The Race is On – New Parameters for the Federal Skilled Worker Program

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On May 1, 2014, significant changes will take effect for Canadian government’s Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades Programs, and to the Canadian Experience Class. These changes provide great opportunities for those who have prepared complete applications. We will summarize the changes and what they might mean for you. The race is on to submit complete applications! Let’s start with the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program.

portrait of different professions focus on construction worker

FEDERAL SKILLED WORKERS

In the past, you usually needed a Job Offer from a Canadian employer to be eligible to apply under the FSW. If you didn’t have a job offer, there were 24 “open” occupations, and if you had at least 1 year experience in one of these, you could also apply: but there was a cap of 300 spots per occupation.

The new FSW Program has 50 eligible occupations, with a maximum of 1,000 spots per occupation! Click here for a complete list of the eligible occupations effective May 1, 2014.

Competition to beat the cap is anticipated to be fierce and this is opportunity should not be missed!  This is also the last opportunity to submit an immigration application before the new expression of interest program is introduced next year.

It is critical to start the application process as early as possible.  It takes much time and careful preparation to ensure that your application is ready, as well as language testing, Police clearances and other steps.

Work Starts NOW!

If you would like to see if you qualify under the FSW Program, please contact our offices to arrange a one hour consultation. We will examine your background, assess your case, then advise you of your options. Depending on your background, you may qualify for more than one immigration program or immigration stream, so even if the cap on your FSW occupation is reached, you may be able to qualify for another.

If you would like to arrange a consultation, please email us at info@canadavisalaw.com .


5 Things You May Not Have Known About The Canadian Experience Class

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The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) has become a prominent and important program for foreign nationals wanting to immigrate to Canada. In the 2014 Immigration Levels Plan, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) target is to accept 15,000 applicants for permanent residence under the CEC. This represents almost 10% of Economic immigrants, and more than 5% of the total number of immigrants for 2014.

Since 9 November 2013, CIC has imposed an annual cap of 12,000 applications, as well as sub-caps of 200 applications for each occupation classified as Skill Level B on the National Occupational Classification (NOC). Unfortunately, many would-be immigrants are unaware of some of the requirements of the program, leading to wasted time and money, and in some cases, a lost opportunity to immigrate to Canada.

Based on basic information gleaned from websites, including the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, most people know that you can apply for permanent residence under the CEC if:

  • You have at least one year of full-time (or the equivalent in part-time) Canadian work experience in a high-skilled occupation in the past three years; and
  • You have met the minimum language threshold in English or French.

However, here are 5 things that you may not have known about the CEC:

1.       Any period of employment during which you were engaged in full-time study does not count.

In other words, even if you were working with an Off-Campus Work Permit or a Co-Op Work Permit, that work does not count.

2.       Any period of self-employment or unauthorised work shall not count.

We have come across a number of people who were working as independent contractors on their Post-Graduation Work Permit thinking that they were on their way to being eligible for the CEC. Self-employment as an independent contractor does not count! As well, individuals who hold substantial ownership and/or exercise management control of a business for which they are also employed are generally considered to be self-employed.

3.       You must have performed the actions described in the Lead Statement, and a substantial number of the Main Duties (including all essential duties) of the occupation selected by you as set out in the NOC.

The “Lead Statement” is the one paragraph description found just below the 4-digit NOC coding for your occupation. For example:

Unit Group

4154 Professional occupations in religion

Ministers of religion conduct religious services, administer the rites of a religious faith or denomination, provide spiritual and moral guidance and perform other functions associated with the practice of a religion. Ministers of religion perform these duties in churches, synagogues, temples or other places of worship. They may also work in other institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons.

The “Main Duties” are listed very clearly in the NOC.

4.       Wage received is an indicator of level of work experience

Although the CEC requirements do not specify that you have to be paid prevailing wages during your work experience, the Federal Court of Canada has indicated that immigration officers are permitted to compare wages paid with prevailing wages as an indicator of whether you have performed the type of work indicated in the NOC selected.

5.       Full-time work means at least 30 hours a week

Work experience must be acquired over a period of at least one year; work in excess of 30 hours a week over a shorter period cannot compensate for any shorter overall period of experience.

However, there is still some uncertainty with CIC’s processing when there has been more than one year (52 weeks) of work, at less than 30 hours a week, but where 1,560 hours have been accumulated. This uncertainty may eventually be clarified by Parliament or by litigation, and we will update this post when the issue has been clarified.


Major Changes to make Labour Market Opinions More Difficult to Obtain

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Since Mr. Jason Kenney became Minister of Employment and Social Development in July 2013, immigration law practitioners have been anticipating dramatic changes in the Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) system administered by Service Canada.  Those changes were revealed today.

Highlights:

  • Processing fees are now in effect: $275 per position.  If you are a major employer with multiple positions in a single application, this could become quite costly.
  • New language restrictions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are now in effect.  The LMO application and recruitment advertisements must only indicate English or French as a job requirement; other language skills cannot be a requirement unless it is demonstrated to be essential to the job (ex: translators or language-specific tour guides).
  • Advertisement requirements will take more time and effort to meet as
    1. all advertisements must run for 4 weeks instead of 2 weeks;
    2. higher-skilled positions must be advertised in the national Job Bank/recognized provincial website, 1 method that covers a national scope, and 1 other method consistent with industry practices;
    3. lower-skilled positions must be advertised in the national Job Bank/recognized provincial website, and through 2 other methods.  The advertising efforts must demonstrate an attempt to recruit from under-represented social groups.

This change in advertisement criteria is the only requirement that is effective later: August 28, 2013.

  • Application Form Changes

 *Please note, there are some limited exceptions, mainly relating to agricultural workers and Live-in Caregivers.  Please speak to an immigration lawyer for how these general changes can affect you or your employees specifically.

Consequently, employers will need to pay more, spend more time waiting for a LMO and try harder to demonstrate that hiring a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market.  For employers, now is the time to reconsider your foreign worker plans, timelines, and long-term objectives.  Securing permanent resident status for your most valuable foreign employees will be increasingly important as the time and financial costs of LMOs increase.  Do not hesitate to contact Lowe & Company to discuss how these new changes will affect you or your business and how to overcome these hurdles today.