fill the labour gap, but also improve our chances of retaining them post-graduation. Some specific actions your government could take are: 
  1. Allow International students to qualify for the Canada Summer Jobs program and the Student Work Placement Program and participate in voluntary co-op terms and internships without obtaining a separate work permit  
  1. Make permanent and remove sectoral/industry restrictions for the temporary, pandemic-related measure that allows international students to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus  
  1. Allow part-time studies to count toward Post-Graduate Work Permit eligibility. 
  1. count all time spent in Canada as an international student towards citizenship eligibility (i.e increase from half time to full time) 

Are you prepared to look at some of these options to help improve our international student retention rate? 

  1. Does your government provide capital funding to help assist retention efforts? For example, a modern office facility that is bright, newer, and functionally relevant can help communities to put our best foot forward for a truly welcoming environment for these important ‘guests’ to our communities that we hope to encourage to stay.  
Share This