An Alternative Approach for Canadian Skilled Worker Immigration

Filed under Canadian Immigration

toronto_nightImmigration to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Class has been increasingly difficult nowadays due to the recent change of Canadian immigration law and policy. Under changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, federal skilled worker applications are assessed for eligibility according to new eligibility criteria.  These criteria directly affect the applicants who applied on or after February 27, 2008 and many of whom would become ineligible to apply for Canadian permanent residence under the federal skilled worker class, because their occupations no longer fall within the amended list of the most-needed 38 occupations.

According to the new policy, in order to be eligible for processing, an applicant must either:

  • have an offer of arranged employment, OR
  • be a foreign national living legally in Canada for one year as a temporary foreign worker or an international student, OR
  • be a skilled worker who has at least one year of experience in one or more of the specified 38 occupations, which include Financial Managers, Managers in Health Care, Geologists, Mining Engineers, Registered Nurses, etc., but exclude most of the occupations listed in Skill type O, Skill Level A or B of the National Occupation Classification List.

Facing such a higher threshold and tougher requirements, many people who do not meet these criteria have to give up their dream to work and live in Canada through skilled worker immigration.  However, there are some ways to cope with the difficulty under certain circumstances.  Some alternative options may be available.  One way is to apply the Provincial Nominee Programs of different provinces of Canada. Each province sets up its own special and preferential treatments or opportunities to attract skilled workers and business people. But the hard part is that an applicant is required to get a job offer from an employer and then obtain a nomination from the province.

Alberta’s program is an exception. In response to the increasing unemployment challenges faced by US H-1B workers as a result of the financial crisis and economic downturn in the United States, Alberta tabled a special category in its Strategic Recruitment Stream—-US Visa Holder Category, aiming at facilitating the entry of U.S. visa holders currently working temporarily in the United States into Alberta’s permanent labor force. A current U.S. visa holder in H-1B, H1B1, H-1C, or E-3, whose occupation fall within the AINP Occupations Under Pressure List for the Strategic Recruitment Stream _ U.S. Visa holder Category, and who has a minimum of one year of work experience in the U.S. in one of the above-mentioned visa categories, may apply for an Alberta Provincial Nominee without the need of the sponsorship of a local employer. This is the beauty and the special feature of the program. If the application is approved, the candidate becomes a Provincial Nominee and will be directed to proceed with the permanent residence application.

Alberta’s U.S. Visa Holder Category Immigration Program has attracted a lot of H-1B workers from the United States so far, among whom a great percentage of applicants are IT professionals. As Alberta does not need so many skilled workers in computer field, AINP Occupations under Pressure List is undergoing substantial change and adjustment, and the new List will be published soon any time. Therefore, those who want to take advantage of the Alberta Program must act quickly before it is too late.

Another option is to get Canadian experience in order to be able to apply for Canadian skilled worker immigration. For those who have had the accumulated points of 67 or so, but their occupations fall outside the list of the Federal Skilled Worker Occupations, they can, if they want, apply to study in Canada as international students, or to work under temporary work visa for at least one year. Once this requirement is met, they will be eligible to apply for Canadian permanent residence under Federal Skilled Worker Class.

Or, if they study and/or work in Canada for two years, they will be able to apply for Canadian permanent residence from within Canada under a new category —- the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The Canadian Experience Class is a new and pragmatic immigration policy. It looks at what work experience or what type of education the applicant already has. The worker applicant is someone who is already living in Canada and who has two years of work experience. Also, the work needs to be a higher skill level according to the National Occupation Codes (NOC), requiring professional or technical skills. The student applicant needs to have completed at least two years of post-secondary school and have one year’s work experience.

The reason for this change is that the government wants to encourage skilled, educated workers to stay in Canada. These people have already established themselves here while pursuing their education at a Canadian institution or working for a Canadian employer. They are settled in Canada. It will be to the best interests of Canada to adopt the Canadian Experience Class so as to keep these people in Canada using their Canadian education or work experience to work for Canada.

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