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Proposed changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program


<br /><br /><br />Proposed changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program On August 17, 2012, the Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, announced proposed revisions for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. The previous selection criterion was rigid and not staying current with the labour market needs. The long processing times and outdated occupational lists couldn’t keep pace with the realities of the Canadian workplace. The government is hoping that these new changes will bring individuals who are a better fit and more adaptable to the Canadian Labour Market.

The existing point based selection system applied to the Federal Skilled Worker Class was innovative in the late 1960’s when it was originally introduced. Although this method reduced the subjectivity in selecting independent immigrants (which was its original focus), it hasn’t been updated in a very long time. The original selection model hasn’t been agile enough to keep up with the practical requirements of the Canadian labour market needs — The Canadian economy is facing an ageing workforce and increased demands for highly skilled professionals and trades which our existing population will not be able to sustain without the appropriate immigrant pool.
Some highlights of these new proposed changes include:
  • Making language the most important selection factor by establishing new minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language;
  • Increasing the emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience and remain in the workforce longer;
  • Introducing a new skilled tradespersons (with experience) class;
  • Increasing points for Canadian work experience and reducing points for foreign work experience; and
  • Simplifying the arranged employment process to prevent fraud and abuse yet enable employers to staff positions more quickly.

The intention of these new regulations is to benefit both Canadian employers and applicants. By implementing updated selection criteria which emphasizes language, education, age and skill profile, the new framework is aimed at identifying immigrants who are better equipped to establish themselves more quickly.  In addition, the government will be streamlining some of the administration burden placed on employers who wish to hire and retain foreign workers. Those individuals who are currently on a work permit through an international agreement such as NAFTA, GATS or a Working Holiday Program will be better able to bridge the transition time required to qualify for permanent residency.

The federal government has currently imposed a moratorium on the existing Federal Skilled Worker Program except for PhD Graduates or those with Arranged Employment. The proposed regulations will be likely to take effect on January 1, 2013.

Amelia Chan is an HR and Immigration Consultant who specializes in skilled foreign workers. She can be reached at

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