Breaking News: The Revised Federal Skilled Worker Program!

Breaking News: The Revised Federal Skilled Worker Program!

On 17 August 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) unveiled the regulatory changes expected to be implemented in January 2013, when the current moratorium that hit the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) two months ago will expire. The proposed changes have been already printed in the official publication of the Canadian Government (Canada Gazette); they cover almost 50 pages of sophisticated rules and guidelines that are essentially built on the following principles:
1. Making language the most important selection factor by establishing new minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language. Unlike the current system, each principal applicant must pass a language test and demonstrate in each ability (listening, reading, writing and speaking) at least the level 7 of the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks); to give just an example, for those who choose to take the IELTS, this level requires mark 6 in each ability. This new requirement will be the hardest to observe, especially for people who use other alphabets that the Latin one. The good news is, however, that people who manage to pass the test, will be able to obtain 24 points for “high proficiency” instead of 16 points as in the current system.
2. Increasing the emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience and remain in the workforce longer. While the present system awards 10 points to any applicant between 21 and 49 years of age, under the new regulation people between 18 and 35 years will get 12 points, then for each additional year the immigration score is going to be diminished with one point.
3. Increasing points for Canadian work experience and reducing points for foreign work experience. Currently, an applicant obtains 15 points for one year experience (which is a compulsory requirement) to a maximum of 21 points for four years, no matter where that experience has been accumulated; the new system will only grant a maximum of 15 points for at least six (not four) years of foreign work experience (and only 9 points for one year), but an applicant who has worked in Canada for at least one year is going to get 10 additional points.
4. Simplifying the arranged employment process to prevent fraud and abuse yet enable employers to staff positions quickly. Under the new rules, arranged employment will be recognized and rewarded with a total of 15 points if the applicant has obtained a work permit based on a Labour Market Opinion.
5. Awarding points for spousal language ability and Canadian experience. When it comes to couples, if the dependent spouse can pass a test and demonstrate a minimum CLB level 4, the principal applicant will get an additional 5 points. On the other hand, the new rules will no longer award points for the spouse’s education. Also, a spouse who worked in Canada for at least one year will bring another 5 points to the total score.
6. Finally, the future regulations will implement a mandatory Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) – a requirement that FSWP applicants have their education abroad assessed against Canadian education standards by designated organizations. CIC will then award points according to how an applicant’s foreign educational credential compares to a completed educational credential in Canada. Please note that our firm will choose the best assessing authority and process for our clients their ECA applications as part of our package of services.

The full text of the proposed FSWP regulatory changes is now available online in the Canada Gazette. They also include improvements to the Canadian Experience Class and the creation of a new Federal Skilled Trades Program. You will find details about those programs in our website in the very near future. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to write us if you have any questions about the new rules. Their final publication is scheduled for late 2012 and the new FSWP points grid will likely take effect in January 2013. While there is currently a pause on new applications (except for FSWP candidates with a qualifying offer of arranged employment or those applying under the PhD stream), CIC expects to begin accepting applications again early next year.

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