The Federal Skilled Worker Program currently remains the single most important stream of immigration to Canada within the Economic Class. Yet it is widely believed by many stakeholders in the immigration industry, that the integrity and the success of the Economic Class is being compromised by the excessively long waiting times caused by the backlog of applicants undergoing processing at Canada’s missions abroad. Long processing delays leads many applicants to eventually abandon their projects to Canada as they pursue other avenues. And who could blame them from exploring other opportunities or destinations? A decision to relocate is often taken to enhance one’s economic prospects. Having to wait many years to become a Canadian permanent resident clearly does not provide viable economic advancement. Time is money.
CIC, though, still processes these applications. But once approved many who qualify and are approved for admission to Canada ultimately elect to forego their opportunity to come to Canada and work. Long processing delays in CIC’s immigration programs has become its worst nemesis.
Immigration policy makers have been trying for years to address this problem. And it seems that they have finally come up with a viable solution, albeit not the solution that pending overseas’ applicants have been anticipating. A new category will soon be created that will provide persons working or studying in Canada with quick access to Canadian permanent residence. The Canadian Experience Class, (CEC), will allow certain highly skilled temporary workers and international students, already living in Canda to remain in Canada while they apply for permanent residence without having to file their applications abroad.
A look at the graph below shows how the proposed numbers under the Canadian Experience class could look in relation to the overall numbers of the planned annual admissions to Canada.
|Federal Skilled Workers|
|Quebec Selected Skilled Workers|
|Canadian Experience Class|
With the creation of the Canadian Experience Class, the total number of permanent residents admitted to Canada is not expected to increase. Instead, resources will be shifted from the processing of applications at missions abroad, towards processing applications under the new CEC class. In fact, projections from CIC show that there will be approximately 15% less Federal Skilled Workers admitted. This decrease will represent approximately the total number of permanent residences that will be admitted to Canada under the Canadian Experience Class. Instead of pouring added resources to process more visas overseas, policymakers are hoping to address the long processing delays inherent in the federal skilled worker program by allocating resources to a new class of persons who are already living in Canada and therefore have what many believe to be the best chances of economic success.
Processing applications in-land has many advantages. For one, every application processed to conclusion will represent a new permanent resident already living in Canada. Clearly, it will represent a strategic use of resources geared to retaining the growing numbers of foreigners who currently live and work in Canada, and who have already adapted to Canadian life.
And if the potential of this new program is properly addressed, it will also remove the ongoing requirement to apply for visa extensions for students or workers on temporary status or the need to comply with the labour market opinion renewal process, which is also experiencing impractical and increasing processing delays throughout Western Canada.
Many in the immigration industry believe that targeting a growing pool of temporary permit holders is a policy that CIC is likely to vigorously pursue in the future. According to the Minister’s own statement, the program represents a key element to Canada’s long term immigration plan.
And it makes perfect sense as the numbers of temporary work permit holders living in Canada has steadily increased during the past five years fuelled by the economic boom, labour market growth and 35-year lows in the Canadian unemployment rate. Additionally, the number of student permit holders has also steadily increased during the same period.
The program contains the following elements:
- The program is limited to those who have legally entered Canada. Undocumented workers and those without continued legal status will not have access to the program.
- It is limited to those candidates with work experience defined by the National Occupational Classification NOC Levels of 0, A and B.
- The selection criteria is based on an assessment of an applicant’s successful labour market integration. Criteria includes a mix of Canadian educational credentials, work experience in Canada and language proficiency in either of Canada’s official languages.
- valid status in Canada is required at the time of an application
- at least a moderate language proficiency in one of Canada’s two official languages documented by IELTS and/or TEF, is also required
- no proof of funds is required
- for recent graduates at Canadian post-secondary institutions, they must have completed at least 2 years of post-secondary study program at the institution qualifying for post-graduate work permit and at least 12 months of work experience in Canada acquired after graduation (but within 2 years prior to CEC application) and exclusively in NOC Skill Levels 0, A or B.
- for work permit holders – at least secondary school diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship required plus 2 years of full time work experience in Canada in skills level 0, A or B acquired within 3 years prior to CEC application.
Although it is too early to assess the program’s success since its inception in September 2008, from a preliminary assessment, it seems that this new class could provide a strategic solution to the long processing delays that currently plague the Economic Class of immigration to Canada.