More resources required to ramp up immigration numbers: Stairs


Laura Stairs Head Shot

Though the federal government has set the stage to accept 350,000 immigrants in a single year, that load might place another strain on the already complicated and taxed system, Windsor immigration lawyer Laura Stairs tells

One of the main issues of ramping up so quickly by the year 2021 is the availability of staff to actually manage the growing number of applications, say Stairs, an associate with Shibley Righton LLP who frequently represents clients seeking to live and work in this country.

“The more people they commit to accepting, the longer it's going to take to assist our clients in actually getting into Canada if the resources are not provided to support that growth,” she says.

Global News recently reported that the government is seeking people to fill employment gaps, particularly those who have education, skills and experience working as information systems analysts and consultants, software engineers, computer programmers and interactive media developers, financial auditors and accountants, and administrative assistants.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will continue to process applications for permanent residents, spousal permanent residents, humanitarian and compassionate categories.

“They will also have to increase the number of IRCC staff and resources, or it's going to result in a great deal of frustration for immigrants attempting to come to Canada,” Stairs says.

It can already be a burden on immigration lawyers trying to figure out how to best make each applicant fit into already complex immigration programs, she says, although some may be able to apply through the Express Entry system.

“The Express Entry system was designed to streamline economic immigration in Canada,” Stairs says. “It has very good intentions, and you can see over the years how the program has processed people significantly faster. It’s a step in the right direction, and I think the government is continuing to work on it.”

Stairs points out that within the Express Entry system, there are particular qualifying streams: the Canadian Experience Class, targeted toward people who have studied or worked in Canada before; the Federal Skilled Workers Class, which aims to bring in immigrants to fill jobs that will benefit the Canadian economy; and the Federal Skilled Trades Class, where specific trades seek to bring workers.

Moreover, Stairs explains that individuals are assigned points under Express Entry for categories such as age, if there’s a job offer, experience, education, and language. And there's also a category for provincial nomination as each province has its own programs and systems for qualification.

In terms of the prospect receiving a job offer, they might have to pursue a Labour Market Impact assessment, (LMIA), a complete review of the job offer, to determine whether or not they would benefit the Canadian economy with that role, she says.

“It’s a very complex system that is difficult for individuals to navigate on their own, which is why I have a job. But, it can be very complicated to give advice to people on how they can fit under all of these programs,” says Stairs, who also co-founded the Windsor Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.

The entire system is further knotted in “dealing with visa posts and immigration offices around the world,” where there are “different expectations and standards being applied,” she says.

In addition to more IRCC staff to handle the new load, clearer communication and consistency throughout the program, “would benefit both immigration lawyers and their clients,” Stairs says.