Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canada announces proposals for skilled immigration reform

Jason Kenney, the Canadian minister responsible for immigration, announced a series of reforms to the Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) on 17th August 2012. Mr Kenney said that he hoped that the changes would enable skilled immigrants to 'hit the ground running'.

The FSWP enables applicants to progress towards permanent residence in Canada. Applicants are assessed on a points 'grid' that measures their 'overall capacity to adapt to Canada's labour market.' The grid measures factors including education, work experience and knowledge of English or French.
Mr Kenney said that his department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), had accumulated 'a large body of data and evidence over the years showing what skills and qualifications are most likely to lead to success for skilled immigrants.' After assessing the evidence, CIC proposes the following changes to the program.

• Making language the most important selection factor. The minister proposes introducing minimum language fluency thresholds and increasing the number of points awarded for linguistic ability.
• Skewing the system in favour of younger immigrants. Younger immigrants are more likely to 'gain valuable Canadian experience' and will remain in the workforce for longer.
• Increasing points for Canadian work experience and reducing the points awarded for foreign work experience.
• Simplifying the arranged employment process. It is hoped that this will prevent fraud and, at the same time, enable employers to fill vacancies quickly.
• Awarding points for spousal language ability and Canadian experience.

CIC also proposes introducing the Educational Credential Assessment scheme (ECA). This scheme is designed to ensure that immigrants with foreign qualifications are properly trained to work in their chosen field. The ECA will require that, where an applicant under the FSWP has acquired educational credentials abroad, those qualifications should be reviewed by a designated organisation and compared to their Canadian equivalent. After the comparison is made, points will be awarded to applicants who may, or may not, then be licensed to practice in a regulated occupation. CIC has issued a Call for Service Proposals today, 20th August 2012, inviting applications from organisations wishing to conduct the reviews of qualifications. These proposals must be submitted by September 21st 2012. The new arrangements are expected to come into force in January 2013.

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