Thousands of temporary foreign workers in low-skill jobs who have been in Canada for over four years will have to leave from April 1, when the first possible four-year limit on their stay comes into effect since its introduction in 2011.
Under the old rules, temporary foreign workers (TFWs) were allowed to re-apply and continue working with their existing Canadian employers. But ever since the 2011 rule change the clock has been ticking down on TFWs, with a four-year cumulative duration limit imposed on their work permits. Moreover once the workers leave Canada, they will not be allowed back in as a TFW for an additional four years.
The rule has been especially harsh on TFWs who have been in Canada for over 15 years in some instances but are now being made to leave their homes and jobs in Canada.
A rush of TFWs leaving Canada is around the corner, employers and lawyers predict, with the fishing and agricultural industries set to be the most adversely affected.
The $900-million Canadian mushroom industry is one such sector where TFWs are doing jobs which Canadian citizens are unable or unwilling to do.
“Frankly, it’s a crisis with us because we’re losing workers who don’t want to leave, who have proven themselves to be valuable, and deserve an opportunity to apply for citizenship,” says Bill Stevens, the CEO of Mushroom Canada.
Stevens is calling for a reprieve, saying the industry will face substantial decreases in production if it isn’t granted.
“The whole thing amounts to a major decrease in the production of our commodity, and they’re going to suffer from it, they’re going to lose markets, and especially now when the markets are really very strong,” Stevens said.
Stevens is urging for a rethink and is calling for low skill temporary foreign workers to be given a way to obtain permanent residency, similar to the one on offer in Alberta, which was allowed a special transitional scheme where some TFWs are being given more time to become permanent residents.
The transitional measure in Alberta offers a reprieve to some TFWs as they wait for their permanent residence applications to be processed, according to Employment Minister Jason Kenney.
Immigration experts say the majority of TFWs work in fisheries, farms and restaurants, jobs that Canadians don’t want, as indicated by the high turnover of Canadian employees in those kinds of jobs. They argue that higher wages are not the solution and that the presence of TFWs increases productivity at the businesses and benefits the economy overall by creating spinoff jobs.
Thousands of petitioners will be protesting on Parliament Hill on March 1, urging the government for an audit of Citizenship and Immigration Canada which has a backlog of about 10,000 spousal immigration applications.
Petitioners say the long delays are putting their lives on hold, as they have to wait while being unemployed and with no access to health care.
Under the spousal sponsorship program, an application for permanent residency has to go through two phases. In the first phase, the average waiting time can be up to 17 months, while the second phase where medical and background checks are done can take another eight months. CIC has also been criticized for increasing the processing times, which used to be better earlier, and not making an effort to clearly communicate the procedures to the candidates. “CIC change their procedures so frequently that backlogs can appear and disappear out no where. It makes it very difficult to advise people,” says an immigration practitioner.
Last month, CIC launched a pilot project, providing work permits to certain applicants so they could work temporarily during the waiting period. Eduardo has applied for this but has not yet heard back from the immigration department.
The Express Entry program offers another option to spouses in waiting, who can use it to apply for permanent residency, especially if they have an existing job offer. The processing time under Express Entry is under six months and may prove to be a more viable option for certain applicants. However, not all petitioners find this a suitable alternative, with one saying that spouses must not change their immigration status as “most inland families have waited for so long, it makes no sense to scrap spousal sponsorship and try to legalize status as skilled workers.”
According to several experts, Canada’s new permanent residence application system will discourage top-level professionals and other highly skilled workers from coming to this country unless changes are made soon.
The new Express Entry program, which came into effect on January 1, combines together workers wishing to apply for permanent residency in Canada. They submit an application and are awarded points based on various criteria, and those with the top scores are then invited to apply for permanent residency.
The problem with the new system, experts say, is that it fails to take into consideration foreign workers who are already in this country on temporary work permits and visas. And one of the criteria worth the most points in the system makes it difficult, if not impossible, for top executives and other high-skilled workers to fulfill.
Under the program, a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) is worth 600 of 1,200 available points. An employer must apply for an LMIA before hiring a foreign worker, to show that the foreign worker is needed to fill a job opening because a Canadian can’t be found to fill the post.
The other 600 points in the system are awarded based on an applicant’s personal characteristics, including age, language skills, education, work experience and marital status. This means that anyone who has an LMIA starts at 600 points, and collects more based on their personal characteristics. An applicant without an LMIA can only get a maximum of 600 points based on education, language, work and personal information.
Others who are affected by the policy are workers who came to Canada under LMIA-exempt categories, including those with a NAFTA permit, a clergy visa, or others who are considered a significant benefit for Canada. While some work permits are renewable, others are only in effect for a specific period of time.
A recent online petition calls on Citizenship and Immigration Canada to allow workers to extend their post-graduate work permits and award points for the work experience accrued by applicants in that category. It also calls on the department to eliminate the LMIA requirement for those on post-graduate work permits, or at least make it easier for employers to apply for them.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada counters that, in fact, Express Entry does take into account the education and work experience that international students have acquired while in Canada, particularly from open work permits.
The main problem with the new system is that top-tier workers, who have been in this country for a few years, are making good money and paying taxes, are being put into the same pool as someone who just graduated from university or who is still abroad hoping to come to Canada to work at a trade.
Some say that CIC should relax its rules for highly skilled workers, and make it more difficult for workers outside of Canada who do not have Canadian experience. The process by which an employer obtains an LMIA should also be overhauled,
The department, however, says that at the moment, the Express Entry program identifies and invites only the top-ranked candidates from the pool. This means that the Express Entry system ensures that only the candidates who are most likely to succeed, and not simply the quickest in submitting their application, are able to apply to immigrate to Canada.
Recent changes to Canada’s immigration regulations that came into effect on January 1st, 2015 have placed international graduates from Canadian universities at a disadvantage. Many were seeking to qualify for Canadian permanent residence. In the past, foreign students with work experience in Canada enjoyed an advantage over other applicants when seeking permanent residence. The new rules will also make it tougher for Canadian universities to recruit foreign students. The open system of residence after graduation was one of the factors that attracted 200,000 foreign students to postsecondary institutions in Canada in 2014.
Under the new rules, foreign students who hold a degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions will be treated on par with other groups of skilled workers. All economic class candidates will form part of the pool from which Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue invitations offering permanent residence. In the past, students were not required to compete with other groups of skilled workers when seeking permanent residence.
The Express Entry Pool, which forms the core aspect of the Express Entry system, has been established to reduce application times, and to facilitate improved connections between Canadian employers and employees intending to apply for permanent residence.
Invitations are issued on the basis of a ranking system based on the number of points earned by an aspiring immigrant. The maximum score is 1200 points. A Labor Market Impact Assessment which indicates the absence of a Canadian worker available for the position will enable the applicant to score 600 additional points. Other factors like education and age count for 600 points. The first two cohorts invited by the Ministry to apply for permanent residence had a cutoff of 800 points. Since students don’t qualify for a LMIA, they cannot avail the 600 points.
Students are likely to be hurt the most by the new system as those with very little work experience will find it difficult to prove that there is no native Canadian who can perform the task in question.
While students can seek permanent residence through Provincial Nominee Programs, tens of thousands of students who have entered through the Federal program cannot get transferred to provinces without complicated negotiations.
Provincial programs accord higher priority to permanent residence applications made by international students holding credentials from a Canadian postsecondary institution along with professional work experience. Ontario’s 2500 spots under its PNP are filled primarily by international students.
The Express Entry Immigration system, announced in detail in early December, is expected to have a very negative effect on those students who had planned on relying on favourable policies designed to help post-graduate students obtain permanent residence. These policies had been framed on the basis of findings that indicated that such students were most likely to adapt to life in Canada.
Many recent graduates sought to bypass the new rules by submitting their applications early. In December, the CIC had indicated that thousands of spots under the old regulations were still available. However, many fall graduate applicants learned that their applications were rejected on the ground that the quotas for Canadian Experience Class, the category under which they previously qualified, had been reached in October 2014. Now, these students are required to apply under the new regulations. Most will unlikely qualify unless they can meet provincial nomination programs.
Interestingly, many students who were hopeful of applying under the old rules were devastated to learn that the authorities had committed a mistake by indicating the availability of thousands of spots under the old rules. With students spending in excess of $100,000 towards their education in Canada, the premise under which they made such decisions has been vacated.
There are hopes that criticism of the functioning of the Express Entry system may result in changes that could include a reduction in the score required for a graduate student to be invited to apply for permanent residence. Until then those who had opted for Canada over the US or the UK due to the relatively ease to acquire Canadian residence, will have to just wait and watch. Canadian education institutions will likely share in this process.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Canadian immigration policy analysts have worked closely with the education industry to build Canada’s international reputation. It is clear that the Immigration Ministry is causing substantial harm to the industry with the new Express Entry regime.
British Columbia launched its express entry immigration system aimed at fast tracking the process of bringing in foreign employees with needed skills.
To be eligible applicants need to be a skilled worker with a university degree or diploma as well as have substantial work experience. With the exception of the international post graduates, a sponsor employer offering a permanent full-time job offer is required.
In order to apply an applicant must first submit an application through the federal Express Entry program and indicate an intention to settle in British Columbia.
The British Columbia Express Entry option to British Columbia offers the following four categories through which potential applicants can enter Canada:
- International post graduates: Under this category, applications can be made by candidates holding a doctorate or Master’s degree awarded in the two years prior to the date of application. The degree must be in natural, applied or health sciences from an eligible program at designated post-secondary institutions in B.C.
- International graduates: This category allows applications from those who hold a diploma, degree, or certificate from a recognized post-secondary Canadian institution. The requisite diplomas or certificates must be from public post-secondary institutions only.
- Skilled workers: Those qualified under specific occupations in trade, management and other professions. The applicant must also hold a university degree or professional diploma.
- Health care professionals: Under this stream, registered nurses, doctors, specialists, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals including pharmacists, physiotherapists and lab technicians can apply.
Except for the international post graduates, all other streams require candidates to also have a full-time permanent job offer and adequate salary that will ensure the economic self-sufficiency of the candidate in the province.
Only skilled workers holding a high standard qualification in terms of a university degree or trade school diploma combined with significant work experience will be considered under British Columbia’s Express Entry program. The program is not for foreign workers looking to enter Canada under the low-skilled stream or under a temporary work arrangement.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has increased the quota for B.C.’s provincial nominee allocation from 4,150 to 5,500 this year, thus bringing the province on par with the western provinces, which have generally received a higher number of provincial nominee allocations during the past few years.
Successful applicants approved under express entry will receive Canadian permanent residence. CIC has promised to process all express entry applications within a time period of six months.
Fill out a questionnaire, write a flattering description of yourself, post a profile and hope someone notices you. This is not the next big thing in online dating, but the way Canada will select its skilled workers starting Jan. 1.
Gone will be the days of long queues, when officials processed applications in the order received, leading to backlogs of a year or longer. New applications will be entered into a pool from which employers and provinces can select candidates, who are then invited by the government to apply for permanent residence. Most applications will be processed within six months, Citizenship and Immigration Canada says.
Below is an outline showing how the new system, called Express Entry, will work.
1. People who want to move to Canada as a skilled worker post a profile in the Express Entry pool. To do this they must meet the qualifications for either the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class or a Provincial Nominee program. If the person has not already been offered a job or been selected by a province, they will also be required to register with Canada’s job bank. Express Entry will not apply to short-term programs for low-skilled workers, such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
2. All candidates in the pool will be automatically assigned a numerical score and ranked based on their age, skills, education and experience. There will be two tiers of candidates in the pool: those who have a job offer or provincial nomination in hand, and those who do not.
3. The government will “draw” candidates from the pool roughly every two weeks based exclusively on numerical score. The cutoff will vary depending on the government’s immigration targets for skilled workers, but the lowest score to make the cutoff will be published each time. Those drawn from the pool will be invited to apply for permanent residence. Those who have job offers or who have been selected by a province will always be invited to apply. The first such draw will take place at the end of January.
Employers and provinces will be able to view profiles of job seekers though the Canada Job Bank or Express Entry. Employers will be required to first obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment from the government as an assurance that there are no qualified Canadians available to fill the vacancy.
Reaction from groups in B.C. who represent employers has been largely positive. Richard Truscott, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called Express Entry a “very positive development” but expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that it is only available for highly skilled workers.
Source: Vancouver Sun
Beginning January 1, 2015, the Province of Manitoba will be allocated 500 additional immigrants to nominate from the new Express Entry Pool of skilled workers who have expressed interest in immigrating to Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s “Express Entry” system, which intends to match the education and experience of people interested in immigrating with the qualifications needed by Canadian employers.
Manitoba’s Express Entry allocation is separate from and in addition to the allocation of 5,000 immigrants that Manitoba can nominate each year under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).
The MPNP nominee program is the main source of Manitoba’s immigration, making up 70 per cent of all newcomers to the province.
In April 2014, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced a new federal recruitment model for economic immigration dubbed Express Entry. Starting in January, it will be a “major step forward in the transformation of Canada’s immigration system into one that is fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada’s economic and labour needs,” the federal minister said.
Applicants are ranked using a point system age, education, experience, training and language skills. A qualifying job offer will provide extra points. Applicants with the highest scores will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence and will be processed within six months.
Approved employers will be able to select directly from the national Express Entry pool if they secure an approved labour market impact assessment from Service Canada. Workers in the Express Entry pool will make their qualifications directly available online to employers. Service Canada will provide employers with worker profiles but employers will not have direct access to the pool.
The new Express Entry Immigration system is expected to significantly reduce wait times for the bulk of Canada’s annual skilled workers.
Source: Manitoba Government
The Sweeter Side of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – How Foreign Workers Contribute to the Success of Prabu Sweets
Given the vast amount of negative publicity the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has received in recent times, it is easy to forget that the Program enjoys any popularity – or success – at all. Prabu Sweets, an East Indian sweets distribution company based in Surrey, British Columbia, shows how the Program has played a vital role in making the enterprise a sweet success.
Prabu Sweets began operations as a local retail outlet in 2001 with only two employees. In the intervening 13 years, the company has successfully generated such a high demand for its food products that it is currently in the process of expanding the business globally.
The company requires skilled workers and hence, the managers travelled to India and Dubai in March, for interviewing skilled head chefs, who have a complete mastery over their area of expertise. The managers ended up selecting two individuals, who would work as heads of production at their East Indian food manufacturing facility.
Things seemed hunky-dory until the implementation of the recent ban on restaurants from hiring temporary foreign workers upset the applecart. The ban has not only ended up wasting a considerable amount of time, effort and money, it has also jeopardised the future and livelihood of the company and its employees – 20 of whom are Canadian citizens.
Many people assume that temporary foreign workers are low-skilled employees, who work for minimum wages. At Prabu Sweets however, these temporary foreign workers are the force behind the company’s success. Their skills, knowledge and expertise in the East Indian food industry makes them perfect for the job – something that no one can replace easily. This is why the company treats them as vital assets and helps them establish themselves as integral parts of the Canadian society.
Significantly, no Canadian can possess these skills unless they have acquired them from the areas in which the company’s sweets and snacks originate. The managers at Prabu Sweets believe that these foreign workers actually create employment opportunities for several Canadian employees. In fact, they claim that in the near future, over 100 employees would be working under the supervision of these so-called “low-skilled disposable workers”.
Therefore, while numerous companies might be abusing the program, enforcing a ban is extremely unjust on companies like Prabu Sweets that work diligently and ethically. This ban places a question mark not only on businesses that follow the law, but also Canadian employees, skilled temporary workers and their families too.
Source: The Huffington Post, British Columbia
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