Major Changes Coming To Skilled Worker Immigration Program
Ottawa: A number of regulatory changes will be brought to Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) that Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenney, says will allow Canada to better select skilled workers who can “hit the ground running” upon arrival.
“The Federal Skilled Worker Program is Canada’s largest economic immigration program,” said Kenney. “The changes we are making to update the selection criteria are based on a large body of data and evidence we’ve accumulated over the years showing what skills and qualifications are most likely to lead to success for skilled immigrants.”
The latest round of changes have come after an extensive program evaluation, stakeholder and public consultations, as well as other research. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proposing the following changes to the FSWP:
· Making language the most important selection factor by establishing new minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language;
· Increasing the emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience and remain in the workforce longer;
· Increasing points for Canadian work experience and reducing points for foreign work experience;
· Simplifying the arranged employment process to prevent fraud and abuse yet enable employers to staff positions quickly; and
· Awarding points for spousal language ability and Canadian experience.
Another proposed change is the introduction of the Educational Credential Assessment – a mandatory requirement that FSWP applicants have their education abroad assessed against Canadian education standards by designated organizations. CIC will then award points according to how an applicant’s foreign educational credential compares to a completed educational credential in Canada. It does not necessarily guarantee that they would become licensed to practice in a regulated occupation.
“This is an important step we are taking to address the problem of immigrants arriving and not being able to work in their field,” stated Minister Kenney. “This new requirement will help potential newcomers make informed choices about immigration and Canadian career paths.”
CIC issued a Call for Service Proposals on August 20, 2012, inviting submissions from organizations with expertise in foreign credential assessment to conduct the reviews. The deadline for submissions is September 21, 2012.
Quicker Transition For Temp Workers
A proposed change will also allow quicker transition to permanent status for temporary workers. “Thousands of highly-skilled foreign nationals are working successfully in Canada on a temporary basis,” said Kenney. “Expediting their transition to permanent residence would help Canada retain bright and talented people who already have Canadian work experience and the ability to communicate in English or French. In many cases, they already have a job lined up. Such newcomers are set for success.”
Currently, to be eligible to apply, applicants under the temporary foreign worker stream of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) must have acquired 24 months of full-time work experience within the last 36 months. Under the proposed regulatory changes, the requirement would be reduced to 12 months of experience.
Launched in 2008, the CEC offers a pathway to permanent residence – and eventually Canadian citizenship – for international students and temporary foreign workers with highly-skilled Canadian work experience. The CEC aims to support the economic success of immigrants by selecting those who are most likely to succeed in Canada’s labour market.
In 2011, a record number of people were admitted to Canada under the CEC. According to preliminary admissions data, 6,022 immigrants were welcomed under the CEC last year, a significant increase in admissions of more than 50 % from 2010. In 2012, 7,000 permanent residents are expected to be admitted through the CEC – more than ever before.
““The CEC is a key part of our plan for the future of immigration in Canada, and so it is gratifying to see the dramatic growth in the program since its inception,”” said Minister Kenney.
Skilled Tradespersons Category will get a huge boost as the Minister seems to have made a determination they are key to fill gaps in many regions in Canada that suffer from a shortages like in construction, natural resources and similar industries. Canada seems to be listening to the criticism that if all that the country needs are bricklayers, why are you bringing in Ph.Ds who don’t get a break here anyway?
Under the new program, CIC intends to create a separate and streamlined program for skilled tradespersons. Skilled trades include occupations in construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries. Skilled tradespersons are in high demand in Canada particularly in the natural resources and construction sectors.
Currently, FSW applicants are assessed against a 100-point grid, with a pass mark of 67. The grid takes into account the candidate’s official language ability, education, work experience, age, whether they have a job offer in Canada (arranged employment), and their overall adaptability (which awards points for things like previous work or study in Canada, spouse’s education and relatives in Canada).
Some criteria in the FSW grid, such as years of education, have traditionally favoured professionals and managers more than skilled trades, and thus skilled tradespersons only make up 3 percent of all FSWs entering Canada. During CIC’s consultations on FSWP modernization over the past year, stakeholders also agreed that changes were necessary to make the program more accessible to tradespersons.
The proposed FSWP Skilled Trades program would create a means for skilled tradespersons to be assessed based on criteria geared towards their reality, putting more emphasis on practical training and work experience rather than formal education. The new skilled trades stream would avoid some of the complexities of the traditional points grid. Skilled trades applicants will, however, need to meet minimum language requirements, given the importance of language as a determinant of immigrant success.
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