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

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Immigration applications from victims of typhoon Haiyan in Philippines to be fast-tracked

A satellite shot of hurricane Haiyan

Canada’s immigration department says it is giving special consideration to Filipinos affected by typhoon Haiyan.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office says it will give priority to applications from Filipinos who are “significantly and personally affected” by the typhoon that left thousands dead last weekend.

The note also says that Filipino citizens temporarily in Canada who want to remain will be assessed in a “compassionate and flexible manner.”

The announcement comes as the Canadian military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, heads for the hard-hit Philippine city of Iloilo.

The Canadian Forces are also helping with the deployment of a separate 12-member Canadian Red Cross field hospital.

Philippine authorities say Iloilo, one of two major cities on the island of Panay, was in the direct path of the typhoon and suffered 162 deaths and the destruction of 68,543 houses as a result.

Canada’s skills gap continues to widen, according to study

According to a new study from global recruiting firm Hays PLC, which surveyed the skills gap in 30 developed countries around the world, Canada ranks ninth for the severity of its skills shortage, and its score deteriorated in the past year.

Countries such as Japan, the United States, Germany and Sweden top the list in skilled worker shortage.

Study shows that Canada ranks 9th in the developed world in shortage of skilled workers

The report highlights two key findings

First, the state and the efficiency of a labour market in any particular country is not necessarily driven by the state of the economy in that point in time. Rather, the data suggests through the index that the efficiency of the labour market is driven by more structural factors. That said, the governments can introduce reforms to improve those structural factors, regardless of where they are in the economic cycle.

The second key finding that the index illustrates is that there is a very strong link between the efficiency of an educational system and the ability of that economy to produce the talent that the nation’s industries require both today and in the future. Making sure that business and the educational systems are in sync to produce sufficient numbers of the right quality graduates in the right areas for future talent. That’s the fundamental part of what drives the efficiency in any particular market.

As the global economy recovers and as the Canadian work force continues to age, without a change in policy, the situation in Canada and other developed countries will likely get worse. Canada is falling behind in implementing enough changes to meet the demand for highly skilled migration.

How to improve the skilled worker shortage and avoid disaster in the future

As according to Alistair Cox, the chief executive of Hays PLC, there are three areas where business and the governments can work together to strengthen these labour markets and reduce these inefficiencies that we see in some of these economies:

The first is for the government to foster a business environment of flexibilities, where businesses can build the work force they need for the future. This can be achieved through flexible working arrangements and skilled immigration.

The second method is to make sure that the educational system in an economy are really tuned into what businesses are going to need in the future in terms of the number of right skills.

The third is for businesses to look at their own policy in terms of attracting and retaining staff. Not just younger staff but also retaining and retraining older staff within their own work force.

Immigration Canada making changes

It’s not yet known how effective it will be, however, Canada is working on some changes in the system that are expected to be implemented in late 2014. Last year, Immigration Canada and the provinces, reached an agreement on the future of Canadian immigration system. The system will give the provinces a central role in immigrant selection. This new system will be based on a model called Expression of Interest (EOI).

The EOI model is an immigrant selection process which requires those seeking to immigrate to first file a simplified application, with immigration authorities. From that pool of applicants, the most promising candidates, based on the immigration department’s selection criteria, are then selected, and invited to submit a full application which includes documentation to prove their claimed qualifications.

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.

Canada Top Country for Immigrant Businesses – Financial Post

Canada tops the list of countries to start a business according to a new article in the Financial Post (Martin Cajzer)

An article featured in last Friday’s Financial Post makes the case for Canada being one of the best countries in the world for immigrants to start a business.

Among the factors that make Canada such a welcoming place for immigrant entrepreneurs are its business friendly environment and immigration program, says author Chris Riddell:

The World Bank labelled Canada the best place in the G-7 to start a business, and thanks to an open immigration policy, a comparatively easy one to enter. Add a strong banking system, growing job market, and high standard of living, and it’s no wonder it tops immigrant entrepreneurs’ list.

For many, the government’s Start-Up Visa launched in April is making Canada an even more appealing place.

For business people considering Canada as a destination for immigration, there are three points to consider:

  • The per capita income of new immigrants is well below the Canadian average, with the gap growing since the early 1970s despite the average level of education of recent immigrants increasing in the intervening time. The longer an immigrant is in Canada, the closer their income tends to be to the Canadian average.

  • Immigrants and first-generation Canadians make up a sizeable percentage of Canada’s millionaires, at 48 percent.

  • The average income of immigrants who are admitted into Canada through the business class immigration programs is slightly below that of immigrants admitted through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), despite the former group having had to meet stringent capital and business experience requirements.

Taken together, it suggests that:

1) immigrants who arrive through economic class non-business immigration programs, like the FSWP, are likely not at a significant disadvantage compared to their business class counterparts in their chance of creating a successful business, that

2) immigrants are likely more entrepreneurial than the general population, and that

3) many immigrant business people fail for the few that succeed.

Matt Man, a successful immigrant businessman profiled for Riddell’s article, advises immigrants who are starting their business to try to get as much face-time as possible to improve their chance of success:

“Face to face can always make up for some of what I lost due to my accent or the way I’m communicating.”

Federal Skilled Worker Program Opens to Immigration Applicants

New Canadians taking their Citizenship Oath. After nearly one year, the Federal Skilled Worker Program opened to new applications on May 4 with a set of changes to the applicant assessment process (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

The federal government began accepting Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applications on Saturday, marking an end to a nearly one year moratorium on the skilled worker program.

The annual reset of the program’s quota was scheduled for July 1 2012, but was postponed due to a backlog of FSW applications that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said it needed to work through, and to give CIC time to make changes it said were needed to make the program better meet Canada’s economic needs.

The new annual quota for the FSWP is set at 5,000 applications, which is less than the 10,000 application cap of 2012, and is expected to be filled quickly as immigration hopefuls rush to apply after a years-long wait. The 5,000 applications accepted are expected to represent about 12,500 people as they will include spouses and dependents of principal applicants.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney promoted the goals of the program changes on Friday, saying they would benefit Canada:

“The government’s number one priority remains jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our changes ensure not only that Canada can select the immigrants most needed by our economy, but that they are best positioned for success.”

These changes include a greater weight placed on English or French language ability, applicants of a younger age, and Canadian work experience, in assessments of FSW applicants. The changes were made after research and consultations to find the factors that most often accompanied successful economic integration and employment by immigrants.

The program has also introduced a requirement for applicants to provide Educational Credential Assessements (ECAs) for credentials earned outside of Canada, provided from one of three organizations designated to provide ECAs.

Federal Court Rules Against Immigration Hopefuls in Skilled Worker Backlog

Justice Donald Rennie ruled that the federal government was within its rights to eliminate Federal Skilled Worker Program applications affecting approximately 280,000 people last year (StockMonkeys.com)

A federal court on Thursday ruled that the Canadian government was within its rights when it threw out the backlog of applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) that were filed before February 27, 2008.

Presiding judge, Justice Donald Rennie, said that “section 87.4 [of Bill C-38] is valid legislation, compliant with the rule of law, the Bill of Rights and the Charter.”

He addressed the fact that the legislation had caused would-be immigrants in the queue anguish:

“The applicants have waited in the queue for many years only to find the entrance door closed. They see the termination of their hope for a new life in Canada to be an unfair, arbitrary and unnecessary measure.”

But maintained that the applications were “terminated by operation of law” and that the court did not have the jurisdiction to overturn the legislation.

Lorne Waldman, a lawyer who represents the 1,400 people who are suing the federal government to force it to process their applications, said he would recommend to his clients to appeal Justice Rennie’s decision, which they have 15 days to do.

Federal Skilled Worker Occupation List Released

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced 24 occupations that will eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) today released the list of 24 occupations that will be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) when it launches next month on May 4th.

Furthermore, four organizations designated to provide Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs) for applicants who studied outside of Canada.

The eligible occupations are:

  • Engineering managers
  • Financial and investment analysts
  • Geoscientists and oceanographers
  • Civil engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Mining engineers
  • Geological engineers
  • Petroleum engineers
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers)
  • Land surveyors
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety
  • Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Medical laboratory technologists
  • Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
  • Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • Medical radiation technologists
  • Medical sonographers
  • Cardiology technicians and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified)

The organizations designated to provide ECAs are:

  • Comparative Education Service: University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
  • International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
  • World Education Services
  • Medical Council of Canada

Moreover, CIC announced a 5,000 cap for new FSWP applications, and a sub-cap of 300 applications for each eligible occupation.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the new applications would take one year to process:

“As a result of the actions taken by the Government to deal with the massive backlogs and unacceptably long wait times, FSW applications will be processed in approximately one year.”

“We will not be able to remain competitive and attract the skilled immigrants we need if we allow backlogs and wait times to grow again. That’s why we are capping application intake and focusing on specific occupations that are experiencing labour shortages in Canada. This will also help us transition nicely into the just-in-time immigration system of the future,” Kenney added.

Canada’s Immigration Backlog Reduced by 40 Percent

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced on Tuesday that his department had reduced the backlog of permanent resident applications by forty percent since 2008 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) backlog of permanent resident applications has declined by forty percent since 2008, according to a CIC announcement on Tuesday.

A freeze in the acceptance of new Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Immigrant Investor applications, in place since July 2012, and an indefinite suspension of the parent and grandparent sponsorship stream of the Family Class immigration program, have reduced the rate at which CIC is receiving new permanent resident applications and allowed it to work through the backlog.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney applauded the development in a press conference, saying a reduced backlog would allow for a faster and better immigration system:

“Backlogs and delays prevent Canada from attracting the best and brightest from around the world and ensuring that our immigration system is contributing to economic growth and long-term prosperity. For too long, we accepted far more applications than we could process each year. That led to backlogs increasing every year and processing times of eight to ten years in some cases, which discouraged talented, dynamic people from coming to Canada.”

CIC’s goal is to reduce processing times of applications for permanent residence to less than one year, from the sometimes over five years that it has taken in recent years.

The eventual goal is to put in place an Expression of Interest (EOI) model by the end of 2014, which will solicit simplified applications from foreign nationals interested in immigrating to Canada and invite the most promising applicants to submit a full application.

Changes to Arranged Employment Stream of Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Services Canada centre in Ottawa Centre. Applicants under the arranged employment stream of the Federal Skilled Worker Program need to include a positive Labour Market Opinion from Services Canada (HRSDC) with their application beginning May 4, 2013 (GOOGLE MAPS)

Changes will be coming to application requirements under the arranged employment stream of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) on May 4, 2013, according to an announcement by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) this week.

Individuals with arranged employment in Canada and those enrolled in or who have graduated from a PhD program at a Canadian educational institution are the only groups of people who are currently eligible for the FSWP, as the program is suspended in preparation for the launch of new selection rules for the general application stream on May 4th.

In order for applicants outside of Canada to qualify for the FSW arranged employment stream, they are required to submit an Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for a skilled job (NOC skill level A or B), along with their application.

Applicants that are in Canada with a work permit at the time of their application are not required to submit an AEO.

According to this week’s notice, starting May 4th, CIC will require applicants outside of Canada to submit a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) instead of an AOE along with their application.

A LMO is typically issued by HRSDC to employers seeking a work permit for a foreign national they are interested in employing in Canada, and shows that the employment of the foreign national in Canada would likely not negatively affect Canadian jobs in the opinion of HRSDC.

Changing to requiring LMOs is expected to simplify government processes and save on procedural costs.