That is the good news.  What ticks off many applicants are: (1) applications and visa fees of those who applied under FSW on or before February 2008 would be returned; (2) while the new FSW will set 67 points as the pass mark, the new system of assigning points for each factor i.e., age, education, experience and English proficiency will change.  To see the complete announcement, read on.

 

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Statutory authority

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Sponsoring department

Department of Citizenship and Immigration

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

1. Executive summary

Issue: The Economic Action Plan 2012 announced the Government of Canada’s intention to build a fast and flexible economic immigration selection system with a primary focus on meeting Canada’s labour market needs. These needs are evolving, marked by an ageing workforce and an economy that has a growing requirement for highly skilled professionals, paired with emerging shortages in certain skilled trades. Limited access to the type of talent required by Canada’s labour market inhibits economic growth. Federal economic immigration programs seek to supplement domestic labour supply by selecting highly skilled applicants with work experience in managerial, professional, technical or trade occupations. However, the current economic immigration selection criteria do not adequately respond to Canada’s evolving labour market needs, given that some skilled workers admitted through the programs continue to have difficulty finding jobs in their field, and some employers also face challenges in finding the workers with the skills and qualifications they need.

Description: A three-pronged approach is proposed to better select skilled workers who meet Canada’s current and evolving economic needs. It includes amendments to the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC), the creation of a new Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) and improvements to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) establish the selection criteria for the FSWC and prescribe the weight given to each selection factor. Primarily, the proposed regulatory amendments to the FSWC would rebalance the points among the criteria to place greater importance on factors that are most strongly associated with successful economic outcomes, such as language abilities, Canadian work experience, and the ability to contribute to the Canadian labour market for a longer period before retirement. Prospective applicants would be required to have their foreign educational credentials assessed and would be awarded points based on the equivalent completed Canadian educational credential. Permanent job offers under the Arranged Employment factor, with some exceptions, would be subject to a labour market assessment, similar to that required for applicants under the Temporary Foreign Worker Class (TFWC). This would further solidify program integrity and assess the impact of the prospective skilled worker on the Canadian labour market, while streamlining the process for prospective employers.

This regulatory package also proposes to introduce a new class for skilled tradespersons. The proposed pass/fail selection model would be based on four selection criteria reflective of the education and training pathways in these occupations and would be more indicative of a skilled tradesperson’s ability to work in Canada. The program would require an offer of employment in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a provincial authority in a skilled trade; a demonstrated proficiency in an official language; work experience in the skilled trade; and that the Canadian employment requirements, as described in the National Occupational Classification system, (see footnote 1) are met.

Measures would also be taken regarding the CEC to ease the transition to permanent residence of temporary skilled workers who have demonstrated an ability to economically integrate in Canada by revising regulations to reduce the required number of months of Canadian work experience for qualification in the program.

Through the proposed regulatory amendments, skilled workers could apply under one of these three federal classes, primarily depending on their work experience and whether it was acquired in Canada. Those in managerial, professional or technical occupations could apply under the improved FSWC. Although applicants in the skilled trades could also apply under the FSWC, the criteria in the proposed FSTC would be better adapted to suit skilled tradespersons, should they have an offer of employment in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a provincial authority and meet the other proposed criteria. Skilled workers already employed in Canada could benefit from enhancements to the CEC.

Cost-benefit statement: The cost benefit analysis (CBA) estimates that the overall cost associated with the proposed amendments would be $8.3 million. The estimated overall benefit is $146.2 million, resulting in a net benefit of $138 million over 10 years or an average of $13.8 million per year. In addition to the monetized impacts, there are qualitative benefits and costs. Key qualitative benefits include the improved overall profile of federal skilled workers resulting from modified assessment criteria to better meet Canada’s economic needs (i.e. minimum language proficiency, better assessment of foreign educational credentials, revised age points to attract younger applicants and enhanced adaptability factors). Taken together, these changes would result in the selection of skilled workers who are a better fit to the Canadian labour market. Other qualitative benefits would include the increased entry of skilled tradespersons into the labour market, benefits to employers who could gain from quicker access to the skilled talent they need, and the facilitation of the transition of temporary residents who have demonstrated an ability to integrate into the Canadian labour market and wish to apply for permanent residence under the CEC. Qualitative costs would include costs to provincial and territorial apprenticeship bodies of certifying skilled tradespersons in designated trades, should provinces and territories choose to increase their capacity to conduct more assessments.

Business and consumer impacts: This proposal is intended to benefit employers and applicants. By adapting the language, education, age and skill profile of skilled workers, newcomers selected under the FSWC and the FSTC would find employment that more closely matches their qualifications more quickly than they are able to under the current framework. Employers are expected to benefit by experiencing less time to access and train the skilled foreign workers they require. Administrative measures to enhance the program integrity of the Arranged Employment factor would mitigate the potential for fraud while assisting legitimate employers. These measures would seek to reduce the paper burden on employers and streamline the process for both employers and skilled workers with regard to offers of arranged employment.

2. Background

As one of the main avenues for permanent economic immigration to Canada, the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) responds to national and structural labour market needs by selecting immigrants based on their potential to become economically established in Canada. Each applicant’s essential and transferable skills are measured on a selection grid worth up to 100 points, and currently a minimum of 67 points is required to pass. Points are awarded for the candidate’s proficiency in one or both official languages, education, work experience, age, whether they have an indeterminate job offer in Canada (arranged employment), and their overall adaptability (such as previous work and study in Canada, an accompanying spouse / common-law partner’s education and the presence of relatives in Canada).

In 2011, approximately 37% of Canada’s economic immigrants were admitted through the FSWC (20 549 principal applicants plus 36 728 of their dependents). Of those, approximately 1 000 were skilled tradespersons, representing 1.9% of all permanent residents selected through this program. In addition, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the in-Canada immigration program begun in 2008, admitted 4% of Canada’s economic immigrants (3 973 principal applicants and 2 049 dependents), of whom 7.6% (458 permanent residents) were skilled tradespersons.

In the Economic Action Plan 2012 (Budget 2012), the Government of Canada announced its intention to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system with a primary focus on meeting Canada’s labour market needs. Specifically, the Plan stated the following:

To ensure that immigrants are ready to work, the assessment of educational credentials will be strengthened and the federal skilled worker point system will be reformed to reflect the importance of younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and better language skills.

The Government will provide further incentives to retain educated and experienced talent through the Canadian Experience Class and introduce a new stream to facilitate the entry of skilled tradespersons.

The points system was a Canadian innovation in the late 1960s. It was a method designed to reduce subjectivity in the selection of independent immigrants and select individuals with the education and skill level needed to propel the Canadian economy forward at a time of international industrial competition. The criteria were adapted in 2002, through the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), to focus on the longer-term potential of human capital and factors associated with lifetime productivity and adaptability, such as education, language skills, and work experience. Several countries have since adapted the points-based selection model to their own circumstances, including Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Singapore.

3. Issue

Since the development of the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) selection model, Canadian labour market needs have continued to evolve, marked by an ageing workforce and a growing demand for highly skilled professionals in the knowledge economy (e.g. specialized healthcare providers, information and communications technologies workers, and aerospace and other engineers). Employers in construction and natural resource sectors are also calling for workers to fill shortages in certain skilled trades.

Labour supply and demand projections forecast that two thirds of all new jobs created over the next decade are expected to be highly skilled occupations requiring postsecondary education, at university or college, or in skilled trades. However, research indicates that despite having higher levels of education than the general Canadian population, new immigrants continue to be subject to higher levels of unemployment and lower wages than Canadian-born workers. (see footnote 2) The top three barriers highly educated immigrants face in obtaining Canadian employment commensurate with their skills and education are the lack of official language skills, the non-transferability of their foreign credentials and a lack of Canadian work experience. (see footnote 3) (see footnote 4) In terms of economic outcomes, studies have shown that highly skilled immigrants have better labour market attachment and ultimately higher earnings. They are also more resilient during economic downturns.

Federal economic immigration programs seek to supplement domestic labour supply by selecting highly skilled applicants with work experience in managerial, professional, technical or trades occupations. In 2010, CIC evaluated the FSWC program. The program evaluation determined that it is producing positive results overall, but also suggested areas for improvement. The evaluation indicated that 22% of FSWs surveyed felt that their current job did not meet their expectations. The reasons for this, which are consistent with academic research on the difficulties faced by highly educated immigrants, include language barriers, the job not being in their intended occupation, and/or foreign education and experience not being recognized by Canadian employers. The evaluation recommended placing greater emphasis on full fluency in one of the official languages.

The evaluation also noted concerns regarding the integrity in the Arranged Employment (AE) factor, namely the use of fraudulent job offers to compensate for insufficient points in other areas. Subsequent quality assurance exercises conducted in visa offices abroad indicated trends in fraudulent job offers to make applicants eligible for priority processing under ministerial instructions (MI). (see footnote 5) The due diligence required to assess the validity of job offers is time consuming and can lead to lengthy wait times for applicants and the employers wishing to hire them.

The human capital model used in the FSWC suggests that better-educated workers could more readily adjust to an increasingly dynamic and competitive knowledge economy. However, although needed in the labour market, skilled tradespersons generally have more difficulty than applicants with advanced post-secondary academic credentials in obtaining sufficient points to pass the selection grid. In 2011, only a small proportion selected through the FSWC and the CEC — approximately 1 000, or 1.9%, of FSWs selected annually and 458, or 7.6%, of CECs — were tradespersons. With continuing and forecast shortages in certain skilled trades, (see footnote 6) many stakeholders are calling upon immigration to be part of the solution for trade workforce renewal.

Studies show that skilled workers with Canadian experience do better economically than those without.(see footnote 7) (see footnote 8) Although the CEC has been praised for its two-step immigration process which allows students and temporary workers to make the transition to permanent residence after acquiring Canadian work experience, the number of those doing so is still relatively small. The usual duration of temporary work permits currently creates a situation where most Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) lose their status in Canada at the point where they would otherwise become eligible for the CEC. Canada risks losing qualified new immigrants if it does not take additional measures to facilitate the retention of these highly skilled workers.

Program changes are required to respond to Canada’s evolving economic needs.

4. Objectives

The main objectives of the proposed regulatory package are

Overall, the proposal intends to contribute to improving the Canadian economy and strengthening Canada’s position in the global competition for talent through the selection of highly qualified foreign national skilled workers.

5. Description

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is proposing a three-pronged approach through amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to improve economic immigration outcomes:

Under the proposed changes, skilled workers wishing to immigrate to Canada could apply under one of three separate classes, depending on their work experience and whether this work experience was acquired in Canada. Those in managerial, professional, or technical occupations could apply under the improved FSWC by specifying the primary occupation under which they would be assessed, while those in the skilled trades could benefit from criteria more reflective of the education and training pathways in these occupations through the proposed FSTC. In addition, TFW already in Canada in skilled occupations, and their employers, could benefit from a faster transition to permanent residence via the CEC. The proposed amendments are based on recent research, program evaluation results, consultation with stakeholders and best practices in other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. (see footnote 9)

These changes would affect prospective permanent resident applicants in professional, managerial, technical and trades occupations. As is currently the case, to be eligible for the FSWC and CEC, applicants must have work experience in one or more occupations listed in the National Occupation Classifications (NOC) matrix at Skill Type 0 (management occupations), Skill Level A (professional occupations), or Skill Level B (technical occupations and skilled trades). To qualify for the FSTC, only applicants with work experience in certain skilled trade occupations listed at Skill Level B would be eligible. Lower-skilled occupations requiring only secondary school and/or occupation-specific training (NOC Skill Level C), and those requiring only on-the-job training (NOC Skill Level D), would not be eligible.

(a) Revised FSWC points system for managers/professionals/technicians

Specific features of the regulatory changes proposed to the points system include the following.

 The number of points for the second official language would be reduced from 8 points to 4 points, for abilities at level CLB 5 and above, in response to research and feedback from stakeholders, noting the lack of evidence that this factor contributes to positive economic outcomes for the majority of applicants. Bilingualism would continue to be rewarded in the selection system, in recognition of the IRPA’s objectives related to official language minority communities and respecting the bilingual character of Canada. With these changes, language proficiency would become the most important factor on the grid, representing a total of 28 points, an increase from 24 points, in recognition of its critical importance in ensuring positive economic outcomes.

 Education points would be awarded based on the equivalent Canadian educational credential and points would be redistributed in recognition of the credential’s relevance in the Canadian labour market.

 In the case of applicants who have listed a regulated occupation in their application, where a professional body has been designated by CIC to conduct such assessments, the applicant must submit that professional body’s foreign educational credential assessment establishing that the foreign educational credential is equivalent to the Canadian educational credential required to practice that occupation.

 Furthermore, should the assessment of an applicant’s credential by a professional body not demonstrate that the credential is equivalent to the Canadian credential required for the occupation listed in the application, the applicant will not be eligible to apply in the Federal Skilled Worker Class under that occupation.

 All other applicants must submit a foreign educational credential assessment provided by a designated organization to demonstrate that their educational credential is equivalent to a Canadian educational credential.

 The specific objectives of this particular proposed amendment are (1) to increase the integrity of the arranged employment factor by enhancing the genuineness assessment and labour market impact through the addition of measures such as the requirement that employers demonstrate that they have tried to first recruit and train Canadians for an available position; and (2) to improve labour market responsiveness by providing a faster and more streamlined process for employers and applicants.

 With the proposed changes, employers would be required to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) to HRSDC, whether it is in support of a temporary work permit application and/or a permanent residence application. Eliminating the arranged employment opinion (AEO) and replacing it with the LMO is intended to reduce the burden on employers in the event the worker seeks to apply for permanent residence concurrently with a temporary work permit application. Using all rather than some of the LMO assessment factors already used for the Temporary Foreign Worker Class (TFWC) would enable a consistent and streamlined process for applicants and employers. These factors include the labour market impact of the entry of the foreign workers as it relates for example to wages, working conditions, recruitment efforts, labour shortages, and the genuineness of the job offer and the employer. The LMO would reduce the potential for fraudulent job offers, thus contributing to improved program integrity, and ensure that the job offer meets broader Canadian labour market objectives. Returning employers with good program compliance records may be eligible for accelerated LMO processing. FSWC applicants with a positive or neutral LMO from HRSDC could be awarded up to 15 points on the selection grid.

 For programming consistency and integrity, CIC and HRSDC would also extend the TFWC’s “substantially the same” (see footnote 13) compliance-related assessment of wages, working conditions and occupations, along with extending the TFWC list of ineligible employers to also include non-compliant employers in the FSWC and the FSTC. Some exceptions to the requirement for an LMO would apply with respect to labour mobility provisions under international agreements such as NAFTA and GATS. In these instances, employers would need to demonstrate to CIC that they are making a qualifying job offer (i.e. non-seasonal and indeterminate).

 Furthermore, the 2010 evaluation noted concerns about points for spousal education since the economic outcomes of most applicants who received points for spousal education were the same as those who did not receive them. Visa officers also observed that many spouses / common-law partners had never worked in their field. Consultation feedback encouraged replacing the spousal education adaptability factor with spousal basic language proficiency to improve the likelihood of a family’s successful integration and to reduce spousal vulnerability. Given the overall importance of language proficiency for successful establishment, CIC proposes to proceed with this change.

 To be awarded points for their previous study in Canada, the applicant or accompanying spouse would need to have obtained, studying full time in a program of at least a two-year duration, the necessary credits to successfully complete two years of study. For the purposes of adaptability, secondary school will be accepted as an eligible program of study.

 The evaluation also noted that having a relative in Canada did not improve economic outcomes for skilled workers. However, in an effort to recognize other benefits that can be associated with having an adult relative in Canada, CIC would be introducing minimum age criteria to increase the likelihood that the relative will be able to play a role in facilitating the economic and social integration of the applicant.

 Adaptability points will not be awarded for spouses who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents living in Canada, as they can sponsor applicants through the Family Class.

The following table outlines the proposed amendments to the FSWC points system.

Current Points
System Grid

Proposed Changes

First Official Language:

Maximum 16 points

No official language ability required

First Official Language:

Maximum 24 points

New Mandatory Minimum

Basic

Approx. CLB/NCLC 4 or 5

Minimum threshold in all abilities

Initially set at CLB/NCLC 7

1 pt per ability to max. of 2

4 pts per ability

 

Understands the main points and important details of a conversation and can write routine business correspondence; able to participate in small group discussions and express opinions and reservations about a topic.

Moderate

Approx. CLB/NCLC 6 or 7

Threshold + 1 CLB/NCLC level

2 pts per ability

5 pts per ability

 

CLB/NCLC 8

Understands technical conversations and reading material in their line of work; asks questions, analyzes and compares information in order to make decisions.

High

CLB/NCLC 8 +

Threshold + 2 or more CLB/NCLC levels

4 pts per ability

6 pts per ability

 

CLB/NCLC 9

Participates in business meetings and debates; understands a broad range of general and abstract topics; writes formal and informal notes and summary documents.

Second Official Language:

Maximum 8 points

8

Second Official Language:

Maximum 4 points
CLB/NCLC 5 in all abilities

4

Age:

Maximum 10 points

 

Age:

Maximum 12 points

 

21 to 49 yrs

10

18 to 35 yrs

12

20 or 50 yrs

8

36 yrs

11

19 or 51 yrs

6

37 yrs

10

18 or 52 yrs

4

Less one point per year

17 or 53 yrs

2

46 yrs

1

<17 or >53 yrs

0

47 and over

0

Work Experience:

Maximum 21 points

 

Work Experience:

Maximum 15 points

 

1 yr

15

1 yr

9

2 yrs

17

2–3 yrs

11

3 yrs

19

4–5 yrs

13

4+ yrs

21

6+ yrs

15

Education:

Maximum 25 points

 

Education:

Maximum 25 points

Points will be awarded based on an assessment of educational credentials by a designated organization, indicating the foreign educational credential’s equivalent in Canada.

Master’s or Doctoral level (+17 yrs)

25

Doctoral level

25

Two or more credentials at the bachelor’s level OR 3-year post-secondary credential (+15 yrs)

22

Master’s level or professio

 

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