May 09, 2013

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently announced further guidance for the newly redesigned Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). In addition to releasing the official list of eligible occupations under the new program, authorities have also designated four organizations to provide the newly-required assessments of foreign educational credentials for applicants who have completed degrees outside of Canada.

The new FSWP re-opened to all applicants on May 4, 2013.

What is the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

The FSWP is a points-based immigration system that is aimed at highly-skilled, well-educated foreign nationals who have the “ability to succeed economically in Canada.” Applicants are granted points based on education level, language proficiency in English and/or French, work experience, age, and adaptability factors to establish themselves economically in Canada. In general, applicants will need to score at least 67 of the 100 possible points based on the aforementioned categories.

Previously closed to most applications on July 1, 2012 due to program concerns and a backlog of pending applications, the program has re-opened on May 4, 2013 to all eligible applicants.

What’s Changed?

Applicants wishing to apply through the newly-redesigned FSWP must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Have at least one continuous year of experience in the 24 eligible occupations – please see below for a complete list;
  • Qualifying offer of arranged employment – please see below for changes to this stream; or
  • Able to apply through the PhD stream.

New to the program as of May 4, applicants must now meet a minimum language threshold in either English or French, with additional points given to applicants who are skilled in both languages. For a list of third-party testing organizations, please refer to the CIC website.

In addition, CIC has also introduced a required educational credential assessment (ECA) for all educational degrees earned outside of Canada. Four organizations have recently been named by Canadian authorities to provide official ECAs (links attached):

Finally, one of the major criticisms of the former FSWP was the extremely long processing time for each application and the extensive delays experienced by many applicants and employers. The new program is designed to process applications within 12 months of filing. CIC has confirmed that priority will be given to applicants applying with a qualifying offer of employment in order to facilitate staffing schedules.

Eligible Occupation Stream

The new list of eligible occupations is as follows (with 2011 National Occupations Classification Codes):

  • 0211 Engineering managers
  • 1112 Financial and investment analysts
  • 2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers
  • 2131 Civil engineers
  • 2132 Mechanical engineers
  • 2134 Chemical engineers
  • 2143 Mining engineers
  • 2144 Geological engineers
  • 2145 Petroleum engineers
  • 2146 Aerospace engineers
  • 2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers)
  • 2154 Land surveyors
  • 2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • 2243 Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • 2263 Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety
  • 3141 Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • 3142 Physiotherapists
  • 3143 Occupational therapists
  • 3211 Medical laboratory technologists
  • 3212 Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
  • 3214 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • 3215 Medical radiation technologists
  • 3216 Medical sonographers
  • 3217 Cardiology technicians and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified)

The newly-released eligible occupations will have an overall cap of 5,000 new applications and a sub-cap of 300 applications in each occupation.

Arranged Employment Stream

The Arranged Employment stream is designed for those applicants who are offered a full-time employment offer that is of a permanent nature from a Canadian employer. Often this application stream is utilized by an employer who may not have an immediate hiring need.

Previously, employers wishing to hire a foreign national under the Arranged Employment stream needed to file an Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) with the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to certify that their offer of employment is genuine and fits the necessary criteria.

As of May 4, 2013 and under the new FSWP guidelines, CIC will no longer accept AEOs and most applications in this stream will require a Labor Market Opinion (LMO).

For those Arranged Employment applications submitted with an AEO letter on or before March 8, 2013, please note that those AEOs were only held valid through May 3, 2013. In other words, those applications filed with an AEO that did not choose to submit a supplementary LMO will need to be revisited with your Canadian immigration supplier.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Generally, employers should be aware of the May 4th re-opening of the newly redesigned Foreign Skilled Worker Program and the following significant changes to the program:

  • New list of eligible occupations;
  • Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) – required for all educational credentials earned outside of Canada;
  • Minimum ¬†language threshold – must be met in both English and French;
  • Discontinuation of Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) – for Arranged Employment stream applications only. The new FSWP will require that Arranged Employment applications be supported by a Labor Market Opinion (LMO); and
  • Decreased processing time – FSWP applications should be processed within 12 months of filing, with priority given to applicants with an eligible employment ¬†offer.

For those Arranged Employment applications filed on or after March 8, 2013, and remained in process up and to the May 4 re-opening of the FSWP, employers should confirm whether they opted to supplement the AEO letter with an LMO per the option provided by HRSDC. Please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist and/or Canadian immigration supplier for further details and to assess the status of any pending cases.

Finally, employers who may have previously disregarded the FSWP as an option in permanently relocating employees to Canada, may wish to reconsider utilizing the new program in circumstances where there is no immediate need for the individual to travel, but would like to get a head start on the permanent resident process prior to arrival in Canada. CIC has stated that processing times will be much faster, and applications will be adjudicated within 12 months of filing. Furthermore, those applicants applying through the Arranged Employment stream will be given priority to facilitate hiring practices.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by SooHyung Smit, Coordinator, Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in Canada to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.