Canadian Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Class Applicants will have only one chance to prove language ability

Changes to Canadian Experience Class and Canadian Skilled Worker programs

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minster Jason Kenney announced on Wednesday, March 10th that the process prospective immigrants must undergo to prove their language skills when applying to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Classes (CEC) will be undergoing changes.

Before the announcement, applicants to prove their  English or French abilities would be able to write a hand-in writing sample  to a visa officer or supply evidence of third-party testing (IELTS test).  Problems arise when those whose first language was not English or French would instead opt for the written submission rather than the IELTS test, which often would slow down the process because usually additional proof of their language abilities were needed down the road.

There are no changes to the language requirements themselves, but in his announcement Minister Kenney said, “Beginning April 10, 2010, prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply.”

Immigrants are now required to prove that they have the skills they put down on their applications, and its recommended that they submit third-party testing results. Applicants are still allowed to hand in a written submission, but they will only get one chance at it. Minister Kenny also said, “This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing”.

If the written submission does not match the applicant’s reported abilities, their application my not be accepted, nor will they even know of their results until much later when the application is fully reviewed by a visa officer.

We think this is a very negative development in policy as it will exclude many otherwise qualified applicants. What if an applicant has a “bad day” during the language testing and the results do not really reflect their abilities?; what if during the processing of their permanent residence application, the applicant upgrades his or her language skills which often happens? What if the applicant attempts to provide proof of language abilities when applying but later on discovers that  certain documents or information was left out that would provide a more clear picture their true abilities? In all of these cases, applicants, under the new rules, would be prejudiced.

Niren and Associates immigration law firm opinion on Canadian Experience Class and Canadian Skilled Worker changes

By restricting applicants to only a one-shot deal in language ability, many candidates will unjustifiably be refused. This at a time when Canada needs immigrants more than ever given our aging demographics and economic uncertainty. Further I think language as a criterion for immigration cases is given far too much weight. There are countless examples of successful immigrants making their way in Canada with minimal language abilities, many of whom learn to communicate after landing in Canada. I submit that the net benefit of having such contributors to our economy and culture vastly outweighs their lack of language skills.

The direction that Canada Immigration is going here is simply the wrong direction. But c’est la vie.

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Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

Tags: Canada Experience Class Applications canadian experience class slow canadian permanent residence cec applicants requirements CEC Applications cec pr canada processing time English language testing ielts new rules canadian experience class processing times for cec Skilled Worker Applications skilled worker versus canadian experience

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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