Proposed regulations respecting Canada’s federal skilled worker program

By Author: admin | August 29, 2012

On August 17 2012, Canada’s immigration Department announced proposed changes to the federal skilled worker program.  The department intends to give effect to these changes in January 2013. The intention is to tweak some aspects such as mandatory higher language ability (including the allowance of higher English scores for applicants who have a spouse with high levels of English), and give demonstrated evidence of transferability of education to the Canadian workforce (through a mandatory assessment of foreign credentials).

The ongoing dearth of local, native Canadians taking up skilled trades’ jobs is intended to be remedied by the introduction of a new class for skilled trades persons (the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC)). Presumably, the required level of proficiency in English or French would be lower, in keeping with the day-to-day language requirements for these types of jobs.

The faster transition of Canada Experience Class applicants to landed immigrants (specifically, those who are under the Foreign Worker Stream, as opposed to the Postgraduate Stream) is apparent in the proposal to reduce the amount of months required of Canadian employment (from 24 to 12 in a three-year period) prior to applying for permanent resident status under the CEC.  This was an admission that the Canada experience class is being underutilized, which is likely the motivation for the reduction in the amount of work experience required before applying under the Canada Experience Class.

There is an intention to streamline the process for “Arranged Employment” (one of the factors under the current skilled system which is on hiatus) and reduce the widespread fraud that characterized the issuance of such job offers.  Further scrutiny to address the previous fraud would be in the form of Service Canada requiring proof of advertising prior to approving a job offer for foreign national.  It is difficult to see how this additional step could be characterized as a streamlining of the immigration system, given the notoriously horrible reputation Service Canada enjoys amongst Canada’s employers and the immigration lawyers who serve them.

Similarly, the intention to add a “designated organization” to which federal skilled worker applicants must submit their foreign credentials for assessment, cannot be said to constitute a streamlining of the system.

A thorough reading of the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement reveals that the real intention for faster processing of immigration cases is only apparent if it would be of benefit to Canadian employers.  Laypersons who read the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement will likely be fooled by the promise of faster processing of immigration applications.  There are no specific measures for expediting cases of skilled worker applicants without a job offer. The proposed changes in fact are only faster if there is a putative Canadian employer advocating on behalf of the foreign worker, and not for the regular skilled worker system which will come into play in January 2013.   The premise behind having faster processing is presumably to make Canada’s businesses more competitive in the global economy.

It is likely that the processing times for the new federal skilled worker system (i.e., for those applicants who do not have a job offer) shall be slow, which is synonymous to giving such candidates a lower priority within Canada’s immigration system.  Similarly, as time passes and applicants languish in the system, it is inevitable that the Canadian economy will change, and that their skills which were formerly in demand when they filed their case with Canada immigration would no longer be to Canada’s economic benefit. In such a situation, it is easy to predict that the Minister would retroactively change the law, and simply close the files of such applicants, and providing a refund for such applications, which had been filed.

Applicants can’t simply wake up and decide to live in Canada. Numerous steps have been imposed by Canada’s immigration bureaucracy, such as the taking of an English or French-language test, and obtaining of police clearances, medical checks, education documents, previous job letter references and increasingly, possessing a Canadian job offer – in other words, the obtaining of documents/evidence from third parties.    This blizzard of documentation, ostensibly designed to make life for visa officers easier, ends up adding even more processing time to a case, since an application cannot be lodged without first taking steps to get the aforementioned documentation.  The failure to do can result in further delays and sometimes disqualification from the system (when the system changes).   Serious applicants for immigration would be wise to hire a professional in such a rapidly changing legal environment.


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