Last week, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced significant changes to the popular Canadian Experience Class (CEC) of immigration. Most importantly, an intake cap of 12,000 applications has been instituted for the upcoming year. The cap is effective from November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014.
The CEC is a popular immigration path for individuals who are already living and working in Canada. The changes made to the CEC will help ensure that the program, which currently sees processing times of about a year, will avoid backlogs and uphold its fast timeframe for processing. In addition, the changes will allow the program to further target the workers that Canada most needs to succeed in today’s competitive economy.
What is the CEC?
Since its creation in 2008, the CEC has welcomed over 25,000 new permanent residents. These individuals already posses Canadian experience, and therefore can continue to directly contribute to the country’s economy after receiving Canadian Permanent Residency. In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- Have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience (or an equal amount in part-time)* in the past three years before applying;
- Plan to live outside of the Province of Quebec;
- Have gained the Canadian work experience legally; and
- Meet minimum language requirements
The structure of this program makes it ideal for international graduates of Canadian institutions who remain in Canada on post-graduation work permits, as well as temporary foreign workers in general.
*Some restrictions have been placed on this eligibility criterion. Details follow.
Caps and Occupation Restrictions
The overall intake cap of 12,000 applications came into effect last Saturday, November 9. All applications that are received on or after that date will be subject to this cap, as well as the other changes outlined in this article.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) noticed that a disproportionate number of CEC applications fell into a very limited number of occupations. In an effort to maintain a more equal representation of occupations, the following 6 are no longer eligible for the CEC:
- Food Service Supervisors
- Administrative Officers
- Administrative Assistants
- Accounting Technicians and Bookkeepers
- Retail Sales Supervisors
Applicants with experience in one of the above occupations, who submitted to the CEC prior to November 9, 2013, will still be processed.
To further ensure an even distribution of occupations, no more than 200 applications will be accepted from any occupations designated as ‘B’ level in Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) index. B level jobs are generally technical, administrative, or skilled trades. NOC levels ‘A’ and ‘0’, which are managerial and professional in nature, are not subject to the individual 200 cap, although they are subject to the overall cap of 12,000.
To increase fairness and efficiency, applications to the CEC will have their proof of language proficiency assessed upon receipt of their file. This means that if an application does not meet language requirements, it will be immediately returned to the sender with a refund in processing fees. This will help government officers quickly return files that are not eligible, therefore giving applicants ample time to consider other options for permanent residency.
What this Means for Applicants
The CEC remains a highly popular program due to its straightforward application procedures and fast processing times. These changes have been made to make sure that the program keeps its reputation as an ideal option for temporary foreign workers from a variety of backgrounds.
However, the introduction of caps has may increase pressure on eligible individuals who have not yet submitted their applications.
“We have seen the CEC grow in popularity every year,” said Immigration Attorney David Cohen. “There is no way of knowing how many potential applicants have now begun to prepare and submit applications before caps close. If an individual is genuinely interested in immigrating through this program, he or she would be well advised to send in their application as soon as possible. As well, getting it right the first time will be important because a returned application may result in an applicant being capped out.”
To find out if you are eligible for the Canadian Experience Class, or one of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment.