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Canada Immigration News

Four-year limit for foreign nationals working in Canada

Starting April 1, 2011, many temporary foreign workers will be subject to a four-year ‘cumulative duration’ limit on the length of time they may work in Canada.

This regulation is not retroactive – The clock starts ticking on April 1, 2011, for all TFWs, regardless of how long they have already been in Canada.

The earliest date that a foreign worker could reach the four-year cumulative duration limit is April 1, 2015.

Work permit applications that propose an end-date beyond April 1, 2015, will be assessed to ensure the foreign worker is eligible to work the full period of time.

If an employer has made a job offer to a worker who has reached or is close to reaching the four-year cumulative duration limit, the work permit application may be refused or the duration of the work permit may be limited.

After a TFW has reached their four-year cumulative duration limit, they will not be granted another work permit in Canada for an additional four years. After that time has elapsed, the worker will again be permitted to work in Canada.

Proposed Changes to the Federal Skilled Worker program

In August, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced major changes to Canadian immigration that will result in an overhaul of the system currently governing economic-based immigration to Canada. The overhaul is scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2013 and will result in the selection of a different profile of Federal Skilled Workers as well as a distinct program that targets skilled tradespersons.

These changes are integral to the implementation of what CIC is calling a “faster, more flexible” immigration system. It is hoped that the changes will help to better target immigrants who are best prepared to make a smooth transition to living and working in Canada.

Proposed updates to the FSWC program are as follows:

Pass Mark – The pass mark will remain at 67 points.

Minimum Language Proficiency – CIC statistics indicate that proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages is a key to securing a good job. Therefore, points allocated for language ability (in either English or French) will be raised from 16 to 24. Points for ability in the second official language will be reduced from 8 to 4, as little evidence has been found that this helps immigrants.

Minimum Language Proficiency – CIC statistics indicate that proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages is a key to securing a good job. Therefore, points allocated for language ability (in either English or French) will be raised from 16 to 24. Points for ability in the second official language will be reduced from 8 to 4, as little evidence has been found that this helps immigrants.

A language threshold, in order to be eligible to apply, will also be instituted. It is anticipated that this threshold will be set at the Canadian Language Benchmark 7, which is equivalent to “adequate intermediate proficiency”. See Reference: Revised Language Standards at the end of this article.

Emphasis on Younger Workers – Canada needs younger workers who will contribute to the labour market for years to come. Therefore, up to 12 points will be awarded to individuals aged 18-35. Previously, the same points were awarded between the ages of 21-49. Points will diminish until the age of 46. However, there is no age limit for applying to the FSWC program.

Amending Work Experience Points – Because it is not highly valued by Canadian employers, the maximum number of points awarded for foreign work experience will be decreased from 21 to 15 points. In order to achieve maximum points, applicants must have 6 full years of experience, as opposed to 4.

Credential Assessment – Designated non-government organizations will be contracted by the government to authenticate educational credentials and determine their equivalency in Canada. Individuals who hold credentials that are not recognized in Canada will not be eligible to apply to the FSWC program.

If an applicant claims work in a regulated occupation, CIC may designate a professional body in Canada to conduct an assessment of the applicant’s credentials.

Arranged Employment – The current process of securing Arranged Employment Offers will be disposed of. In its place, Canadian employers, whose workers are applying through the FSWC program, will have to secure a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). The LMO process is already used to help secure temporary work permits for foreign workers. FSWC applicants, whose prospective employment includes a positive or neutral LMO, will receive up to 15 points.

Changing Adaptability Requirements – A principal applicant to the FSWC who has Canadian work experience will be awarded a maximum of 10 points. 5 points will be awarded for study in Canada. Spousal adaptability will now be assessed on the basis of language skills, as opposed to education.

In order to receive points for relatives in Canada, the relative will have to meet a minimum age threshold of 18 years.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has stated that “the new Skilled Worker program will be limited to applicants in NOCs O, A, and B, but won’t be limited to particular occupations.” While the Minister has said that there won’t be a limitation on particular occupations, it is expected that there will be an overall cap or limit to the number of applications that will be accepted for assessment by CIC.

Introduction of Federal Skilled Trades Class

In order to better facilitate the entry of skilled tradespersons to Canada, CIC has created the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) of immigration. This will be open to tradespersons with skills in the following 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; Bakers and Butchers

All of these trades are considered “skilled”, and fall into the “B” level of work, as defined by Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC). The FSTC is not a points-based immigration program. Rather, it operates on a pass/fail system.

Applicants to this new immigration program will have to meet the following 4 requirements:

  1. Must receive either:
    • A qualifying offer of employment in Canada. Offers must be for at least 1 year in duration; OR
    • A Certificate of Qualification from a provincial or territorial authority.
  2. Minimum language proficiency of at least Canadian Level Benchmark 5 (“initial intermediate”).
  3. 24 months of work experience in their skilled trade during the last 5 years.
  4. Professional qualifications that prove their ability to perform their job.

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