On August 17, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") announced that it would be overhauling Canada's economic immigration programs.

A summary of the programs being introduced or changed are:

- Federal Skilled Worker Class - rebalancing of the points among existing criteria, introducing mandatory language thresholds, requiring an educational credential assessment by a designated agency for most applicants, and abolishing the Arranged Employment Opinion process;

- Federal Skilled Trades Class - a new program which will facilitate the immigration of certain skilled tradespersons in Canada; and 

- Canadian Experience Class - reducing the work experience requirement and modifying the language requirements .


The revised programs are expected to be introduced on January 1, 2013.



The New Federal Skilled Worker Class

Under the new Federal Skilled Worker Class ("FSWC"), the six selection factors and the maximum number of points available for each factor will be as follows:
 
Selection Factors Current Point Scale New Point Scale
Factor 1: English / French Ability
Maximum 24 points
Maximum 28 points
Factor 2: Education
Maximum 25 points
Maximum 25 points
Factor 3: Experience
Maximum 21 points
Maximum 15 points
Factor 4: Age
Maximum 10 points
Maximum 12 points
Factor 5: Arranged employment
Maximum 10 points
Maximum 10 points
Factor 6: Adaptability Maximum
Maximum 10 points
Maximum 10 points
Total Maximum 100 points
Maximum 100 points
Maximum 100 points
Pass Mark
67 points
67 points




Factor 1: Ability in English and or French
 
The FSWC's language requirements are being completely re-done, and made much more stringent.  Previously, using applicants who submitted International English Language Testing System ("IELTS") results as an example, applicants were awarded points as follows:
 
Level Points (per ability) Test results for each ability (CLB ratings)
Speaking Listening Reading Writing
High First official language:4
6.5 - 9.0
7.5 - 9.0
6.5 - 9.0
6.5 -9.0
Moderate Second official language: 2
5.5 - 6.0
5.5 - 7.0
5.0 - 6.0
5.5 -6.0
Basic Either official language: 1
(maximum of 2)
4.0 - 5.0
4.5 - 5.0
3.5 - 4.5
4.0 -5.0
None 0
Less than 4.0
Less than 4.5
Less than 3.5
Less than 4.0

Note: CLB stands for Canadian Language Benchmarks

 
Under the new FSWC, the IELTS test score requirements to be eligible for points are much higher.  The points allocation system will initially be as follows:
 
Level Points (per ability) Test results for each ability (CLB ratings)
Speaking Listening Reading Writing
High First official language: 6 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0
High First official language: 5 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0
High First official language: 4 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0
High 0 Less than 7.0 Less than 7.0 Less than 7.0 Less than 7.0

 
Importantly, the FSWC will now contain a minimum language requirement.  Applicants who score less than 7.0 in any language indicator will be ineligible to apply to the program.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the "Minister") shall have the discretion to increase or decrease this minimum language threshold, as well as the points allocated for test results, to meet program processing objectives.

 
The maximum number of points available for the second official language is 4.  To be eligible for second official language points, applicants must score a minimum of 5.0 or above in all abilities.  Essentially, points for second language will only be available for applicants who are functionally bilingual.  

 
 
Factor 2: Education
 
Points for education are being rebalanced as follows: 
 
Current FSWC Point Scale New FSWC Point Scale
Education
Points
Education
Points
Master's or PhD (+17 years)
25
Doctoral
25
Two or more university degrees (+15 years)
22
Master's Level or Professional Degree
23
A three-year diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship (+15 years)
22
Two or more post-secondary credentials (one of which is >2 years)
22
A university degree of two years or more at the Bachelor's level (+14 years)
20
Three-year or longer post-secondary credential
21
A two-year diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship (+14 years)
20
Two-year post-secondary credential
19
A one-year university degree at the Bachelor's level (+13 years)
15
One-year post-secondary credential
15
A one-year diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship (+13 years)
15
 
A one year diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship (+12 years)
12
 
Secondary School
5
Secondary School
5
 
 
CIC is removing from applicants and immigration officers the often confusing responsibility of determining how a foreign credential should be compared to a Canadian one (previously done by comparing the number of years it took to achieve the credential). CIC is transferring this responsibility to designated organizatons.

Applicants with foreign credentials will be required to have a designated organizations authenticate and assess their credentials prior to applying for the FSWC.

Applicants whose credentials either do not exist in Canada or do not have a Canadian credential equivalent will not be eligible to apply to the FSWC.  

 
 
Factor 3: Experience
 
Under the new FSWC, points for experience in a skilled occupation will be allocated as follows: 
 
Experience Current Points Scale New Points Scale
1 year
15
9
2 years
17
11
3 years
19
13
4+ years
21
15
 
 
Prior to its recent suspension, the FSWC was limited to applicants with at least one year of experience in one of 29 eligible occupations. This limitation was implemented through Ministerial Instruction, and it is not clear whether the Ministerial Instruction will continue, or if it is being abolished. As such, it is not yet clear whether the FSWC will be reduced to experience in certain occupations.  
 

 
Factor 4: Age
 
Under the new FSWC, points for Age will be allocated as follows:
 
Age Factors
Current Points Scale New Points Scale
Age Points Age Points
16 or under 0 17 or under 0
17 2 18-35 12
18 4 36 11
19 6 37 10
20 8 38 9
21-49 10 39 8
50 8 40 7
51 6 41 6
52 4 42 5
53 2 43 4
54 and over 0 44 3
  45 2
46 1
47 and over 0
 

 
Factor 5: Arranged Employment
 
The Arranged Employment Opinion process is being eliminated. Instead, points for Arranged Employment will be available as follows: 
 
Points Arranged Employment Points




10

Applicant is a Temporary Foreign Worker ("TFW") in Canada pursuant to either a positive Labour Market Opinion ("LMO") or is authorized to work in Canada without a work permit, is working in a skilled position, and has been offered indefinite employment.

Applicant is a Temporary Foreign Worker working in Canada pursuant to an international agreement or an agreement between the federal government and the province(s), is working in a skilled position, and has been offered indefinite employment.

Applicant is not in Canada however an employer or an officer has obtained a positive LMO for the applicant.

 
 
CIC has indicated that switching from the Arranged Employment Opinion to the LMO will increase efficiency and reduce fraud. While it will certainly do the former, it is not yet clear why abandoning the AEO in favor of the LMO will reduce fraud. 
 
As well, it is unclear in the third scenario above whether the LMO only has to be valid at the time of application, or if a new LMO must be obtained prior to the permanent resident visa being issued. 

 
 
Factor 6: Adaptability
 
Points for adaptability are being rebalanced as follows:
 
Current FSWC Adaptability Points New FSWC Adaptability Points Scale
Education Points Education
Points
Spouse's partner's education.
3-5
Spouse's education.
0
Applicant or spouse has one year of full-time previous work in Canada.
5
Applicant has one year of full-time skilled previous work in Canada.
10
Possession of Arranged Employment Offer
5
Applicant has Arranged Employment points.
5
Any relatives in Canada who are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
5
Any relatives in Canada who are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and over the age of 18.
5
  Applicant has previous study of 2 or more years in Canada.
5
Applicant's spouse has previous study of 2 or more years in Canada.
5
Applicant's spouse scores 4 on all language abilities.
5
Applicant's spouse has previous work in a skilled position in Canada.
5
 
 
The maximum number of points available for adaptability continues to be 10. 
 

 
New Federal Skilled Trades Class
 
The new Federal Skilled Trades Class ("FSTC") will be open to individuals with experience in the following National Occupation Classification ("NOC") B 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;
- Chefs and Cooks; and
- Bakers and Butchers.

 
Applicants to the FSTC will be required to meet the following four minimum requirements:
 
1. Be working in Canada, or possess a LMO-supported offer of employment from up to two employers in Canada of at least one year duration, or possess a Certificate of Qualification from a provincial or territorial Apprenticeship Authority;
 
2. Meet the same minimum language threshold as required by the Federal Skilled Worker Program as specified above;
 
3. Have twenty-four months of work experience (after qualification/certification in the country where the work was performed, where applicable) in the same skilled trade as which they were applying under in the last five years; and
 
4. Have qualifications that satisfy employment requirements as described by the NOC, except for certification and licensing requirements.

 
 
Canadian Experience Class
 
The Canadian work experience requirement of the Canadian Experience Class ("CEC") is being reduced from 24 months to 12.  Applicants who have 12 months work experience in the 36 months preceding an application will now be eligible to apply to the program. Only applicants with NOC 0, A or B work experience will continue to qualify for the CEC.
 
As well, a minimum language threshold will be required in each of the four abilities for applicants to the CEC. As with the FSWC, the Minister shall have the authority to set the language threshold. Initially, it is anticipated that the threshold would be set at CLB/NCLC 7 for NOC 0 and A applicants and CLB/NCLC 5, or in each ability for NOC B applicants.
 
More information on the changes can be foundhere.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about these changes.


Article courtesy of Steven Meurrens, Canadian Immigration Lawyer based in Vancouver BC.
Contact details: Steven.Meurrens@larlee.com - 1-604-681-9887.



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