Monday, 25 March 2013

Canadian immigration announces further changes to Federal Skilled Worker Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has issued a short statement about the Federal Skilled Worker Program. The program is currently suspended but is due to re-open for business in May 2013.
The CIC statement advises that if you intend to apply for the revamped FSWP in May that it intends to make three announcements in April about the program. This will affect the way in which you make your application.

CIC says it will provide details of the following in April
• There will be a cap on the number of applications in the first year of the new FSWP. The level of the cap will, presumably, be announced in April
• There will be a new list of priority occupations. This too should be revealed in April
• Canadian Immigration will announce the list of organisations that will be authorised to conduct educational assessments under the new FSWP.

CIC says that if you complete your application before this information is released you run the risk of making and invalid application. If your application does not comply with all the requirements of the new FSWP, then your application will not be processed.

FSWP 'Canada's main skilled immigration route'

The FSWP was Canada's main immigration route for skilled workers until it was suspended by CIC in June 2012. Previously, about 55,000 people gained Canadian permanent residence under the FSWP annually. However, a substantial backlog of applications had built up with some people waiting eight years to have their applications processed.
Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney announced in June 2012 that all applications made before 28th February 2008 would be terminated and the application fees of applicants returned. This decision has been challenged in the courts by some of those applicants. Their case is currently being heard by the Canadian federal court.

In July 2012, Mr Kenney announced the temporary closure of the FSWP. No fresh applications have been accepted since then. Mr Kenney said that this would allow the backlog to be further reduced and allow CIC to reform the program. In December 2012, Mr Kenney announced a series of changes that will apply to the FSWP when it re-opens.

FSWP reformed while suspended

These include
• A higher minimum threshold of skill in either English or French (Canada's two official languages) than before. Applicants will now have to demonstrate by way of a test that they meet level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmark.
• A greater number of points will be granted to younger applicants than under the old system.
• A new 'Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) scheme will allow the Canadian government to compare foreign educational qualifications with Canadian ones
• A reform of the 'Arranged Employment' rules so that those with an offer of employment can be hired more quickly
• Additional points will be granted to FSWP applicants if their spouse has attained a certain level of English or French ability and/or has work experience in Canada.
Mr Kenney has said that he intends to reform the FSWP in future so that it is more similar to the Australian 'expression of interest' system. He says that this will enable CIC to select the immigrants with the right skills for Canadian business.

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