International graduates and temporary foreign workers have established themselves in Canadian society and are well-poised to become Permanent Residents and eventually Canadian citizens. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a new immigration category, has been created specifically to facilitate this transition. Recognizing their Canadian education and/or work experience, the Canadian Experience Class will fast-track their Canadian immigration applications, to ensure that Canada retains these valuable contributors to the Canadian economy and work force. Under the CEC, these applicants can remain in Canada throughout the processing of their applications.
Archives for August 2008
After months of deliberations and consultations, the details of what will govern the selection of skilled worker applicants for immigration to Canada will finally be disclosed early in the fall, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister Diane Finley.
The new amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which were made law in June, have given the Immigration Minister the ability to prioritize the processing of Canadian immigration applications based on Canada’s socio-economic needs. In what was a once first-come-first-served system, where all applications were considered on the same objective criteria, the Minister will now be issuing instructions to the Canadian immigration visa officers as to which applications should be fast-tracked, which should be held for review at a later time, and which should be returned outright.
The ministerial instructions will be issued in the fall, to be applied to Federal Skilled Worker applications received on or after February 27, 2008. They will be based on the prospective immigrant’s ability to ease regional labour shortages and contribute to the community.
CIC representatives have spent the past month or so in consultation with stakeholders groups across Canada in order to establish the framework for these instructions. At each meeting, participants focused on three central questions: What is the role of immigration in Canada? What are the critical short-term and long-term labour shortages? And what are some issues and barriers to credential recognition?
Though Minister Finley has yet to disclose the particular occupations that will be prioritized, she noted that nearly all regions are facing shortages in the medical, financial, and IT sectors.
The policy changes follow on 2008 budget commitments to modernize Canada’s immigration system. $109 million over five years has been allocated to reducing wait times for new applicants, reducing the current backlog of applications, and better responding to Canada labour market needs through immigration.
With this funding, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has begun recording occupational information for applicants in the current Federal Skilled Worker backlog.
Where possible, the department plans to divert qualified applicants to the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP) for priority processing.
CIC is also working towards increasing capacity and efficiency at Canadian immigration visa offices where the backlogs are the greatest, and reconfirming the intentions of applicants who face the longest wait times. It also intends to centralize the receipt of new applications in order to better control the backlog.
Nevertheless, the Conservative government’s amendments to Canadian immigration legislation remain highly criticized by Opposition parties and other stakeholder groups, who charge that the Conservatives plans are too near-sighted, too labour market-oriented, and could potentially overshadow Provincial Nomination Programs.
The Liberal Opposition has developed an alternate immigration plan to be introduced in its election platform, should a fall 2008 federal election be called.
The bottom line for now is that ministerial instructions are on the way for all skilled worker applications that have been frozen in the system since February 27th.
Though Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal continue to absorb the majority of newcomers to Canada, each of their respective national shares of immigrants have dropped as Canadian newcomers have begun to appreciate the advantages of living in smaller cities.
Recently released Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) statistics show that Canada’s small and mid-sized urban areas are enjoying an immigration boom.
In 2007, the number of immigrants who took up residence Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island was up by 73 per cent from the previous year. In Moncton, New Brunswick, that number was up by 31 per cent. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan saw a rise of 40 per cent, and the small community of Red Deer, Alberta received 93 per cent more newcomers in 2007 than the year before.
The change is largely due to shifting economic and employment prospects across the country and successful regional initiatives such as the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) and increased recruitment and retention efforts from smaller cities.
Major urban cities are often cited as a preferred destination for newcomers because of their established ethnic communities and greater economic opportunities for individuals who do not have a high proficiency in English or French.
However, recent studies have shown that newcomers who settle in smaller cities often enjoy a more successful economic integration. Labour-force participation is highest in areas outside Canada’s threes largest metropolises, unemployment rates are lower, incomes are higher, and housing is less crowded. Moreover, many immigrants who have left big busy cities behind in their home countries are seeking out smaller quieter communities in Canada.
In their efforts to spread Canadian newcomers across the country, CIC has been encouraging smaller cities to step up their recruitment and retention efforts to educate immigrants about different possible destinations in Canada. It has provided a guide to assist with this: Attracting and Retaining Immigrants: A Tool Box of Ideas for Smaller Centres.
An influx of immigrants is very beneficial to small and mid-sized cities in terms of increasing the labour pool, raising the municipal tax base, and adding greater cultural diversification to the communities.
Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP) across the country have seen much success in the recruitment and retention of Canadian immigrants based on regional socio-economic priorities. They are constantly evolving and expanding to make room for more newcomers and to adapt to the provinces/territories’ changing needs. Saskatchewan and Newfoundland Labrador have both made additions to their PNP’s this month, adding a category for hospitality workers and international graduates, respectively.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) introduced the Hospitality Sector Project in response to the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s identification of acute labour shortages in three occupational groups: food counter attendants, food and beverage servers, and light-duty cleaners. Saskatchewan employers have been unable to find local workers to fill these positions and have been looking to temporary foreign workers to staff their businesses.
To be nominated for fast-track Permanent Residency under this category, applicants must have been working in Saskatchewan on a temporary work permit for at least six months. They must have a minimum of Grade 12 education (or equivalent) and the necessary English language abilities to continue to work in their occupation.
More and more PNP categories, such as Saskatchewan’s Hospitality Sector Project, are being created for semi-skilled and lower-skilled workers as a means to retain them as Canadian Permanent Residents. The goal is to keep these temporary foreign workers, who were brought over and trained to respond to regional labour shortages, from having to leave.
Newfoundland and Labrador has introduced an International Graduate category to its PNP in order to encourage foreign students in its post-secondary institutions to stay in the province and contribute to the work force.
To qualify for this program, applicants must have graduated, within the past two years, from a recognized Newfoundland and Labrador post-secondary institution. They must have obtained a degree, diploma, or certificate for a program of at least two years in length. They will also need a full-time permanent job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer (that is related to their field of study) or have the reasonable expectation of employment in the near future. Applicants must obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit and have the necessary qualifications and sufficient English or French language ability for the position being offered.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s PNP joins six other provincial programs in offering an international graduate category.
It seems more probable by the day that Canadians will be going to the polls in the next couple of months to elect a new federal government. A snap election will likely be called by the minority Conservative government as early as September 5th for later in the Fall on the pretext that Parliament is now dysfunctional.