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.

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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.

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Canadian Immigration Department Creates New Rules To Fight Refugee Fraud

The Immigration and Refugee Board office in Vancouver. New rules in place since December 15th expedite the processing of asylum claims from Designated Countries of Origin (DCOs) and withdraw their access to the Refugee Appeals Division (RAD) (GOOGLE MAPS)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) last week released a list of 27 countries whose nationals will have their asylum claims expedited.

The new rules were created to fight a growing problem of bogus asylum claims by nationals of European member-state countries, particularly Hungary.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has reported thousands of Hungarian Roma arriving in Canada in recent years and in most cases going on welfare for months/years until their refugee hearing.

In almost all cases, the bogus claimants withdrew their refugee claim before the hearing or had it heard and rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) due to lack of evidence of persecution in their country of origin.

Starting December 15th, the following countries have been classified as designated countries of origin (DCOs) and subject to the new expedited processing rules for asylum claimants they produce:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

The list includes 25 of 27 European member states, as well as the United States and Croatia.

CIC says more countries will be added over the next few months, which could see Romania, another major source of bogus claimants, put on the list. 

The new asylum processing procedures will also see claimants from non-DCO countries have their case heard within 60 days, which is significantly faster than the average 600 days that asylum claimants currently wait.

While claimants from DCO countries will be able to appeal negative IRB decisions at federal court, they will not have access to the newly created Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB, and will not have their removal orders stayed while making an appeal to federal courts, thus closing one of the main means by which bogus claimants extend their stay in Canada.

The criteria used to determine which countries will be designated as ‘safe’ and have the processing of asylum claimants originating from them expedited is at least 60 percent of claimants from the country withdrawing/abandoning their claim, or at least 75 percent of claims by claimants from the country being either withdrawn or abandoned by the claimant, or rejected by the IRB.

For countries from which less than 30 claimants originate each year, a different criterion of existence of an independent judiciary, democratic rights, and the existence of civil society organizations will be used.

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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

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Employment Rate of Canada’s Immigrants, Except Filipinos, Trailing National Average

A Filipino family. Filipinos have the highest employment rate of any group measured in Canada, and are now the largest group of new immigrants in Canada (Henry Lopez)

A Statistics Canada report released last week shows Canadian immigrants continuing to experience lower employment rates than the general population, with the gap growing since the 2008 financial crisis.

According to the report, the employment rate of immigrants aged 25 to 54 in 2011 was 75.6 percent, while that of Canadian-born residents was 82.9 percent. Both Canadian born residents and immigrants saw their employment rate fall between 2008 and 2011, by 1.8 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively.

Immigrants from the Philippines bucked the trend, with the highest employment rate of any group in Canada, at 85.6 percent.

The Philippines has also recently become the largest source of immigrants for Canada, contributing 13 percent of the new immigrant population in 2011, ahead of India (10.8 percent) and China (10.8 percent), which will likely alleviate the immigrant-Canadian-born employment gap in the coming years.

Differences across provinces

Immigrant employment rates varied across the provinces, with Quebec having the worst rates, and Alberta and Manitoba the best.

The employment gap between the Canadian born and immigrants was lowest in the Atlantic region (0.8 percentage points), but the region’s immigrant employment rate was well below the leaders, Alberta and Manitoba, where the overall employment situation is much better and immigrants are employed at rates of 82.5 and 82.3 percent.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, had a below-average immigrant employment rate of 75.4 percent, significantly lower than that of its Canadian born population of 83.3 percent.

The poor showing of Ontario could be partially due to the declining proportion of the province’s immigrant population who are ‘economic immigrants’, meaning those admitted through a skilled worker or investor immigration program, as opposed to family re-unification and refugee programs.

While approximately 52 percent of Ontario’s immigrants are economic immigrants, the average across Canada is 70 percent, a proportion that Ontario’s provincial government wants the province to match.

Improved employment rates over time

The data released also shows that immigrant employment rates rise the longer they have been in the country, starting at 63.5 percent among very recent immigrants (those in the country for five years or less) and increasing to 79.8 percent among immigrants that have been in the country for more than a decade.

Previous analyses done by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have found that proficiency in French or English is among the best predictors of employment and economic success for immigrants, so these findings are not surprising.

To improve the economic performance of those admitted to Canada, CIC is increasing the language requirements for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, which is scheduled to resume in early 2013.

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Canadian Unions Seeking Roll Back of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Two major Canadian unions have asked a federal court for an injunction to prevent the federal government from granting work permits for the Murray River project until their case has been heard (Markus Schweiss)

Two trade unions have filed an application in federal court to force the federal government to reverse its decision to grant some 200 work permits to temporary foreign workers from China that a Canadian company wants to hire to run a new mine in British Columbia.

The International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, which together represent the majority of workers employed in Canadian mines, are asking for a judicial review to over-turn the Canadian government’s grant of Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to HD Mining International, the operator of the Murray River project near Tumbler Ridge, BC, near the Alberta border.

The unions argue that the decision harms Canadian wage-earners and does not meet HRSDC’s own standards for receiving approval to hire temporary foreign workers.

Under Canadian immigration law, a company wishing to hire a temporary foreign worker is required to apply to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for a LMO, which HRSDC approves if it meets five main conditions:

  • the wages and working conditions offered are consistent with prevailing norms for the occupation in Canada;
  • the foreign worker would fill a pressing labour shortage;
  • there is no labour dispute between a union and the employer in progress;
  • the employer made a significant effort to recruit or train Canadians or permanent residents for the position that the temporary foreign worker will fill;
  • the foreign worker will result in a net benefit to the Canadian economy and workers

According to an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday by Brian Cochrane, a business manager for Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the unions have succeeded in forcing the federal government to disclose internal documents relating to HD Mining’s application for the LMOs:

We have been successful in court so far. We have been granted standing by the court to challenge the federal government on these LMOs, and we have succeeded in forcing them to release more than 85 pages of secret documents, despite their strong objections. We are now continuing to seek a full judicial review of the temporary foreign workers program.

HD Mining’s transition plan

Included among the documents disclosed is a transition plan that HD Mining International submitted to HRSDC in its LMO application, which outlines how it said it will replace its temporary foreign workforce with Canadians over a period of 14 years.

The transition plan calls for the first Canadian workers to begin working at the mine in four years, and for 10 percent of the foreign workforce to be replaced by Canadians every year for the next 10 years afterwards, as they are trained.

To demonstrate its intention of following through with its plan and eventually hiring Canadians, HD Mining recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Northern Lights College to develop an underground mining education program that will train Canadians for positions in the mine.

The transition plan is touted by the mining company as evidence that the use of foreign workers will be temporary, while the unions and other critics of the foreign worker decision say that the 14 year length of the transition period shows the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is being mis-used for long term labour needs.

Wider questions about Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The unions’ court challenge of the HRSDC’s LMO decision on HD Mining and the subsequent media attention it received spurred the federal government to announce a review of the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to determine if it was too lenient in granting work permits.

The review comes amid a steadily increasing temporary foreign worker population, from approximately 100,000 in 2002 to over 300,000 today, which has drawn criticism from a diverse coalition that includes labour union advocates and free-market economists.

In one example, SFU economist and senior fellow at the free-market-leaning Fraser Institute Herbert Grubel last month called the TFWP a subsidy for business that comes at the expense of lower Canadian wages, a statement that is virtually indistinguishable from many that are coming from much more left-leaning labour unions.

Much of public opinion is also cool to the foreign worker program, with a CBC/Nanos survey this month showing that 68 percent of respondents said they were against allowing temporary foreign workers into the country if there were Canadians looking for work who are qualified for the same jobs.

Despite the opposition, there is no sign that the demand for temporary foreign workers from Canadian businesses will slow down soon, as companies in the resources sectors find it difficult to meet their labour needs in often inhospitable locations, and various occupations that are undesirable to Canada’s workers for the wages offered face labour shortages.

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Canada’s Population Hits 35 Million, Immigration Largest Source of Growth

Canada’s projected population surpassed 35 million last week as the country catches up to other G8 member states in population size (Martin C. Barry)

According to Statistics Canada’s population clock, Canada’s population passed 35 million last week, a notable landmark in the country’s developmental history, from a sparsely populated British colony in the 19th century to an emerging economic force in the world today.

The data shows that the annual population growth rate in the country has averaged 1 percent over the last decade, the highest among the G8.

The leading source of population growth continues to be immigration, with net migration (immigration minus emigration) accounting for two-thirds of population increases and natural population growth the rest.

StatCan projects Canada’s population will grow to between 40.1 and 47.7 million people by 2036, with the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario experiencing the largest increase in numbers.

Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to have the lowest population growth, even possibly negative, over the same period, as immigrants choose to settle in other provinces and its own residents migrate to other regions of the country, resulting in it having the oldest population, in terms of the median age of its residents, of any province.

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Canada’s New Federal Skilled Trades Program to Launch January 2nd

Heavy duty equipment mechanics, whose skilled are in demand in Canada’s resource hubs, will be eligible for permanent residence through the new Federal Skilled Trades Program (Jorge Rodriguez)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Monday that the new Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will be launched January 2nd, 2013.

The new program will admit applicants with qualifications in a skilled trade occupation that is in demand by Canadian employers, including electricians, welders, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, and pipefitters. The final list of eligible occupations is still being compiled by CIC with consultation with the provincial governments and will be announced before the January 2nd launch date.

“For too long, Canada’s immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers. These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada’s economy,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

According to CIC, eligible applicants will meet the following four requirements:

  • have an offer of employment or a certificate of qualification from a provincial or territorial apprenticeship authority
  • meet minimum language proficiency requirement, which will be lower than that of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • have a minimum of two years of work experience in an eligible trade occupation
  • have the skills and experience found in the National Occupational Classification (NOC B) for an eligible occupation

The new program will have a quota of 3,000 in 2013, after which applications will no longer be accepted.

The new immigration stream was praised by Michael Atkinson, President of the Canadian Construction Association, who joined Mr. Kenney on Monday for the announcement of the program’s launch: “The new program ensures greater consideration is given to the needs of industry when processing eligible immigration applications.”

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Nationals of 29 Countries to Require Biometrics to Enter Canada

A new biometric chip containing a cryptographically signed digital encoding of the applicant’s photo and fingerprints will be embedded in the Canadian visas and work permits of nationals of 29 designated countries (Government of Canada)

Starting in January 2013, the federal government will require individuals from selected countries wishing to visit or immigrate to Canada to have their biometric information registered and checked before entering the country.

The new rules will apply to nationals of 29 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Subject nationals applying for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at the time of application. Foreign nationals who are Canadian permanent residents or citizens will be exempt from the new rules.

The biometric identification requirement is similar to United States Homeland Security’s biometric registration which applies to all visitors to the U.S. Other countries that use biometrics for border security or immigration control include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on Friday extolled the advantages of the security measure: “Biometrics will strengthen and modernize Canada’s immigration system. Our doors are open to legitimate travellers and, through the use of biometrics, we will also be able to protect the safety and security of Canadians.”

The implementation of the new rules will correspond with the roll-out of the new Canadian ePassport, which will begin being issued on January 1st, 2013, and will include the biometric information of the passport holder.

Federal government officials say that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the federal agencies responsible for administering the new biometric program, will work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to protect the personal personal information of applicants in accordance with Canada’s Privacy Act.

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Provincial Government in Canada Criticizes Remarks About Immigrant Investor Program

A river walkway in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest city

The provincial government of Manitoba on Tuesday shot back at critics who have said the NDP government’s management of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) for Business has been a failure.

Among the critics are Manitoba Progressive Conservative immigration critic Bonnie Mitchelson and the former program manager for the MPNP for Business, Randy Boldt, who say that a report showing that only 20 percent of foreign investors nominated for permanent residence by the Manitoba provincial government have made their required investment points to a total program failure.

The government criticized those statistics as misleading and inaccurate, stating that immigration through the MPNP for Business is a two-step process, with the province first nominating individuals, and the federal government then admitting the individual, and that investor applicants only make their investment after the second step is complete.

The government says that the 20 percent figure is for all applicants who have completed the first step and been nominated by the Manitoba government, and includes many who have yet to complete the second step. Figures that only account for those who have completed both steps shows 60 percent of applicants end up making their investment.

The program requires all immigrant investor applicants to provide a $75,000 deposit, which they forfeit if they do not meet the program’s requirements of investing $150,000 into a Manitoba-based business within two years of arriving in Canada.

The Manitoba government says that $200 million has been invested into the provincial economy through the program since it began in 2000.

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