The New and Improved Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), which had been temporarily closed since July 2012, has reopened. On May 4, 2013, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism delivered the details of the new and improved Federal Skilled Worker Program. The program was temporarily shut down to help address serious Canadian immigration backlogs, while also revamping many of its requirements. Minister Kenney relayed that the changes will ensure Canada continues to streamline immigrants with in-demand qualifications.
The changes eliminated a backlog of approximately 280,000 applicants for Canada permanent residency, prior to February 28, 2008. The decision to clear the backlog was controversial because it affected applicants who met all previous requirements, paid all necessary fees and were waiting for a determination of their application.
Prior to implementing these changes Federal Skilled Worker Program processing times were projected to reach a 15-year high by 2015, with a backlog of over 1.5 million applicants. One effort by Canadian immigration officials, to eliminate backlogs and wait times, was to introduce a list of 24 eligible occupations for the year 2013, thus limiting the scope of eligibility under the program. It should be noted applicants can still apply under the PhD stream, as well in cases of a qualifying offer of full-time, permanent Canadian employment.
The government will approve no more than 5000 applications under the FSWP in 2013, with no more than 300 applications being approved for each eligible occupation. As mentioned above, this cap can be circumvented if the applicant has arranged employment in Canada.
These changes constitute part of the 2012 Economic Action Plan for faster Canadian immigration, which has proven a success given the government has nearly eliminated all backlogs and Federal Skilled Worker applicants can now expect processing within approximately 1 year from the date of submission.
Improvements to this Canadian immigration program also included the revamp of the point system grid, where points are awarded to applicants based on six selection criteria. Thorough research was conducted to determine which selection factors were most indicative of the applicant’s likelihood of economic success in Canada. The six selection factors include age, education, language skills, work experience, adaptability and arranged employment. Through their research, the government found that language proficiency and youth (age) were the two most important factors in gauging the economic success of applicants.
The research included an evaluation of the program as it relates to its candidates, as well as a comparative analysis of immigration programs from other countries. Consultations from stakeholders and the public were also part of the revamping process. The objective of changing the point system was to help ensure positive economic outcomes, by selecting applicants who were best suited to integrate with the Canadian labour market.
Finally, another new measure meant to help meet this objective was the introduction of the Education Credential Assessment. The Education Credential Assessment requires foreign academic credentials to be evaluated in comparison to their Canadian equivalents. Foreign credentials are evaluated by Canadian government designated organizations, and will allow foreign nationals to determine ahead of time if their academic credentials will be recognized in Canada. This new requirement will allow potential newcomers to make better-informed decisions before applying for Canadian immigration.
The new changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program were tailored to meet the objectives outlined in Canada’s 2013 Economic Action Plan. The revisions promise a faster and more flexible Canadian immigration program by focusing on economic growth, such as job creation and other labour market needs.
For a free consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1 (855) 360-4333 or 1 (514) 360-4333 internationally.