If you are a business person looking to make an investment in Canada, the Business Immigration Program may be an important fast-track Canadian immigration option for you. Business Immigration seeks to attract foreign nationals with business and managerial experience who will contribute to the development of the Canadian economy. Through this priority processing program, you could be immigrating to Canada in a matter of months.
Archives for November 2008
Following Prime Minister Harper’s re-election last month, he appointed a new cabinet and a new Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Jason Kenney, former Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity and a well-known figure in Canadian ethnic communities, has been appointed to this position.
Jason Kenney was first elected to the House of Commons in 1997 and has served as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity since the beginning of 2007. Since that time, he has been instrumental in building a connection between Canadian immigrants and the Conservative Party; having attended over 400 cultural events and having held consultations with immigrant groups to hear their goals and concerns first-hand.
In delivering his first address as the Immigration Minister, Kenney stated that the Government of Canada remains committed to a dynamic immigration program and to the successful integration of newcomers.
“Just as immigration has played a strong role in our past, it will continue to be important to our future,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada is respected around the world for the way we’ve managed to bring in people from all over the globe. We have done this with a spirit of openness and tolerance, embracing diversity and becoming stronger for it.”
“I look forward to the privilege of serving as Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism as we continue our commitment to reuniting families, to maintaining our humanitarian obligations to refugees, and to supporting Canada’s economy,” he added.
In his new role as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Minister Kenney will be taking over the task of rolling out the amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, introduced by his predecessor, Diane Finley.
Finley has been moved back to Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), the portfolio that she left in 2006 to take over immigration. HRSDC and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) work closely together to ensure that Canada’s newcomers can help address the country’s labour force needs.
With Minister Kenney’s appointment, the role of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was transferred the duties and functions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage regarding multiculturalism and human rights.
In the Government of Canada’s recent Speech from the Throne, Governor General Michaëlle Jean stated that the federal government will “work with the provinces to make the recognition of foreign credentials a priority”. In addition to the establishment of the Foreign Credential Referral Office last year, provincial governments have been working to develop tailor-made plans to ensure that newcomers can quickly integrate into the workforce. This month, Alberta introduced a new program.
The Canadian business community, which has been calling for the acceleration of foreign credential recognition to ease skilled worker shortages, applauded the Government of Canada’s recognition of this issue as a priority in its Throne Speech.
Foreign qualification recognition is an important step in the newcomer settlement process. It verifies that education, skills, and work experience obtained outside Canada are in line with the standards established for Canadian workers. The process involves many stakeholder groups including professional regulatory organizations, educational institutions, industry councils, non-government organizations, and providers of foreign credential recognition services.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada runs the Foreign Credential Referral Office (FCRO), which provides in-person foreign credential referral services for internationally-trained newcomers at 320 Service Canada centres across the country and has implemented overseas orientation sessions as well. The FCRO website, which offers information about occupations in various locations in Canada (local labour market, job duties, skill requirements, wage rates, etc.) has seen a lot of traffic in its first year of operations, as has its dedicated phone service.
The provinces have also been proactive in improving the foreign credential recognition process, intent on helping newcomers contribute to the workforce to their full abilities.
This month, Alberta released A Foreign Qualifications Recognition Plan for Alberta. The plan was developed through consultation with stakeholders and various government ministries.
The key features of the plan are:
- To create a $1-million Innovation Fund to encourage the development of innovative and flexible approaches to foreign qualifications assessment;
- To improve access to information and resources for employers, immigrants and potential newcomers;
- To develop International Education Guides which will include comprehensive information on educational systems and credentials in other countries, along with comparisons to Alberta standards; and
- To develop occupational profiles detailing the certification, licensing, or assessment process.
“Streamlining foreign qualification recognition is a ‘win-win’ scenario for newcomers to our province and for Alberta,” stated Doug Horner, Alberta Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. “This plan will help expand our labour market, strengthen our economy and provide opportunities for immigrants to make the most of the skills they’ve brought to out province.”
Saskatchewan has just made it easier for international students to become Canadian Permanent Residents. British Columbia (BC) is now helping its substantial food processing sector to retain foreign skilled workers by nominating them for fast-track Canadian immigration. These students and workers have now been added to a growing list of foreign nationals who can qualify for fast-track Canadian Permanent Residency under the various Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP).
Provincial Nomination Programs remain an important fast-track option for Canadian immigration. At the root of their success is the fact that they select newcomers who are most likely to integrate into the regional workforce and society efficiently and effectively. Though all PNP’s differ, the various programs have categories for skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, family members, business investors, international students, and farmers among others. To continue to attract and retain these valuable newcomers, the provincial governments are frequently refining their immigration systems, adding and tweaking PNP categories to accurately reflect the current needs of the province.
This month, British Columbia has introduced a new pilot project for workers in the food processing sector, and Saskatchewan has altered its international student category to make it easier for them to settle in the province:
Food processing is BC’s second largest manufacturing sector, generating $6.7 billion annually. Canadian employers in this sector have been suffering from chronic labour shortages and welcome the new addition to the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) as a means to maintain a stable workforce. Under this category, the BC employer sponsors the foreign worker for fast-track Canadian immigration.
To qualify, individuals must have been working in a qualifying occupation (such as beverage and fish processing, process control, industrial butchering, testing and grading in food, and machine operations) in BC on a Temporary Work Permit for at least nine months and must be currently working for their employer at the time of application.
Additionally, the Saskatchewan Government made changes to the Student Category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), making it easier for international students to qualify for this fast-track Permanent Residency option.
To be eligible for this category, international graduates of Canadian post-secondary academic institutions must have worked for a Saskatchewan employer on a Post-Graduation Work Permit for a period of at least six months. Previously the occupation had to be in the international graduate’s field of study. This requirement has now been removed to make qualification easier.
Since the Student Category of the SINP was established, 158 international graduates have been nominated by the province to become Permanent Residents. On an annual basis, approximately 3,500 foreign students study in Saskatchewan.
These PNP changes reflect the provincial and federal resolve to help temporary residents more easily transition into Canadian Permanent Residents and eventually Canadian citizens.
In a few days from now, the waiting will be over.
Not only will we know the fate of the Federal Skilled Worker applications submitted to the Canadian Visa Offices after February 27, 2008, (now in a suspended state) but we will also find out what lies in store for Skilled Worker applications that will be submitted in the coming twelve months. More to the point, we expect to soon learn which of these applications are going to be processed quickly; which ones are to be held at the Visa Office for processing at a later date, and finally, which applications are going to be returned without any consideration at all. This information will come via publicized instructions that the new Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (now, there’s a mouthful) will issue to the various Canadian Visa Offices.