During the Canadian government's 2012 Budget Speech, the minister of finance announced that in an effort to deal with the backlog of pending federal skilled worker cases, it would enact legislation to cancel all applications filed prior to February 27 2008. This is proposed legislation only, but it will be retroactive to March 29 2012; as a result, it should be treated as though it were already in force.

Under proposed legislation, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will close the files of federal skilled worker applicants who applied before February 27 2008, and for whom an immigration officer had not already made a decision based on the applicable selection criteria by March 29 2012. This proposed legislation is expected to affect about 280,000 applicants, including their dependants.

The CIC will begin the process of returning the full amount of fees previously paid by these affected applicants, which could amount to $130 million. For those who had already passed the selection criteria stage as of March 29 2012 (approximately 20,000 people), the CIC will continue processing their applications.

Several provincial nominee programmes are currently reviewing the backlog of pending federal skilled worker applications to determine whether any might be suitable for provincial nominee programme nomination. For example, Opportunities Ontario has established a Federal Skilled Worker Pilot Programme to accommodate these potential nominees.

Under the Ontario pilot programme, federal skilled worker applicants who fall under one of the following five occupations will have an opportunity to apply for an Ontario nomination leading to permanent residence:

  • computer analysts and consultants (NOC 2171);
  • software developers (NOC 2173);
  • interactive media programmers and developers (NOC 2174);
  • financial and investment analysts (NOC 1112); and
  • mathematicians (NOC 2161).

The CIC began contacting federal skilled worker applicants in these occupations in February 2012, inviting them to participate in the pilot programme. The closing date for the submission of applications to Opportunities Ontario was initially May 4 2012. However, on May 3 2012 Opportunities Ontario announced that the closing date for the pilot programme would be extended to May 31 2012.

Applicants who are not invited by a provincial nominee programme to seek a provincial nomination certificate have effectively lost their ability to immigrate to Canada based on their pending federal skilled worker application. However, they can consider filing a new application under another permanent residence category, if they qualify.

For further information on this topic please contact Henry J Chang at Blaney McMurtry LLP by telephone (+1 416 593 1221), fax (+1 416 593 5437) or email (hchang@blaney.com).