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Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Program will accept applications again from May 4, 2013

Since July 1, 2012 Citizenship and Immigration Canada has not accepted applications for permanent residence in Canada pursuant the Federal Skilled Worker Program, except for those from certain PhD students and those supported by a qualifying job offer. Recently, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced a number of significant changes to the Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). It was also announced that the new FSWP would again open up for applications on May 4, 2013. The changes to the FSWP selection criteria include:

  • Minimum official language thresholds and increased points for official language proficiency, making language the most important factor in the selection process;
  • Increased emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience, are better positioned to adapt to changing labour market conditions, and who will spend a greater number of years contributing to Canada’s economy;
  • Introduction of the Educational Credential Assessment, so that education points awarded reflect the foreign credential’s true value in Canada;
  • Changes to the arranged employment process, allowing employers to hire applicants quickly, if there is a demonstrated need in the Canadian labour market; and
  • Additional adaptability points for spousal language ability and Canadian work experience.

There will be two new steps to the new FSWP selection system. First, applicants will have to demonstrate that they meet the minimum language threshold, which is level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmark assessment system. Applicants will be able to get a language assessment from the existing agencies that the Minister designated.

Second, applicants will have to have their educational credentials assessed prior to arriving in Canada. It is expected that assessment of foreign educational credentials will provide prospective newcomers with a more realistic understanding of how their credentials compare to education standards in Canada. It will also give them the opportunity to upgrade their education prior to coming to Canada if they choose. The Minister has not yet designated organization to conduct Educational Credential Assessments. It is expected that a list of assessment organizations will be released in April 2013.

Many prospective immigrants may already be preparing to apply under the new FSWP. However, propsective FSWP applicants should be aware that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is expected to announce three important elements of the new FSWP in April 2013, which will have an impact on the application process, including: a cap on the number of applications that will be accepted in the first year; a new list of priority occupations; and the organizations that will be designated to conduct Educational Credential Assessments.

Applicants who prepare their application before this information is announced do so at their own risk. Applications that do not meet the criteria that will be announced in April 2013 will not be processed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Realistically, one of the few advance preparations a prospective FSWP applicant can at this stage take before these further announcements are made, is to get his or her educational credentials ready for assessment. Prospective FSWP applicants will likely have to provide the yet to be announced Educational Credential Assessment organizations with at least the following documents for purposes of credential assessment:

  • Their academic record, showing the courses or subjects studied, the grades earned, and the hours of study or number of credits for each course (may be called a transcript, detailed marks card, releve de notes, examination report, extract, student’s book, index, or other name depending on the country from which it is issued); and
  • The document/s awarded upon completion of the credential (may be called a diploma, diploma, degree certificate, certificate, or other name depending on the country from which it is issued).

If any of the educational documents are not in English or French, they must usually also be accompanied by a complete word-for-word (literal, not interpretive) English translation. If documents are submitted from outside Canada and the applicant cannot obtain a translation from a Canadian-certified translator, that person may usually submit a translation from an official translator in his or her home country. This translation must be completely accurate or the assessment organization will normally require a new translation from a Canadian certified translator.

Items such as mark sheets, transcripts, diplomas, certificates, and grade books must usually also be translated in entirety, including any information that appears on the reverse side of any document. For calendars, course outlines, and syllabuses, only those pages describing courses and other information specific to the relevant credentials normally need to be translated.

Translations may be conducted from original documents or copies of those documents. In either case, the translator must attach to each translation a signed copy of the educational document(s) on which the translation is based. The document copy or copies accompanying the translation will usually be verified against the original documents submitted to the assessment organization. All document copies submitted for evaluation must be stamped with the translator’s official stamp.

In order for the document to be considered official it must usually be sent by the registrar, or other appropriate authority from the educational institution that awarded the credential, directly to assessment organization and must bear the proper seals, signatures, and/or postal marking.

Lastly, is important to note that these new changes will not apply to people who have applied to the FSWP prior to May 4, 2013 with a qualifying arranged job offer or under the PhD stream.

Christopher Elgin has been a member of the British Columbia bar since January of 1988. He worked for the Immigration and Refugee Board as a legal advisor to the Board members for over three years and in 1993 he opened his own immigration law practice. In 1995, he joined forces with Douglas Cannon, another immigration…

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