While the big immigration news in 2008 centred around the changes that were made to the Federal Skilled Worker program, no single immigration category drew as much attention in 2009. The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program and Quebec’s immigration program came close, however. Our look back at the major changes in these Canadian immigration categories over the past year highlights the fact that regulations, programs and procedures are constantly evolving to fit Canada’s needs, and that anyone who qualifies for a Canadian immigration program today should apply now, while the regulations favour them. Nobody knows what it will take to qualify in a year from now and changes occur without any warning.
Quebec Immigration – Skilled Worker and Quebec Experience Class
The province of Quebec made changes to its Skilled Worker program in October, 2009 which made it easier for many people to qualify. The overall selection pass mark was lowered, and points awarded for an applicants’ age and education were weighted more favourably than before. Quebec expects to welcome a greater number of immigrants to the province as a result of these changes.
Over the summer, the Quebec Immigration Minister announced the creation of the Programme d’expérience québécoise, or Quebec Experience Class, a fast-track immigration category for international students and temporary foreign workers in the province. The program is expected to come into effect in early 2010.
Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) – US Visa Holders Category
In January, 2009 Alberta announced it was streamlining the application process for the popular US Visa Holders Category of its Strategic Recruitment Stream. At that time, the US Visa Holders Category was the only one in that stream, but a month later two other categories were added to better respond to Alberta’s economic needs: the Engineering Occupations Category and the Compulsory Trades Category.
In May, 2009 eight information technology occupations were taken off the list of qualifying occupations for the US Visa Holders Category, and by September there were no more information technology occupations left on the list of qualifying occupations for Alberta. Fortunately, the Federal Skilled Worker program still remains an option for many Computer and Information Systems Managers. It is nonetheless important to keep in mind that the the qualifying occupations for the Federal Skilled Worker program may also change at any time, and eligible candidates would be wise to submit their applications as soon as possible.