Great news for skilled newcomers arriving in Canada! On February 22nd, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada introduced the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot, a 3- year initiative to help have trained and skilled professionals have their qualifications recognized in Canada. “Our government’s top priority is job creation and economic growth,” said Minister Finley. “In the Economic Action Plan, we made a commitment to help internationally trained professionals cover the costs of having their credentials recognized. Today we are delivering on that commitment.”
This relieves a huge gap for skills newcomers to Canada, who receive permanent residency based on their qualifications, yet cannot find jobs that are related to the very skills that approved them for PR and are needed in the country.
Here are some figures. The Longitudinal Survey of immigrants to Canada (LSIC) data, published in 2005 by the Minister of Industry, provides information specific to skilled immigrants and their intended occupations. Of the 57,600 immigrants entering as skilled principal applicants under the economic class, 22,000 intended to find skilled work in natural and applied sciences. However, after six months, only 12,900 were employed. 38% were in their intended occupation, while 62% were in lower skilled occupations, such as clerical and technical positions in natural and applied sciences; in sales and service positions, or in manufacturing (Minister of Industry, 2005).
Although there are many reasons why newcomers may not find themselves in a position that is not relevant or lower than their previous experience, providing recognition support is critical and will only aid in their individual success and our society as a whole.
On February 16, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced a new bill, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, aimed to protect the integrity of the Canadian immigration system by making changes to the asylum system passed in J2010 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. The Canadian government’s goal would have several purposes, but most importantly to provide faster protection to approved refugees and faster removal of those who are denied refugee status. There are several changes that will affect all refugee claimants, both claims that are currently pending and those in the future. The bill must be passed in parliament still before coming into effect.
Source: “Facts and Figures 2010” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2012), Graph by Author
Faster Processing times for Designated Countries of Origin
Refugee claimants from a list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), determined by the Minster of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will be processed in 45 days. DCO will be countries that do not normally produce refugees, which are currently mostly European Union countries. The government gave the example of the 4,900 Hungarian refugee claims last year, of which only 2% were accepted, and many were abandon and withdrawn. All other claimants would be processed in 216 days.
Limited Appeal Rights at the Refugee Appeal Division
When the 2002 Immigration Refugee Protection Act was enacted, the Immigration Refugee and Protection Board included a fourth division, the Refugee Appeal Division. Although the division has not been implemented yet, it will allow failed refugee claimants to appeal the negative decision. Under the proposed Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, not all refugee claimants that have been refused will have access to the Refugee Appeal Division. Those that will not have access to the Appeal division, nor have an automated stay of removal, are denied claimants that:
- Are from Designated Countries of Origin
- Fall under the Safe Third Country Agreement (currently claimants that claim refugee at a Canada-USA land border crossing)
- Were designated irregular arrivals
- Made a refugee claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board before the Refugee Appeal Division comes into effect (i.e. those in backlog)
- Made an application to end a person’s protected person status (i.e., cessation or vacation of protected person status)
- Made manifestly unfounded claims, with no credible basis
The right to apply to the Federal Court for a review of the negative decision will remain.
Timely Removals from Canada
Currently it takes an average of five years to remove a failed refugee claimant from Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada wants to improve the speed that removals of denied refugee claims occur. There are several proposed measures. One measure is to prevent denied refugee claimants from accessing Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration for one year. Additionally, they will not be allowed to submit a Humanitarian and Compassionate application while their refugee claim is pending. They would be allowed to withdraw their refugee cause to apply for H&C.
Serious Criminals unable to make a Claim
Under the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, serious criminals will not have access to the Immigration and Refugee Board to make a refugee claim in Canada.
Biometric Data for Temporary Resident Applicants
The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act will allow the Canadian government to collect biometric data of temporary resident visa applicants, study permit applicants and work permit applicants. Biometric data includes fingerprints and digital photos. The goal is to reduce the number of fraudulent identity documents.
Other Proposed Changes
- Hearing by public servant decision makers according to proposed time lines: within 30 days for inland DCO claimants; 45 days for Port of Entry DCO claimants; and 60 days for all non-DCO claimants.
- No subsequent Pre-Removal Risk Assessment for one year following negative decision.
- Refugee claims cannot be re-opened once a decision has been made at the higher level (i.e. Refugee Appeal Division or Federal Court)
Criticism of New Act
Given the total processing times before a decision is made, the increasing number of abandoned or refused refugee claims and the many years it may take to remove a failed refugee claimant, there is an urgent need to improve Canada’s Refugee System. While the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act proposes several measures to address these issues, it is not without its criticisms. These include:
- Restricting access to the Refugee Appeal Division may result in the persecution of genuine refugees
- The elimination of a committee of independent experts that would advise the government on the “safe country” list may allow political pressures to stand in the way of a fair, judicial process
- The Act gives too much power to the Minister and for decisions to be politically motivated
- Short processing times may prevent refugee claimants from having adequate time to prepare their cases or to appeal refused cases
For more information, visit:
Citizenship and Immigration CanadaGlobal and Mail
Blog by: Heather Bell
In the past half-century, Vancouver has moved from a resource to knowledge-based economy that is highly entrepreneurial and ‘green’ focused. In 2007, it was designated one of the ‘Smart21’ cities by the Intelligent Community Forum in New York for its growing innovative and expanding high technology industry (WelcomeBC, 2011). The city also ranked in the top six of best entrepreneur cities among developed countries by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 2008 (Invest in Canada, 2011).
Entrepreneurship is largely evident in the clean technology sector. This is a young, fast growing knowledge-based sector where 68% of the clean technology companies are small to medium sized and established in the past 10 years. This field alone was forecasted to grow to 8,400 employees in 2011, up 16.5% from 2010 (Simpson, 2011).
The growth of Vancouver’s clean technology sector is well aligned with Vancouver’s goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. The city’s focus is to develop and expand eight different sectors, ranging from green buildings products, waste management and recycling, environmental consulting, sustainability sectors to education. Currently there are 12,000 jobs within these sectors and the government intends to double this by 2020 (City of Vancouver, 2011). Undoubtedly many of these new jobs will require workers from high-skilled areas such as science, technology and engineering.
BC has adopted provincial immigration programs that aim to address the growing labour concerns in these fields. “We are not graduating enough science-oriented individuals at the moment and we’ve got a great demand, and this is where the [Provincial Nominee Program] actually comes in really handy,” said Vancouver Board of Trade CEO, Iain Black (Carmen, 2011).
There are two programs that bring workers with natural and applied sciences backgrounds to BC under the Provincial Nominee Program. The first is similar to the federal skilled worker program, where foreign nationals must have a BC employer offering them a valid job within one of the skilled categories on the National Occupation List. The second program is a three-year pilot for international graduates of a masters or doctorate degree in the natural, applied or health sciences. These graduates are not required to have a job offer to obtain permanent residency. This pilot was implemented in 2010 specifically to address the province’s skilled labour shortage in these industries (WelcomeBC, 2011).
There are also temporary work permit options for skilled foreign nationals. All international students graduating from a recognized Canadian post-secondary institute are eligible for a postgraduate work permit valid up to three years. Employers can also sponsor a skilled foreign worker for a temporary work permit. The employer must apply for a positive labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resource and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and prove that they have been unsuccessful in finding a Canadian or permanent resident already in Canada for the job. While these are temporary options, they can lead to permanent residency (CIC, 2011).
While recruiting international graduates and skilled workers can offer one solution to the province’s labour shortage concerns, it’s important that these programs are accessible to employers and provide a reasonable turnaround time in terms of application processing. Given that majority of businesses in BC are micro to small businesses, their limited knowledge or access to recruitment options, as well as their lack of time and resources, must be taken into consideration when the provincial government develops these programs. Educating employers about these programs is key, as well as making information and applications easily accessible to the small business owner.
Due to the ongoing violence in Syria, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced the temporary closure of the Syrian Visa Post – the office responsible for temporary and permanent residency applications of people in Syria and neighboring countries. The Jordan visa office is now taking applications from Iraq, while Turkey is accepting applications from Iran. People in Syria can apply for temporary resident applications – temporary resident visa, work permit, study permits – at the Lebanon or Jordan embassy. “The situation in Syria is too volatile and we need to find a more permanent solution for processing applications in the area,” commented Minister Kenney. Syria will reopen and resume services to people in Syria as soon is it is safe to do so. To read more, go to: CIC Media Centre
Minister Jason Kenney announced that the government plans to change the current point system for skilled immigrants applying for permanent residence under the Skilled Worker and Professional Program. The current point system favors applicants with university degrees, but this policy change would alter the focus to trade-oriented workers. This is good news for foreign nationals in the trades field that have very little chance of being selected, yet are highly valuable to our economy. However, as the NDP MP highlighted, the government needs to be doing more to take advantage of the Canadians and Permanent Residents in Canada, by focusing on apprenticeship and training programs. To read more, visit the Vancouver Sun.
BC’s Premier Christy Clark has announced the creation of an Immigration Task Force to assess the current immigration programs and determine ways to simplify the process for foreign nationals wanting to immigrate to BC. This is promising news for the BC Provincial Nominee Program. Already the Provincial