Sometimes a successful immigration program can become a victim of its own success.
Canada’s point system of immigration became so attractive internationally, over a 40-year period, that a backlog of over one million applications was taking between two to eight years to process. A lot can happen in that time span. Immigrants lose interest, find other countries for relocation, change jobs and, for Canada, skill sets needed for a dynamic economy can alter dramatically in an eight year period.
Since 2008, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has made radical changes to the immigration selection process to:
- Reduce and eliminate backlogs (by returning about 300,000 applications);
- Accept only about 30 professional or technical job categories when applying independently;
- Allow more “blue collar” trades;
- Promote permanent residence applications from within Canada for those with temporary work or study permits; and
- Work in conjunction with the provinces to select workers and business investors.
In summary, the substantive changes that CIC has made can be summed up with one question to the potential applicant: “What is your connection to Canada?”
In the past, a person wishing to immigrate needed no connection to Canada if the applicant was between the ages of 22 and 49, had a university degree, had four years of relevant working experience and spoke English or French. As a result of such liberal qualifications for immigration, the backlog grew without addressing the economic realities of the country which required a review of job demands and the need for younger workers.
Now, CIC has changed the ideal age range of the new immigrant to 18-35 and determines a substantial connection to Canada if:
- degrees are assessed and equated to Canadian standards;
- trade qualifications bear a Red Seal approval for journeyman levels recognized by Canada;
- the individual has worked in Canada at a skilled, technical, professional or managerial level for at least one full year;
- the individual has studied in Canada for a minimum of two years leading to a Canadian educational degree or diploma;
- there is a Canadian-based employer ready, willing and able to provide a full-time, permanent job to the individual;
- the person has travelled to Canada for an exploratory visit for business opportunities and has formulated a business plan approved by a province; or
- a student has completed at least two years of an ongoing PhD program.
Connection to Canada is the key. Under the old skilled worker category, using only the point system, Canada used to welcome about 150,000 immigrants every year. That figure now has been reduced to less than 10,000 for those seeking immigration to Canada without a connection. The government expects the newly-created immigrant avenues to fill the shortfall, which will only be realized over the next three to five years as the potential immigrants continue to look to Canada.
by David Aujla