Winds of change keep blowing on Canadian immigration lands. In July 2012, we discussed several steps taken by the Federal government relating to the rules and processes applicable to temporary and permanent immigration applications. More changes have been announced in the recent months.  These changes aim to allow more foreigners into Canada to meet growing labour shortages.

New Bridging Open Work Permits for certain Permanent Residence (“PR”) applicants

Since December 15, 2012, foreign nationals currently in Canada with a valid work permit and a PR application in process in one of the Federal Economic Programs, are now eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit that will allow them to maintain their status and continue working in Canada until a final decision on their PR application is made.

This benefit was already in place for some foreign workers nominated under a Provincial Nominee Program and for applicants under one of the In-Canada Classes (such as Live-in Care Givers or Spouses and Common law partners of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident). In June 2012, it was extended to applicants destined for Québec and holding a Québec selection certificate.

With this recent change, all applicants can now benefit for this Open Work Permit allowing them to work for any employer in Canada and exempting their Canadian employer from the standard Labour Market Opinion process. Such permits will be valid for a period of one year, within which the PR applications should normally be finalized. They will be granted only if an application is filed (1) while the foreign national is in Canada, (2) he or she has a valid work permit expiring within four months and (3) a positive eligibility decision on the PR application has been issued.

Global Launch of Electronic Applications for Temporary Residents

Since December 15, 2012, applicants around the world have the option of submitting their application for temporary status online. This applies to temporary resident visas, study or work permits and visitor extensions, whether the applicant is already present in Canada or residing abroad. At present, the new “e-Apps” system is not mandatory. Until further notice, paper applications will still be accepted at the In-land Processing Center or at Canadian visa offices abroad.

In case an applicant does not meet the requirements to use the new system, he or she will be directed to a paper application at the time of preparation. At present, the system does not allow filing of Temporary Resident Permit applications (a special permit granted to overcome a medical or criminal inadmissibility ground).

This change should hopefully reduce processing times.  But it is still too early to tell.

Permanent Residence: New Requirements for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC):

The relentless Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, is also leading major reforms on the Permanent Residence front. On January 2, 2013, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Program became more facilitative and is now open to foreign workers with only 12 months of Canadian work experience, rather than 24 months under the former program. In addition, foreign students graduating in Canada can now earn the required one year of work experience over a period of 36 months, rather than 24 months.

This increased flexibility has been well received by skilled worker applicants who now become eligible for permanent residence at an earlier date. We understand that the Federal Government is planning to accept an increasing number of permanent residents under this program that selects individuals with valuable Canadian work experience and skills to benefit Canada’s current labour market needs.

Permanent Residence: New Federal Skilled Trades Program:

On January 2, 2013 a newFederal Skilled TradesProgram was launched, aiming at addressing serious labour shortages in some Canadian regions and meeting the pressing needs of many industries in specific trades. Applicants qualified in one of the 43 occupations listed under the program will be eligible for permanent residency if they:

  • meet the language proficiency requirements in English or French,
  • have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer or are nominated by a province in a qualifying skilled trade,
  • possess a minimum of two years of experience in the listed occupation, acquired during the last five years,
  • meet the requirements of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) for this occupation.

For 17 of the 43 jobs, applications are capped at 100 applications per job.  These are considered jobs with a “moderate labour market need” and include contractors and supervisors in electrical, telecommunications, carpentry, construction, mechanic, mining and agricultural trades. There are no caps for the other 26 jobs. These are considered “in demand” jobs and include machinists, welders, electricians, plumbers, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, crane operators and oil and gas well drillers.

Permanent Residence: New Federal Skilled Worker Program:

On May 4, 2013, a new Federal Skilled Worker Program will be in place after the former program was put on hold in July 2012. The new selection system to take effect aims to better identify applicants with the most promising potential to respond to Canada’s economic needs.  Language proficiency will become the most important factor in the selection decision. The assessment of education credentials will be refined to better reflect the applicant’s background, compared to Canadian standards. The applicant’s (young) age, the availability of a job offer and prior Canadian work experience will also be given more weight.