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What Other Changes does Budget 2012 Signal for Immigration?

Posted by kanrisha in blog - (Comments Off on What Other Changes does Budget 2012 Signal for Immigration?)

The Federal Government gave a budget speech today, but it was chock full of immigration news. For the past few months, Jason Kenney has been hinting about coming changes and testing the waters to see what kind of reaction his proposals would get. Although they’re not law yet, we can expect to see them become official in the near future.

Let’s see what the Government has in mind.

Building A Fast and Flexible Economic Immigration System

The Government is committed to transitioning to a faster and more flexible economic immigration system. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:

  • Taking further actions to strengthen the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future.

OK, not much we can take from this collection of buzz words and motherhood statements. Let’s see what else we’ve got to work with.

  • Announcing the Government’s intention to better align the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with labour market demands and to ensure that businesses look to the domestic labour force before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“Better align the TFWP with labour market demands” . . . If that means greater involvement by Service Canada in the TWF process, we can pretty well kiss ‘proactive, targeted, fast and efficient’ good-bye. But if Kenney is proposing to reduce SC’s role, the whole economy will breathe a huge sigh of relief. The part about looking to the “domestic labour force before accessing the TFWP” has to make you think that you’d better put Service Canada on your speed dial. It’s almost as if CIC is looking for new ways to create backlogs and bottlenecks.

  • Signalling the Government’s intention to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition and to work with provinces and territories to identify the next set of target occupations for inclusion, beyond 2012, under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.

This one is multi-layered and chock full of ideas.

First is foreign-credential recognition. Applicants looking to immigrate as Skilled Workers will have to get a pre-arrival assessment of their credentials. CIC admits that this will do nothing to guarantee employment on arrival – we probably won’t solve that problem until we can convince employers that there is more to a CV than ‘Canadian experience’.

Then comes ‘working with the provinces and territories’. The Federal Government has been trying to gracefully (or not so gracefully – see our earlier post on dumping the SFW backlog) get out of the Skilled Worker business entirely, by shifting skilled workers to Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that are employer driven.

But then we take a giant step backwards in trying to identify the next set of target occupations for inclusion. CIC has always believed that it can micromanage the labour force by flipping switches on its lists of approved occupations. The thing is, it takes them so long to process applications that whatever demand they imagined there was for a particular occupation has long since moved on by the time they get the tap open.

And “the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications”? First we’ve heard, we have to confess. Watch this space for further updates.

Government Plans to Dump all pre-2008 Skilled Worker Applications

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Today, Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister, rose in the House to announce the Federal Government’s 2012 budget. Flaherty is not the Immigration Minister, but his budget speech had profound implications for a lot of people who have been waiting patiently – as much as 7 years or even more – for their permanent residence application to be processed.

The Government’s budget included a proposal to:
Build A Fast and Flexible Economic Immigration System

And how are they planning to do that? By jettisoning a millstone they have around their necks, in the form of the 500,000-strong backlog of pre-February, 2008 Federal Skilled Worker applications. It’s still a ‘proposal’ at this stage, but unless the Government gets a firestorm of complaints about it, its majority pretty much assures that the proposal will become law in the near future.

The text of the Government’s announcement is reproduced below.

The Government is committed to transitioning to a faster and more flexible economic immigration system. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:

* Taking further actions to strengthen the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future (by) . . .

* Proposing to return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees paid by certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied under previous criteria established prior to February 27, 2008.

Federal Skilled Worker Backlog Reduction Pilot

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On March 15, 2012 the BC PNP launched a new pilot project in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to reduce processing times for select Federal Skilled Worker applicants.

The Federal Skilled Worker Backlog Reduction Pilot targets CIC clients who submitted their applications for permanent residence prior to February 27, 2008 and who have experience in a select group of high demand engineering, information technology and construction occupations.

Those who are invited to participate will receive a letter from CIC and will be eligible to submit an application to the BC PNP without a job offer from a BC employer. The BC PNP will assess pilot project participants on their ability to become economically established in BC by considering a number of factors including age, education, work experience and English language ability. Successful applicants will be issued a nomination certificate that will entitle them to expedited processing of their applications for permanent residence by CIC.

The BC PNP will issue up to 250 nomination certificates through the pilot.
http://www.welcomebc.ca/wbc/immigration/come/work/about/information/news.page?