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The Evolution of the Federal Skilled Worker Program

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Many prospective immigrants around the world were excited to learn that Canada’s popular Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program reopened on May 1, 2014. Moreover, the program is open to a full 50 eligible occupations, with an overall intake cap of 25,000 applications.

The excitement for the program’s reopening has been reinforced by the fact that this is the last time for applicants to apply to the FSW program in its current form. Starting in 2015, a new immigration intake system, called the Express Entry system, will be put in place to pre-select applicants for various immigration programs, including the FSW.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program through the Years

The FSW program is one of Canada’s most established and popular immigration programs. In recent years, it has undergone a series of transformations, as Canada continuously works to bring its immigration programs in line with its evolving economic needs.

The most recent era of FSW transformation can be traced back to 2008. It was at this time that the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister began to issue Ministerial Instructions to change program criteria. Ministerial Instructions allow the Immigration Minister to issue special instructions to visa officers, which in the words of Citizenship and Immigration Canada “enable the Government of Canada to better attain its immigration goals”. These instructions are allowed as part of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which was adopted in 2002.

Ministerial Instructions for the Federal Skilled Worker Program

Ministerial Instructions are usually put into place for a limited period of time. They have been issued for a number of immigration programs. However, perhaps nowhere has their impact been felt as strongly as in the FSW program.

Below is a brief timeline of important instructions issued for the program, as well as the rules that were put into place:

Applying Under the Federal Skilled Worker Today

As the above chart demonstrates, current FSW program has set a higher cap on the number of applications than any cycle since 2008. For many applicants, who may have been ineligible in previous years, this is very good news.

Ministerial Instructions can be issued at any time, and immigration programs have been known to change with little to no prior notice. However, the FSW program has seen instructions issued at roughly one-year intervals.

“When it comes to Canadian immigration, the only real constant is change,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Throughout the years, one thing remains true. And that is that successful immigrants are proactive and submit their applications as soon as possible, before another change comes down the line.”

To find out if you are eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, or any of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.