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Software Pilot Project: 2000 And Beyond

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The Federal Government has recently announced plans to convert its popular Pilot Project for Software Development Workers into a permanent policy.

Faced with a critical shortage of qualified Canadian software development professionals several years ago, representatives of the Canadian software industry petitioned the Canadian immigration authorities to facilitate the temporary admission into Canada of foreign software development professionals. In response to this outcry, Immigration Canada established its Pilot Project for Software Development Workers in 1997.

Prior to the implementation of the Pilot Project, foreign software development professionals seeking temporary entry into Canada for the purpose of engaging in employment were required to have their Canadian job offer approved (validated) by a Canadian Human Resources Development Centre. With this job offer validation in hand, an application for an Employment Authorization could be made.

The problem that the Canadian software industry had with the job offer validation process was its relative complex and time-consuming nature. The rationale behind the job offer validation requirement is to ensure that Employment Authorizations are granted only in cases where their issuance will not have a negative impact on the Canadian job market. The job offer validation process thus entails a demonstration that a “significant” effort has been made to seek and hire a Canadian for the position in which there is a petition for validation. In general, the Canadian employer must establish that the foreign individual has special abilities or skills which are not easily found within Canada.

What the Pilot Project effectively accomplished was to remove the job offer validation requirement for qualified foreign software professionals. By creating a “National Validation Letter,” all job offers made to qualified foreign software development professionals would be deemed to be validated by a Canadian Human Resources Development Centre. Each job offer would be required to fit within one of the seven job descriptions contemplated by the Pilot Project.

The Pilot Project was initially set to expire on December 31, 1998, but due to its popularity, was subsequently extended to December 31, 1999

Last week, Immigration Canada announced that the Pilot Project would be converted into a permanent policy – to be known as “Facilitated Processing for Information Technology Workers.” Until this permanent policy is in place, however, the Pilot Project will remain in effect beyond December 31, 1999 on an interim basis.

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