Canada to make both Irish and UK temporary skilled workers a priority in 2014 through the IEC program

Ireland Canada IECIreland has had a difficult last six years. The Celtic Tiger Economy refers to the economy of the Republic of Ireland between 1995 and 2000, a period of rapid real economic growth fuelled by foreign direct investment, and a subsequent property price bubble which rendered the real economy uncompetitive. The Irish economy expanded at an average rate of 9.4% between 1995 and 2000 and continued to grow at an average rate of 5.9% during the following decade until 2008, when it fell into recession. Since 2008, many Irish youth have been looking for opportunities abroad.

Irish national youth speak good English, are well educated by world renowned universities, come highly skilled and can easily assimilate into developed economies in countries such as Canada. Traditionally, Irish Nationals have come to Canada via the IEC (International Experience Canada) Program, which has been continuously upping their quota of Irish visas extended every year. The working holiday visa under IEC has worked well in the past. The Program has served as a two year work experience open permit for foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 30. It is understood that at the end of a working holiday visa, that the foreign national return to their home country, and be in possession of a departure ticket as well as the needed travel funds and medical insurance to ensure their stay is fully covered. A participation fee of CDN$150 is also payable at time of application.

The IEC Program – History and growth

The highly anticipated opening of the IEC Program on March 13, 2014 was capped at its maximum quota (3,850 applicants) within 7 minutes. We anticipate a second round shortly; however, it is proving challenging for applicants to successfully obtain their visa through this program as demand for the program outweighs current resource levels to run the program.

This year’s IEC Program made a further 2,500 work permits available to Irish Nationals who already have a secured job offer in Canada, and an additional 500 work permits were issued to Irish foreign nationals who were willing to do a cooperative educational program as part of their Post-Secondary studies to gain international work experience in their field. And these current quotas of work permits are expected to grow.

Canada needs highly skilled workers and wants to attract them to fill temporary skilled labour shortages specifically in the western provinces. Canada has recently renewed a commitment to Ireland to extend the open permit after several visits to Ireland by Minister of Citizenship & Immigration in 2012 and praised Irish apprenticeship programs for their certification standards. The Calgary Economic Development has just sent a delegation of 6 companies to Dublin’s Working Abroad Expo Recruitment Fair (March 22-March 30, 2014) in order to recruit skilled labour to fill Alberta’s current shortages.

Trade agreement set-up between Canada and the UK and Ireland

Canada wants to do even more to attract skilled labour from Ireland and the United Kingdom. On March 14, 2014, it was announced by CIC that a new international study will be launched, in an effort to help British and Irish tradespeople assess their skills against Canadian trades criteria, fully supported by CIC. In other words, streamlining the foreign credential recognition process for people coming from these countries is a high priority for the Canadian Government. The ACCC (Association of Canadian Community Colleges) and the UK NARIC (United Kingdom National Recognition Information Centre) have signed an agreement to work together for mutual recognition of skills, competencies and certifications. Both organizations will work with employers as part of the CIC-funded Canadian Immigrant Integration Program, which provides settlement and integration services to newcomers in Canada. Specifically, the organizations will be concentrating on the following areas of international competency which are in high demand across Canada:

  1. Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
  2. Construction Electrician
  3. Welder
  4. Carpenter
  5. Steamfitter/Pipefitter
  6. Plumber
  7. Machinist
  8. Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)
  9. Powerline Technician

As well, electronic tools are currently being developed, and UK NARIC expects to have an electronic guide published that will feature all the provincial and territorial apprenticeship authorities, which will be a “textbook” to be used by employers, workers, and trade associations in order to assess credentials quickly and fast-track the process for a foreign national to obtain their trade certification. This program intends to assist the Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants under the Federal Stream, in creating an international partnership and streamlined process of integration into the Canadian economy.

What to do if you want to immigrate to Canada

If you are currently a tradesperson from Ireland or the United Kingdom, you want to ensure that you know which program you wish to apply for to immigrate to Canada. As mentioned before, there is the IEC Program but it quickly reaches its cap, preventing further applicants from applying. If you have a job offer, you can apply for a work permit to come to Canada. If you meet the area of skills needed across Canada in the Trades, then the Federal Skilled Trades Program may be a good fit. There are other Federal Programs and Provincial Programs which also may be considered such as the Canadian Experience Class Program, the Provincial Nominee Programs, as well as special projects (Pilot Projects). Before applying, consider talking to either a trusted advisor or an immigration expert that can advise you on the best program for you. It is vital to do your research into Canadian culture, to look at foreign credential recognition as the first order of business, and to consider the expense of immigrating to a new country as a temporary worker. For skilled workers already in Canada, you will want to ensure that you have started additional applications working towards permanent residency status should you wish to stay in Canada.

Some final considerations

As the Federal Government continues to develop strategies to attract temporary foreign workers and to meet the economic demands of Canadian industry, it is abundantly clear that good sources of workers are coming from Ireland and the UK due to their adaptability and skills. As the IEC Program has reached its quota since launching in March 2014, many Canadian employers may not successfully recruit their temporary workers this year. Demand is high and is only expected to grow. But again, there are other options available to these employers and workers, should they wish to avail of other immigration programs on offer in either of the Federal or Provincial programs. And CICS Immigration can certainly help in assessing your eligibility in looking at other immigration avenues to pursue.

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Changes Made to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program

HRSDC Minister Diane Finley speaking in the House of Commons last September. New rules and increased fees for work permit applications were announced by Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday (Government of Canada)

Amid controversy and criticism over a series of incidents involving temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in recent months, including a story that emerged last month of Canadian workers losing their jobs to foreign workers at the Royal Canadian Bank, the federal government has announced several immediate and upcoming changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

These changes are:

  • An employer is required to guarantee to pay a TFW prevailing wages for that foreign worker to be eligible for a work permit, effective immediately. The rule allowing companies to pay TFWs 15 percent less than prevailing wages for high-skilled positions, and 5 percent less for low skilled ones has been repealed.
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  • The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) has been suspended, effective immediately.
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  • The federal government is seeking the authority to suspend a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) if new information emerges showing that it negatively affects the Canadian economy and Canadian workers, and revoke work permits that were authorized by that LMO.
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  • Fees employers pay for work permit and LMO applications will increase so that a portion of the cost of processing them will no longer have to be paid out of general taxes.
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  • Job requirements for positions that use TFWs can only have English or French as required languages, unless an employer receives a special exemption after having shown Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) why the foreign language is necessary for the position.

The new rules attempt to close some of the major loopholes that critics have identified in the program that they say allow Canadian companies to use foreign workers instead of available Canadian workers.

The changes were jointly announced by HRSDC Minister Diane Finley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Monday.

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Ontario to Increase Spending on Settlement Programs

The Ontario legislature, pictured above. Ontario’s provincial government has announced increased funding for immigrant-serving organizations in the province in an effort to help new immigrants find employment and adjust to life in Canada

The government of Ontario, Canada’s largest province, announced more funding for settlement services for immigrants on Friday.

The funds will be provided to the Newcomer Settlement Program, which supports 98 organizations that the provincial government says help 80,000 newcomers settle and find jobs in the province.

The Ontario government has been seeking to find ways to help immigrants improve their employment situation and income after findings showed Ontario has one of the largest income and unemployment gaps between new immigrants and the general population in Canada.

Increasing access to settlement services was one of the targets included in the province’s recently published immigration strategy.

Since 2003, the Ontario government has increased funding to settlement programs by nearly 80 percent. Nearly 40 percent of Canada’s immigrants settle in Ontario.

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Saskatchewan Proposes Stricter Immigration Laws

Saskatchewan Immigration Minister Rob Norris proposed new legislation that would tighten SINP rules for family sponsorship

Saskatchewan’s Immigration Minister Rob Norris announced that the province will be tightening rules for the family sponsorship category of its Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. Saskatchewan’s family nominee program is considered to be easier for immigrants than those of other provinces, but it has also had problems with abuse.

The new rules include a cap of one application for the family nominee program per household. Mr. Norris described the current situation as one where “we’ve even heard stories of up to 20 applications” per household.

The Saskatchewan government is also requesting that the federal government increase the number of immigrants the province can nominate every year through its Immigrant Nominee Program from 4,000 to 6,000. Government officials say the province needs immigrants to fill its jobs.

Norris’ proposed legislation also includes a requirement for recruiters and immigration consultants to be in good standing in Saskatchewan to represent SINP applicants.

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Quebec Skilled Worker and the Damascus Office

For the safety of its clients and staff as well as for maintaining the proper treatment of its immigration cases in the current context in some parts of the Middle East, the Department of Immigration and Cultural Communities chose to close the Quebec Immigration Office in Damascus as of May 31, 2011. Immigration activities held there will now be conducted from the department offices in Montreal.

This news involves no changes to the business category clients, whose treatment has already been based in Montreal in recent years.

Selection interviews conducted by the Ministry with the candidates from Middle East will be held on neighboring territories easily accessible for clients. This practice, common to the Department, is already used in different territories.

The Department is looking forward to continue its activities from the Middle East with the same diligence as quickly as possible.

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Federal Skilled Worker – Proposed changes

The proposed changes which are expected to occur in conjunction with the release of the new occupation list will most likely begin early July of 2011. The changes don’t alter the selection criteria established in 2002 – the proposals would affect the number of points assigned to the criteria and the way they are assessed. Please see below for details on this.

Proposed changes to Language

A 2005 Statistics Canada study found that employment rates of immigrants increased with their ability to speak an official language. It also found that language proficiency had the biggest impact on the immigrant’s ability to work in either a high-skilled profession or their intended field.

  • However, the current selection system only awards a maximum of 16 points for high proficiency in the first official language
  • Applicants can meet the pass mark with only basic, or even no proficiency, in an official language

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Increase maximum points for the first official language from 16 to 20 points
  • Introduce minimum language requirements based on occupation

Proposed changes to Age

Research has shown that age at immigration is a significant factor in immigrant outcomes. Immigrants who arrive between the age of 20 and 30 have been found to have the greatest economic impact on the receiving country. Younger immigrants have higher rates of employment and earnings than older immigrants. By contrast, immigrants aged 45 years and older experience unemployment rates almost double those aged 25-34 years.

  • Younger immigrants are more likely to acquire Canadian work and study experience, adapt more quickly to their new environments and make a greater contribution to the economy

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Award maximum points until age 35, with a sequential levelling off to 49 – no age points awarded after age 50
    • Encourages younger immigrants to apply early to get maximum points – older applicants can still qualify, but will need high points in other factors
  • Increase weight of age on the grid from 10 to 12 points

Proposed changes to Education

Education points are currently awarded based on the credential (such as a post-secondary diploma) and the number of associated years of education. The years of education requirements is intended to help ensure the quality of the credential. However, the years of education required reflect Canadian educational systems and do not take into account country-to-country variants in school system.

  • Skilled tradespersons and technicians who have a credential in their selected trade, but not the required years of education are disadvantaged and lose points

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Reduce the number of years of education required to claim points for a trade or non-university post-secondary credential

This change would improve access for skilled tradespersons, technicians and apprentices who have valid post-secondary qualifications, but not the required number of years of study

Proposed changes to Work Experience

The Federal Skilled Worker program places more weight on work experience than other countries. The overall value of work experience points in the selection grid represents too large a share. Currently, with as little as four years of foreign work experience, an applicant has already earned 21 of the points required to meet the pass mark of 67.

  • However, foreign work experience is a weak predictor of success in the Canadian labour market

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Decrease the points allotted to work experience from 21 to 15 points
    • Allows points to be redirected to language proficiency and age
  • Increase the range within which points are allotted
    • Ensures that applicants have more experience in order to earn maximum points

Proposed changes to the Arranged Employment Offer

Arranged employment has several advantages for immigration purposes. It allows applicants to earn an immediate 15 points on the grid, and waives the requirement to have a certain amount of money set aside to prove that they are able to be self-sufficient in Canada.

  • However, these advantages have made this part of the program susceptible to exploitation by people attempting to immigrate with a fraudulent job offer

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Strengthen regulatory provisions and definitions to support a more rigorous up-front assessment of the employer and job offer
  • Enhance the authority for visa officers to assess the validity of the job offer and the applicant’s ability and likelihood to perform that employment

Overview: Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid

Selection based on objective factors: Current System Maximum points: Proposed System Maximum points:
Education1 25 25
Language 24 28
Work Experience 21 15
Age2 10 12
Arranged Employment 10 10
Adaptability 10 10
Total: 100 100

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The political unrest in Syria, the Damascus Visa Office and what it means to you

As most of you know, the situation in Syria has gotten worse. This has resulted in the Canadian visa officers moving to other offices in nearby countries like Greece, Turkey, Poland, France and others. This means that many of the applications have also been forwarded to other visa offices. There are still people working in the Damascus visa offices, but they are assistants and junior members. The Quebec province immigration office has totally shut down and is now working in other visa offices in nearby regions as well.


So what does mean to you if you have an application there?

This will most likely increase the processing times for applications. We are also noticing an increase in errors committed by Immigration Canada. We continue to try to keep ourselves up to date and make sure that we protect our clients the best we can by seeking updates and making sure that the visa office follows the proper procedures.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please either email us or leave your question in the comment section of this post.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.bookappointment