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British MP Urges Post-Brexit UK to Model Immigration Program on Canada

the CanadaVisa Team - 14 October, 2016


British Member of Parliament (MP) Chuka Umunna has urged policy-makers in the UK to look to Canada’s immigration system when developing a vision for the country’s immigration system post-Brexit.

“There is a lot we can learn from our Canadian counterparts,” Umunna wrote, in a recent opinion piece. “Their communities are far more integrated and cohesive, yet they have seen both historic and faster recent immigration levels.”

The future of the United Kingdom’s immigration policy was a key point of discussion in the lead-up to the referendum in June, in which voters in the UK opted to leave the European Union (EU). During preliminary discussions about the UK’s departure from the EU — commonly known as ‘Brexit’ — no clear plan has emerged regarding potential changes to the current immigration regulations in the UK.

Immigration policy was one of the defining features of the debate around Brexit, as the leaders of the Leave movement (the group advocating for leaving the EU) pushed for greater control over the UK’s immigration policy.

Regional Dispersal of Immigrants is Key to Integration

Umunna cited government efforts to ensure immigrants are evenly distributed across Canada as one reason why immigrants manage to settle and integrate relatively quickly. “For example, regions and towns in British Columbia have been supported to design and launch ‘welcoming communities’ initiatives. These federally funded schemes offer regional government financial incentives to develop and execute strategies to attract migrants to live and work in their areas,” he wrote.

Umunna pointed out that no UK government has yet implemented a similar policy to encourage regional dispersal of immigrants. Consequently, writes Umunna, migrants disproportionately settle in major urban centres, particularly London which, “according to ONS [Office of National Statistics, UK] data, is home to over a third of migrants to the UK.”

Points-based Systems: A Comparison

Another element of Umunna’s statement was the question of points-based immigration systems. The UK has a points-based immigration system for non-EU immigration, which Umunna describes as “comparable” to Canada’s.

However, the Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, has affirmed that the UK will not introduce a points-based immigration system for immigrants coming from the EU after the UK leaves the union. Under EU regulations, citizens of EU countries have free movement between member states. After Brexit, it is expected that this free movement between the UK and EU countries will be restricted.

In September, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister announced that “the precise way in which the government will control the movement of EU nationals to Britain after Brexit is yet to be determined. However, as the PM has said many times in the past, a points-based system will not work and is not an option.”

Mrs May highlighted a perceived problem with a points-based system, saying, “Because they [immigrants] met the criteria, they were automatically let in.”

However, under Canada’s points-based system, simply meeting the points requirement of a particular program does not guarantee that the applicant will automatically be allowed to submit an application for permanent residence.

For example, a candidate who meets the criteria of one of Canada’s federal economic immigration programs may enter the Express Entry pool, where he or she is assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors including his or her civil status, work experience, language ability, and education credentials. Only those candidates with top scores, however, receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence when the government of Canada conducts one of its regular draws from the pool. Other immigration programs, such as certain Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) and the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) Program, also require candidates to meet a points requirement in order to be eligible.

“Our progressive counterparts in Canada demonstrate some useful lessons to the UK, showing that migration can pose challenges, but this need not be the case if you implement the right policies to manage it,” Umunna wrote.

Points-based immigration systems in general are intended to encourage the selection of skilled immigrants who are likely to settle and integrate well in the receiving country. Often — as is the case for some of Canada's immigration programs — particular occupations are privileged during the selection process, in order to respond to the labour market needs of the receiving country.


To learn more about your Canadian immigration options, please fill out a free online assessment today.

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