Sunday, 14 July 2024 17:29

Canada changes immigration rules to fast-track skilled workers

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Canadian federal government is revamping its immigration system, with a new fast-track computerised programme taking effect from January 1.

And the new Express Entry system means that for those whose skills and professional experience are in demand, there’s a quicker application process and a faster answer — hopefully avoiding the delays that plagued the previous immigration system. That old system was based on a “first come, first served” basis. Now, under Express Entry, skills and experience fast track applications.

The idea is that Ottawa will have more discretionary power to decide who gets permanent residency in Canada — giving priority to desirable economic immigrants and allowing the federal government to match highly skilled foreigners to prospective employers.

The new system is the result of several overhauls by Ottawa to be more flexible in picking new immigrants and making sure that those who actually do make it through the process — which will be quicker — will be of more benefit to the Canadian economy.

Last year, roughly 250,000 immigrants were admitted to Canada. In 2015, that figure is being revised upwards to 285,000. Another 68 are expected to enter through a separate multi-generational caregiver programme.

Under Express Entry, applicants ranked highest under a revised points system are most likely to be invited to apply for permanent residency. Permanent residency allows immigrants to live and work freely and is the first step to obtaining Canadian citizenship.

Unlike the old system where applications could drag on for years, Ottawa is promising that Express Entry will give answers within six months — and potentially within 60 days depending on applicants’ skill sets.

Foreign nationals accepted into the Express Entry pool will register with the same federal job bank that is used by other Canadians and permanent residents to find work. However, immigrant applicants can only be matched to jobs for which no Canadian workers can be found.

Companies will also be able to search the job bank pool but will also rely on the federal government to offer them potential matches from the immigrant application pool.

Under the new system, getting a job offer awards up to 1,200 points — a big step up on the ladder with some 2,000 point assuring entry. Other points are awarded for “human capital factors” that include education, work experience and age factors.

“The system will be utilised to match Canadians with available jobs, and if no Canadian is available, the system will match jobs to candidates under Express Entry,” Simon Rivet with Employment and Social Development Canada said. “Full implementation is expected later in spring 2015, when employers will be able to connect directly with potential employees who possess the skills they need.”

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s department said those with jobs offers or nominations from provinces will be picked first. The first draw from the Express Entry pool of applicants will be held in late January.

Ottawa will be able to draw applicants from this pool and invite them to apply for permanent residency as needs arise for workers in various labour markets across Canada.

The government will also be able to quickly shift priorities for intake of immigrants when needed, says Sarah Anson-Cartwright, director of skills policy with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The government at any point can make adjustments and decide, ‘We’re more keen on higher-language proficiency at this point, let’s ratchet that up,’” she said.

Anson-Cartwright said her business group is pleased with the “central role that employers can have in the selection process” of skilled immigrants.


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