More changes for Skilled Worker Applications and other Economic Visas

Proposed Changes to the Skilled Worker Category

“Immigration is key to economic growth and prosperity,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny. 

Following the controversial immigration reform in March 2012 proposing to wipe out a waiting list of more than 280,000 foreign workers and returning $130 million they paid in processing fee, Minister Kenney announced further proposed changes to Canada’s immigration system that are expected to make it faster, more flexible and more focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.

The proposed changes to the Skilled Worker Category include:

Creating of a New Skilled Trades Program

“Our Government recognizes that our country faces a critical shortage in certain skilled trades” said Minister Kenney.

To fill Canada’s growing labour shortages in construction, natural resources and similar industries, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced plans to make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada.

Currently, the criteria in the Federal Skilled Worker grid favour professionals and managers more than skilled trades and skilled tradepersons currently make up only three per cent of all Federal Skilled Workers entering Canada.

However, the proposed Skilled Trades criteria will assess skilled tradepersons placing more emphasis on practical training and work experience rather than formal education to attract more plumbers, electricians, crane operators and construction workers.

These changes to the Federal Skilled Worker program are applauded by the industry. “It sounds like great news and we have been very happy with the statements Minister Kenney has made recently about immigration policy, including statements in the federal budget,” said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).

If the proposed changes are approved, Canadian immigration will announce a full list of the changes later this year.

Changes for Assessing Skilled Worker Credentials

A new proposal was announced that would change how foreign skilled workers’ education credentials are assessed. Among these new changes would be the requirement that applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker program to have their foreign education credentials assessed and verified before they arrive in Canada.

“By having their foreign education credentials assessed before their arrival to Canada, foreign skilled workers will have a better sense of how their credentials fit into the Canadian labour market and will be able to contribute their full skill set to the economy more quickly.”

The new process will help immigrants get a sense of how their education credentials are likely to fit in the Canadian job market before they arrive in Canada, preventing them from arriving in Canada and not being able to work in their fields.

Placing Priority on specific fields 

Another proposed change will allow Kenney to use his ministerial authority to place a priority on a specific field such as medicine. As a result, existing applications from doctors would be processed first regardless of where they fall in the pool of applicants.

Developing a Start-up visa for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Furthermore, Kenney initialized consultations geared towards the possibility of creating a new and specialized program to attract immigrant entrepreneurs. Priorities of the Economic Action Plan 2012 outline Kenney’s commitment to, “supporting entrepreneurs and diversifying Business Immigration Programs which will target active investments in Canada.” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) intends to consult with industry associations in the development of a “start-up” visa program for entrepreneurs in the coming months. Under the proposed changes, the Government could create short-term programs, ending after a five year trial period, for no more than 2 750 applicants. If the program proves successful during the trial period and the Department wishes to maintain it, CIC would be required to formally introduce the new economic class in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Update on new changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program

CIC announced some details of the new changes to the FSW program that will take effect May 4, 2013.

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.

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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