n your opinion, what are the largest immigration issues that Canada presently faces? The challenge is to clear the backlog of cases. There are many qualified immigrants waiting in the queue who would otherwise benefit Canada economically and socially but are stuck waiting for their cases to be processed. The immigration system needs a complete overhaul and modernisation in order to keep up with the demand. In 2022, Canada will likely get two immigration levels plan announcements. How well do you think these announcements will address the issues you mentioned above? They will just exacerbate them. The system cannot accommodate the current inventory. Canada needs a steady and increasing flow of immigrants due to its ageing population and the demand for talent, but in order to capitalise on this, the system needs a major upgrade. In your opinion, what changes to current Canadian immigration laws would best help Canada recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? They need to liberalise – currently the system is far too selective in terms of eligibility criteria. Many quality immigrants just do not make it under the current system. The government always leads from behind in terms of understanding and addressing the needs of the economy, which is always dynamic, changing and growing. In my view, we should let Canadian employers themselves formulate the criteria for what they consider a “qualified candidate”, as they are the participants in the real economy – as opposed to the bureaucrats, the central planners who are always one step removed from what is happening in real time. The good news is that over the last number of years, they have allowed the provinces themselves to manage their own immigration programs, which better addresses the needs of local economies. What I advocate is taking it a step further and leaving it up to the individual employers and companies themselves to call the shots. EXPERT INSIGHT 58 WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | MAR 2022 Canadian Immigration: A 360-Degree Overview of the Past and Future 12Months I It is a tumultuous time for the immigration law sector. As the world at large slowly eases pandemic restrictions, will there be an opportunity for Canada to reform its immigration policies? Michael Niren, CEO of VisaPlace, offers his thoughts. Last October, Ontario announced new legislation to remove “significant barriers” faced by internationally trained immigrants wanting to come to the province for work. In your opinion, do these measures go far enough, or pose any issues? That certainly is a welcome step in the right direction. There are so many professionals coming to Canada who end up as Uber drivers or working in lower skilled occupations due to insurmountable licensing requirements. It is past time for Canada to recognise the skills that immigrants bring to the table and allow them to work in their chosen professions, which would benefit everyone. Do you think the pandemic’s impact on Canadian immigration law will last beyond 2022? I think things will ultimately normalise over time. The pandemic certainly made matters worse for what already was an inefficient system. I hope that it served as a wake-up call. If Canada is to thrive and to compete globally, its ability to not only attract but to successfully process enough immigrants each year is essential. How has the pandemic shifted the work of immigration law firms? Like many other businesses, immigration law firms had to quickly pivot and to implement virtual options for their staff and clients. That is exactly what we did and frankly it made us more efficient and provided even greater transparency and of course safety for our clients in terms of how their cases are being managed. Leveraging cloud-based technology has been a blessing for us and I do not think that will go away anytime soon – nor should it.