Changes made to H1B fast-track Canadian immigration category

CIC News
Published: May 26, 2009

In the April edition of our newsletter, we had reported that changes were coming to the popular U.S. Visa Holder category of the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP).  Earlier this month, those changes were announced and, as suspected, the list of qualifying occupations was reduced.  Eight of the information technology (IT) occupations have been removed from the list.  Though the program remains open to U.S. H1B holders with experience in 73 management, business, science, and health occupations, some IT professionals no longer qualify for the program.  Nevertheless, several other Canadian immigration options remain open to these individuals.

Like the Federal Skilled Worker category, the appeal of the AINP H1B program is that applicants do not need a job offer to qualify.  In order to succeed, AINP applicants simply must have been working in the United States on a temporary work visa* for at least one year in an occupation that is in high demand in Alberta.  Federal Skilled Worker applicants, on the other hand, must achieve 67 points based on six selection factors in order to qualify.

The Alberta H1B fast-track immigration program is still wide open to temporary workers in the United States who have work experience in one of the listed 73 qualifying occupations.  Engineers, Sales and Marketing Managers, Financial Auditors, Biologists, Electrical Technicians, Urban Planners, and Pharmacists, among others, are still welcomed by the program.  Additionally, "Computer and Information Systems Managers" remains on Alberta's list of occupations under pressure.

The eight IT occupations that were removed from the AINP list had been among the most popular under the U.S. Visa Holder category.

"A big chunk of the AINP applicants we've represented are IT professionals on H1B's and I'm glad that so many of them seized the opportunity while it was still available to them," says Canadian immigration Attorney David Cohen.  "Though this option is now closed for IT professionals, there may be several other Canadian immigration options still available to them."

IT workers with North American experience are highly sought-after candidates for immigration to Canada, says Cohen.  They may still be able to qualify for Canadian immigration through the Federal Skilled Worker category or through another Provincial Nomination Program.

"And because their applications can be processed at Canadian immigration visa offices in the United States, they will likely be processed just as quickly as AINP applicants anyway."

This is yet another example, says Cohen, of how government immigration officials can make changes at their discretion with little or no warning and why qualified applicants should not delay in the submission of their Canadian immigration applications.

Do you qualify for Canadian immigration under current regulations?

* includes H1B, H1B1, H1C, and E3.

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