The Canadian Experience Class program sees its first major changes

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) has been one of the most popular economic Canadian immigration programs in the past 2 years. As of today, significant changes have been made to the program.

Canadian Experience Class continues to gain momentum as the most popular economic immigration program

Since the Conservative government came to power, Canadian immigration regulations have gone through many changes. These changes have received a mixed reaction from all sides. The government has been loud and clear that it prefers to have its new immigrants with Canadian work experience, as this would make it easier for newcomers who will likely make the most of their abilities while undergoing a more seamless social and economic transition to Canada. So far, over 25,000 have become permanent residents since the CEC program initiated in late 2008. The number of applicants becoming permanent resident through this program continues to climb every year.

Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander announced a few major changes to the program as a measure to make to make the program more ‘efficient’:

“The government is taking concrete action to reduce backlogs and processing times. By making these changes to the Canadian Experience Class, we are moving toward a more effective and efficient immigration system.”

The changes that have been published are:

Between November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept a maximum of 12,000 new applications under the CEC.

Because of an overrepresentation in the CEC applications received to date, the following six occupations will no longer be eligible for the CEC starting November 9, 2013:

  • cooks (NOC code 6322);
  • food service supervisors (NOC 6311);
  • administrative officers (NOC 1221);
  • administrative assistants (NOC 1241);
  • accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311); and
  • retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211).

CIC already has a large inventory of applications in these occupations and will continue processing them to a final decision.

In addition, CIC will establish sub-caps of 200 applications each for National Occupational Classification (NOC) B occupations. These are mostly technical and administrative jobs or those in the skilled trades. NOC 0 and A (managerial and professional) occupations will not be sub-capped, but they will be subject to the overall cap of 12,000 applications.

Finally, CIC will maintain the same language criteria for applicants but will verify them upfront as of November 9, 2013. The current language requirements are Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 for NOC 0 and A occupations, and CLB 5 for NOC B occupations. This new measure will ensure that applicants who do not meet the minimum language requirements are screened out earlier and processing resources can be concentrated on those who are more likely to qualify.

At the same time, this is more client-friendly, as applicants who do not have the required language proficiency will have their applications returned to them along with the processing fee.

Montreal Tops List of Best Cities for International Students

Cultural attractions like the iconic Montreal Museum of Fine Arts helped give Montreal the top spot in the ‘social experience’ sub-index of the Sea Turtle Index

An index commissioned by the Bank of Communications (BoCom), one of the largest banks in China, places Montreal, Canada as the best city in the world for international students.

Other Canadian cities that ranked well include Toronto (4th) and Vancouver (15th).

Created by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with design input from BoCom management, the Sea Turtle Index (a name referring to Chinese students who study abroad only to return, like sea turtles, to their country of origin) ranks foreign student destinations according to five sub-indices:

  • Educational returns: the international value of the education provided in the city relative to its cost
  • Financial returns: the openness of the investment environment to foreign nationals and the amount of volatility risk that could effect investment returns
  • Real estate returns: the return on investment in the local real estate market
  • Work experience: the local job market for foreign students and graduates in terms of availability of jobs, wages and low-taxes
  • Social experience: the city’s level of culture, worldliness and multi-culturalism

Of the 80 cities included in the index, Montreal came in 6th place in the ‘educational returns’ sub-index, behind only Cambridge (1st), Oxford (2nd), London (3rd), Seoul (4th), and Beijing (5th).

Montreal benefited from having comparatively affordable universities and cost of living while providing high quality tertiary education. Vancouver and Toronto also had their score helped by their low cost of living, although not as much as Montreal which was found to be a more affordable place to live.

None of the American cities included in the study made the top 10 in the educational returns category, despite several being home to some of the best educational institutions in the world. The poor showing was largely due to the high cost of tuition for their undergraduate programs.

Some cities, including Singapore, Hong Kong and New York, saw their educational returns ranking pushed down due to a high cost of living.

The EIU included a ‘financial returns’ sub-index owing to the fact that the parents of international students and often international students themselves like to make investments in the city where the students live.

None of the North American cities included in the study made the top 30 in this sub-index, due in Canada to relatively high taxes and in the United States to excessive “money laundering regulations and terrorism legislation” stifling financial freedom.

Hong Kong placed first in this ranking, followed by Auckland, New Zealand (2nd) and Santiago, Chile (3rd), which benefited from having comparatively few regulations on finance and banking that restrict international capital flows.

Three Canadian cities made the top 30 in the ‘real-estate returns’ sub-index: Toronto (4th), Montreal (12th), and Vancouver (13th), while Hong Kong took the top spot thanks to its hot real estate market.

Canadian cities did well due to a combination of well-performing real-estate markets and avoidance of the boom-busts that affected many other world cities in the period leading up to and following the global mortgage crisis.

Canada’s openness to foreign investment also helped push its cities above those in countries with real-estate markets that have seen substantial gains in recent years but which have more restrictions on foreign property ownership, like Shanghai, Bangkok, Mumbai and Seoul.

Immigration rules benefit Canada

Canadian cities took the top five spots in the work experience sub-index due to immigration laws that allow foreign students, upon completion of their study programs, to obtain post-graduate work permits that are valid for durations equaling the length of their study in Canada.

This contrasts with the U.S. where international students have few options to stay and work in the United States upon completing their studies.

Edmonton’s combination of a hot labour market and low provincial taxes gave it an edge over its Canadian counterparts and earned it the top spot in the ranking, followed by Hamilton (2nd), Toronto (3rd), Vancouver (4th) and Montreal (5th).

Montreal managed to also share the top spot in the ‘social experience’ sub-index with London, England, thanks to its low rates of violent crime, high cultural diversity and its world renowned cultural attractions.

Canada’s high levels of multiculturalism and low crime rates helped three other Canadian cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, make the top 30 in this ranking.

As incomes in China rapidly grow, parents in the country’s large and education-minded population are increasingly able to afford a foreign university education for their children.

Therefore the good showing of Canadian cities in the Sea Turtle Index, which caters mostly to Chinese students seeking to study abroad, portends well for Canadian efforts to make the country a top destination for international students.

With the federal government having committed itself to making it easier for international students to stay and work in Canada and become permanent residents through programs like the Canadian Experience Class, Canada’s appeal to international students could increase even more in coming years.

Men Outnumber Women 2-1 Among Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

Many temporary foreign workers are employed by immigrant-run businesses like the above, and data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada shows that the majority are men (CICS News)

The gender makeup of Canada’s foreign worker population is like that of foreign workers around the world, with men outnumbering women by a large margin.

The data, collected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), shows that over 143,000 men entered the country in 2012 as temporary foreign workers (TFWs), over double the approximately 70,000 TFWs who were women.

Men, who are the primary breadwinner in most households around the world, are often driven to work abroad by pressure to provide for their families, when wages in their own country are inadequate.

A recent MacLean’s story on outgoing foreign remittance from individuals in Canada reports that the country has the highest foreign remittance rate in the world, at $667.57 per capita, suggesting that many of these TFWs are in fact sending the money they earn in Canada to family living in their country of origin.

Differences between genders in temporary foreign worker occupations

The CIC data also points to male and female TFWs tending to work in different types of occupations. While 75 percent of male TFWs worked in occupations that have well defined skill levels (e.g. managerial, professional, skilled and technical), only 40 percent of female TFWs did the same.

Six out of ten female TFWs were categorized as working in occupations where the skill level was not stated, which usually either means an individual is a family member of a foreign worker, or they are working in an unskilled occupation.

More women becoming permanent residents than men

Despite men outnumbering women in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), slightly more women become permanent residents in Canada than men every year.

TFWs with skilled work experience in Canada can qualify for permanent residence through economic class immigration programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), however the number of men who become permanent residents through economic class programs is only slightly higher than the number of women.

This could suggest that more women apply for permanent residency from outside the country than men, making up for the larger number of men whose path to permanent residency was through the TFWP.

What puts women over the top in the total permanent residency numbers is the family class immigration programs, which grant 37 percent more women permanent residency than men, mostly as a result of more foreign women being sponsored for immigration by their Canadian spouse than foreign men.

Nova Scotia Looking to Increase Immigration to Province

Halifax harbour at night. Nova Scotia’s premier is hoping to boost the province’s economy by inviting more skilled immigrants to the province and encouraging them to settle

Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s Maritime provinces, is seeking to increase the number of skilled immigrants that settle in the province, according to a new provincial strategy announced earlier this year.

The Maritimes region of Canada, which includes Nova Scotia, has suffered from chronic economic malaise over the last two decades, with the highest unemployment rates, the fastest aging population, and the lowest population growth rates of any region in the country.

Attracting skilled immigrants is seen as one way to address the critical skills shortage facing the region and reversing the looming population contraction.

Immigrant worker controversy

The use of immigrants and temporary foreign workers by the Maritime provinces to meet labour shortages has met some controversy however, as the region has the largest pool of unemployed workers in the country relative to its population.

Reforms by the federal government to the Employment Insurance system in 2012 were designed in part to reduce the reliance of seasonal workers in resource sectors in the Maritimes on EI for the portion of the year when they’re off work, in order to encourage more of the region’s population to work year round.

Still, the governments of the Maritime provinces continue to insist that skilled immigrants are an important tool for alleviating their demographic problems and bringing economic vitality to the region.

Nova Scotia Nominee Program

Nova Scotia has been pressing the federal government in recent years to increase the number of immigrants it allows it to nominate annually through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), and as a result has seen its cap increase by 200 nominees, to a total of 700, in 2012.

The increase in its cap is not as fast as the provincial government would like, so it has been looking for ways to maximize the number of nominations it has available to it.

In a strategy announcement published in late February, the Nova Scotia government said that the international graduate stream of the NSNP would be eliminated, and foreign graduates seeking to apply for permanent residency through it would be redirected to the post-graduate stream of the federal Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The province says this will allow it to nominate more skilled workers using the spots freed up by moving the foreign graduate nominees to the federal program, and increase the total number of immigrants it invites to the province.

The Nova Scotia government also notes that skilled worker nominees are more likely to bring their families to Canada with them, thereby further increasing the population boost that the redirection of international graduates to the CEC will provide to the province.

Nearly 10,000 Immigrants admitted through Canadian Experience Class in 2012

A total of 9,780 individuals became permanent residents of Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) in 2012 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Thursday that the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) admitted a record 9,780 immigrants in 2012, a 30 percent increase from the number admitted in 2011.

The increase is part of a long term plan to make the CEC a bigger part of the immigration system, which CIC set upon after concluding that individuals with prior Canadian work experience were more likely to successfully integrate into Canada’s labour market and economy as permanent residents.

The CEC requires a foreign national to have work experience in Canada in a skilled occupation, defined as an occupation in NOC 0, A or B, in order to qualify for permanent residence.

The requirements for qualifying under the CEC were made more permissive in January 2013, when the minimum two year Canadian work experience requirement was reduced to one year.

For applicants in the post-graduate stream of the program, the time frame during which they could obtain their work experience was increased from up to two years prior the date of the application, to three years.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney lauded the increase in the number of people using the CEC in 2012, and said the program benefits the Canadian economy.

“The CEC allows these skilled and educated individuals to bring their skills and talents, contribute to our economy and help renew our workforce so that Canada remains competitive on the world stage,” said Kenney.

Canadian Immigration Department Announces January 2 Launch of Canadian Experience Class

CIC will be launching the revised Canadian Experience Class program on January 2nd 2013. Under new rules, temporary foreign workers only require 12 months of skilled work experience to qualify for permanent residence rather than 24 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced this month that the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which is being revised with a shorter Canadian work experience requirement for eligibility, will be re-launched on January 2nd 2013.

CIC is planning on admitting up to 10,000 permanent residents through the CEC program, which first began in 2008 as part of the federal government’s efforts to shift immigration selection to favour those with Canadian work experience.

Under the original CEC rules, a temporary foreign worker with 24 months of skilled Canadian work experience would be eligible to acquire for permanent residence through the program’s temporary foreign worker stream. The new rules reduce the work experience requirement of the temporary foreign worker stream to 12 months.

Applicants under the post-graduate stream of the CEC program are also having their path to permanent residence eased, with an increase in the time-frame in which they can acquire 12 months of Canadian work experience following graduation, from 24 months to 36 months.

Bridging Visa Introduced For Temporary Residents Applying for Permanent Residence in Canada

In an effort to reduce regulatory barriers for foreign workers in Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced a bridging open work permit for those applying for permanent residence under economic class immigration streams (Jarek Tuszynski)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on Thursday introduced the ‘Bridging Open Work Permit’ for temporary residents who are working in Canada and are awaiting a final decision on their application for permanent residence through an economic class immigration program.

The new work permit will save foreign workers from having to discontinue their work in Canada and leave the country while they wait for permanent residence.

A similar bridging open work permit already exists for temporary foreign workers with pending applications in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) and spousal or common-law immigration streams.

Temporary residents with pending applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will be eligible for the bridging visa.

CIC has made several changes in recent months to make it easier for foreign nationals in Canada on temporary work or study assignments to transition to permanent residence.

Canadian Prime Minister Lays Out His Vision For Immigration To Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Globe and Mail that Canada will need to compete for high value immigrants as other country look to immigration to solve their fiscal problems

In an interview on Saturday with the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expounded in length on his vision for Canada’s immigration programs.

He told the Globe that competition for skilled international workers would heat up over the coming years, as “the demographic changes .. the aging population, start to bite, in many developed countries”.

He trumpeted his government’s achievements in reforming what he called the old “passive pro-immigration policy” which “operated on receiving applications and processing them in order” and had left his government with “backlogs of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of applications”.

He said his government is trying to shift to an “activist policy” where Canada goes out and recruits the immigrants it needs, and when it receives applications, “prioritize them to the country’s objectives.”

The Prime Minister said that as the rest of the developed world increases its immigration intake, Canada would need the activist immigration policy to “compete, and make sure we get the immigrants both in terms of volumes and particular attributes: skills, expertise and investment capacity.”

Under the Conservative government, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has legislatively wiped out the 280,000 application Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program backlog, and frozen acceptance of new applications under both the FSW program and the Federal Immigrant Investor program as it re-designs the programs and reduces the backlogs.

CIC has also suspended the parent and grandparent sponsorship programs and replaced them with a ‘Super Visa’ that allows foreign parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and landed immigrants to visit Canada for up to ten years.

Immigration Department: 1 Year Canadian Experience Class Launching Jan 2013

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney tweeted more details in recent days about coming changes to the Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker programs

The length of time that a temporary foreign worker needs to have worked full-time in the Canada to qualify for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) immigration program will be reduced from 24 months to 12 months in January 2013, according to a tweet by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

The long expected change in the CEC program’s work experience requirement is intended to increase the share of immigrants that come through the program, as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) considers immigrants with Canadian work experience as more likely to be successful in integrating into Canada’s labour market than those who are admitted under more traditional routes like the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.

The announcement on the date of the CEC program rule change was made in a response to a tweet directed to Kenney, who is quite active on the micro-blogging site, on November 5th:

@KaushikJay The new 1 year threshold for high-skilled temporary foreign workers to qualify for CDN Experience Class will start January, 2013

In a series of tweets on November 4th, Kenney also described when and in what form the revamped FSW program will be launched.

He posted that the final details for the relaunched program would be released in the “1st half of 2013″ and that there would only be “a very limited number of new applications” accepted in 2013, to help CIC “asses [sic] the new grid & educational evaluation”.

He also posted that CIC’s goal was to launch the new Expression of Interest model for the FSW program “around late 2014 / early 2015″.

CIC placed a moratorium on accepting new applications through the FSW program in July 2012, to give it time to deal with the program’s pending application backlog and to design new selection rules and assessment procedures that it says will make the program more economically beneficial for Canada and its application review process faster.

Canada to Keep Immigration Level at 250,000 in 2013

International students in Vancouver, Canada. CIC is seeking to increase the percentage of immigrants admitted under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which allows temporary foreign workers and international students in Canada to apply for permanent residence if they have Canadian work experience (CICS News)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today that it will keep immigration levels at 240,000-265,000 in 2013, for the seventh straight year. The maintenance of immigration numbers from previous years amidst a growing Canadian population means Canada will have a lower immigration rate as a percentage of its population, and rebuff calls by several prominent organizations to increase immigration levels to one percent of Canada’s population.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said earlier this year that Canada would hold off on increasing immigration levels until the country does a better job of bringing immigrant employment and income rates up to the Canadian average, and until public sentiment, which in some recent opinion polls weighs against increases in immigration levels, supports higher levels.

CIC said that it also intends to increase the number of new permanent residents admitted through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program from 6,000 in 2011 to 10,000 in 2013.

The Canadian Experience Class was created in 2008 to allow individuals residing in Canada on temporary resident visas to transition to permanent residence. Foreign temporary workers with at least two years of Canadian work experience, and foreign graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions with at least one year of Canadian work experience are eligible to immigrate under the program, which CIC says admits the kind of immigrants that would be more likely to integrate well into the Canadian labour market.