Comparing Canadian and US Immigration Systems

Canadian immigration policies are similar to those of the United States in many ways. Both countries have a variety of programs designed to attract immigrants with specific skills and talents, and both countries have family sponsorship programs that allow citizens and permanent residents to sponsor close family members for immigration. Both countries have enforcement regimes that seek to remove inadmissible individuals or prevent their entry in the first place. For example, someone with a criminal record may require a TRP to enter Canada; in the US they will need a waiver of inadmissibility.

However, there are also some significant differences between the two countries’ immigration systems. One key difference is that Canada has a points-based immigration system, under which applicants are awarded points for various factors such as their education, work experience, language ability, and other characteristics. Applicants who score enough points are eligible to immigrate to Canada. We can call this a human capital model; Canada is seeking skilled individuals that can contribute to its economy. It seeks to settle 60% of individuals under the economic classes vs. 40% under the family class/non-economic classes.

Another difference is that Canada has a higher proportion of immigrants as a share of its population than the United States. In 2020, approximately 22% of Canada’s population was foreign-born, compared to about 14% of the population in the United States. This means that immigration is a more central part of Canada’s society and economy than it is in the United States.

Canada’s immigration system is also somewhat decentralized immigration system, and the Provinces also have a say in terms of the selection of immigrants. with many immigration decisions being made at the provincial level. This means that different provinces have the authority to set their own immigration policies and to select immigrants who are a good fit for their local labor markets and communities.

Canada’s refugee system can also be considered to be significantly more generous that its counterpart in the US.

Given the complexity of the immigration regimes in both countries it is important to select experienced counsel authorized to communicate with the respective government agencies.