• Immigration Agency Announces New Skilled Trades Class, New Criteria for Two Permanent Residence Programs
  • September 13, 2012
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced changes in the eligibility criteria for two of its permanent residence classes in an effort to select economic migrants with the greatest likelihood of successful integration into the labor market, and tradespeople with job offers in designated occupational areas who do not currently qualify for the skilled worker class will be eligible to apply to a new skilled trades class. The government will also reduce the Canadian work experience required for temporary workers to transition to permanent residence. The changes will be implemented on January 1, 2013.

    Changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Class

    The Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) is a permanent residence program under which applicants must earn points based on factors such as their language skills, education, work experience, and personal and family situations. Beginning January 1, 2013, FSWC applicants will be subject to the following new criteria:

    • Language Requirements - Beginning in 2013, FSWC applicants will need to possess a minimum level of language proficiency - described as “adequate intermediate proficiency” - in English or French in order to qualify for the program. They will no longer be able to compensate for a lack of language proficiency with other credentials. Additionally, the maximum number of points awarded to applicants who are fluent in one of the official languages will increase, giving those candidates a greater advantage than they currently have based on their language skills. The number of points for proficiency in a second official language will be reduced under the new program.

    • Age Considerations - FSWC applicants aged 18 to 35 years old will receive the maximum number of points for their age under the revised system. The highest number of points for age is currently awarded to 21- to 49-year-olds. No age points will be awarded for applicants over age 46, although workers aged 47 or older will still be eligible for the program.

    • Educational Credentials - Under the proposed changes, education credentials earned abroad by FSWC applicants will be assessed by professional bodies and other organizations to determine their authenticity and comparability to equivalent credentials in Canada. Applicants will be awarded education points based on the relevance of their credentials in the Canadian labor market. This assessment could lead to increased FSWC application processing times.

    • Adaptability - Candidates for the FSWC will be eligible for a greater number of points for having previous work experience in Canada based on the new selection criteria. However, work experience gained outside of Canada will carry less weight. The maximum number of points awarded for work experience abroad will be reduced and more years of experience will be required to earn that maximum. Secondary school studies in Canada, which are not currently considered under the FSWC, will garner points under the revised program.

      Points currently awarded for a spouse’s educational experience in Canada will be reallocated to benefit applicants whose spouses have basic language proficiency. No points will apply for spouses who are Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents.

    • Labor Market Opinion Requirement - Employers will be required to obtain a positive Labor Market Opinion (“LMO”) in support of applications submitted under the revised FSWC. This requirement is designed to discourage fraudulent job offers and meet broader Canadian labor market objectives. Employers with strong LMO compliance records may become eligible for accelerated LMO processing in the future. Additionally, some exceptions to the LMO requirements will apply based on international agreements such as NAFTA and GATS. In these cases, employers will need to prove to the CIC that any job offer they make to a foreign national is genuine.

    Applicants who may not meet the more stringent FSWC criteria described above are advised to submit their applications to the Immigration Department before the changes take effect.

    New Federal Skilled Trades Class

    A new permanent residence program for skilled tradespeople who are not eligible for the FSWC will be open to foreign nationals with experience in the following occupational areas: Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades; Maintenance and Equipment Operation Trades; Supervisors and Technical Occupations in Natural Resources, Agriculture and Related Production; Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities Supervisors and Central Control Operators; and Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Butchers. Applicants to the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) will need to have job offers in Canada, proficiency in an official language, at least two years of experience in the relevant trade, and all other applicable qualifications for the proposed position.

    For some regulated, or “compulsory,” trades, employers will be required to support candidates in obtaining a Certificate of Qualification in their province/territory, or register them as apprentices during a qualification assessment period until they are certified and, therefore, eligible to apply under the FSTC.

    Changes to the Canadian Experience Class

    The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is a permanent residence program open to those with professional and/or educational experience in Canada. Under the new regulations, foreign nationals who have spent 12 of the 36 months preceding the application filing date in work authorized status in Canada will be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the CEC. The current requirement is 24 months.

    Applicants who are in the process of preparing applications for submission under the FSWC, and who would qualify for the CEC based on the new criteria, may consider changing category from FSWC to CEC. Processing times are shorter for the CEC than they are for the FSWC, and the selection criteria are more flexible. It is anticipated, though, that candidates will require a minimum level of language proficiency in English or French in order to qualify for this class.

    The new criteria for the FSWC, the FSTC and the CEC were designed based on recent research, program evaluations and consultation with stakeholders in Canada regarding the factors that most often lead to success for economic immigrants in Canada. The CIC also took into consideration best practices in other countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.