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.

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.

New Canadian Immigration Program for Skilled Trades Opens

The Federal Skilled Trades Program was launched on Wednesday to acclaim from construction industry leaders

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officially launched the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) on Wednesday, and plans to admit up to 3,000 permanent residents through the program in 2013.

Applicants of the FSTP must meet three general requirements to be eligible for the program:

  • meet the minimum language requirements of the program,
  • have at least two years of full-time work experience (or an equivalent amount of part-time work experience) in an accepted skilled trade within five years of the date of the application,
  • have a Certificate of Qualification or a job offer(s) from up to two Canadian employers that totals at least one year of full time work

Construction industry leaders have welcomed the program, which they say could mitigate the pressing labour shortages they are facing in many of the trades.

“Today’s announcement is good news for the construction industry because the need for workers with trade skills will continue to grow as Alberta’s economy grows,” said Merit Contractors Association in Alberta vice-president Bill Stewart.

Canadian Construction Association president Michael Atkinson had similar praise for the program:

“The Canadian Construction Association is especially pleased to hear today’s announcement that the new federal Skilled Trades Program to be launched on January 2nd, 2013.”

In order to make it easier for skilled trades persons to immigrate to Canada, CIC created the FSTP with no post-secondary education requirements and lower language proficiency requirements than the well-known Federal Skilled Worker Program.

New Federal Skilled Worker Program to Launch May 4 2013

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced today that the long-awaited Federal Skilled Worker Program will be launched on May 4th 2013 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced today that the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) will re-open on May 4 2013 with the new selection rules.

CIC closed the FSWP to new applications in July 2012, saying it needed time to reduce the program back-log and re-design the point system used to select immigrants to better meet Canada’s economic needs.

The re-launched FSWP will award more points for youth and English/French language proficiency, factors CIC says its body of research shows contribute to economic success for immigrants.

FSW applicants will need to meet the Canadian Language Benchmark 7 standard for English proficiency to qualify for the program, which is the equivalent to scoring 6 on the IELTS, the most widely taken English language assessment test.

The new FSWP selection rules will also utilize an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) process that will be introduced with the program, which will award points for foreign educational credentials based on assessments of their equivalent value in Canada.

A list of organizations designated  by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to do the assessments will be released in early 2013.

“For too long, too many immigrants to Canada have experienced underemployement and unemployment, and this has been detrimental to these newcomers and to the Canadian economy,” said Kenney.

“Our transformational changes to the FSWP will help ensure that skilled newcomers are able to contribute their skills fully to the economy as soon as possible. This is good for newcomers, good for the economy, and good for all Canadians.”

CIC also said that new FSWP applications will be processed in months, instead of years, owing to the work the department has done in reducing the existent backlog and limits the program will put in place in quantity of applications it will accept.

Federal Skilled Worker Program fact-sheet

  • Maximum points awarded for a principal applicant’s proficiency in a first official language increased from 16 to 24 points, in proficiency in a second official language reduced from 8 to 4 points
  • Maximum of 12 points awarded to applicants aged 19 to 35, with decreasing points awarded until age 46
  • Maximum number of points awarded for foreign work experience reduced from 21 to 15
  • Points awarded for spousal education replaced with a maximum of 4 points awarded for spousal language proficiency
  • Maximum of 10 points awarded for Canadian work experience
  • Points awarded for foreign education credentials to be determined by an assessment of the foreign credential’s equivalent value in Canada as assessed by an organization that is designated to provide credential assessment and authentication

New Language Requirements For Canadian Citizenship Coming into Effect November 1st

The UBC English Language Institute is one of thousands of locations where individuals can take an IELTS exam. Citizenship applicants will be required to submit the results from CIC-approved third-party tests like the IELTS or provide evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French to be have their application processed.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today that the majority of citizenship applicants will be required to demonstrate language proficiency in English or French when they apply, effective November 1st, 2012.

Currently, CIC assesses applicants’ language proficiency through the interaction their staff have with the applicant, and from the applicant’s citizenship knowledge test results.

Under coming changes, citizenship applicants will be required to submit the results of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, and score at least 4.0 and 4.5 on the speaking and listening portions, respectively.

In order for applicants to demonstrate French language proficiency, they will be required to submit the results of the Test d’évaluation de français (TEF), and score at least 181 and 145 on the speaking and listening portions.

Applicants can have the language test requirement waived if they can show evidence of having completed secondary or post-secondary education in English or French.

The new language requirements will only apply to applicants aged 18-54.

Financial Post Addresses Growing Income Disparity Between Recent Immigrants and Other Canadians

1880 poster inviting people to immigrate to Canada. The income gap between recent immigrants and native born Canadians has grown from 20 percent in 1970 to 39 percent today.

The growing income gap between recent immigrants and longer-established Canadians received special news coverage today with a report in the Financial Post by the deputy chief economist of CIBC, Benjamin Tal.

The article describes the deteriorating position of newly arrived immigrants relative to native-born Canadians by comparing what it was in the 1970s to what it is today:

A male immigrant who arrived in Canada in the 1970s made about 80¢ on the dollar relative to a Canadian-born worker, and he was able to narrow the gap at a rate of roughly 1¢ per year. Today, despite the fact two-thirds of newcomers have post-secondary education, their earnings have dropped to close to 60¢ on the dollar and the gap is narrowing at a much slower pace. Nearly half of the individuals who immigrated to Canada between 2001 and 2006 are overqualified for the jobs they occupy.

Tal places a large economic price on the growing income gap, estimating it deprives Canada of $20 billion in earnings a year, and argues that the Canadian economy will need to do better at harnessing the economic potential of its immigrants if it is to make up for the decreasing ratio of Canadian workers to retirees as Canada’s population ages.

The editorial counsels against expanding immigration programs designed to meet Canada’s short term labour market needs by allowing lower skilled workers to become permanent residents, arguing that lower-skilled workers are less able to adapt to changing labour market conditions. It points out that even in the comparatively long-term-focused Federal Skilled Worker Program, one third of the preferred occupations are construction-industry related, and that a slowdown in the housing market could leave immigrants in these vocations lacking the qualifications to work in Canada.

Tal recommends that to address the income gap, the Canadian government should borrow from Australian immigration policy, which manages to keep income disparity between its immigrant and native-born workers at 50 percent the level seen in Canada, and raise language proficiency requirements for immigration.

This is not the first time an economist for a large Canadian bank has recommended increasing the language bar for immigrants. A report by TD chief economist Craig Alexander in February proposed increasing official language proficiency requirements for immigration applicants along with expanding the role of provincial nominee programs in selecting immigrants in order to reduce the income and employment gap between immigrants and native-born Canadians.

Low-skill Provincial Nominee Program Applicants to Face Language Requirements

Low-skilled applicants for Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) will be required to pass language tests to immigrate to Canada according to an announcement by the Immigration Ministry on Wednesday in Saskatoon.

Until now, provinces have been relatively free to determine their own criteria for nominating foreigners for immigration to Canada, but Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said this has allowed a large number of people without sufficient English or French language proficiency to immigrate to Canada.

He stated that there is a “correlation” between lack of language skills and immigration fraud, and that language testing for PNP applicants are being made mandatory as part of an effort to reduce fraud.