Changes Keep Coming: The Federal Skilled Worker Stream

These last few months have seen more changes to the immigration system than have occured in the last few years.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that changes are contemplated to the system whereby only widowed parents may be sponsored, investment amounts will increase for the investment category, and employers will play a greater role in selecting workers in future.

Now, the Minister has announced coming changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program.  This program is the foundational program for skilled and educated individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada without working here first, or arranging for employment before their arrival.  It is has been a mainstay of the immigration system for many years, with a complex point scoring system based on a variety of factors, such as education, language, work experience, relations in Canada, adaptability and so forth.

The Minister has stated that this program will see profound changes later in 2012.

The good news is that processing times should increase dramatically, as some occupations will be designated as “priority” occupations and will receive immediate attention by visa officers.  This will push a large number of applications to the top of the waiting queue.

However, the bad news is that new regulations will be applied retroactively to existing applications.  My guess is that we may well see a repeat of the “pre-2008″ applications that were summarily rejected by the government.  New regulations will target needed occupations, but put an end to countless applications in occupations that are not considered needed or particularly valuable at this time.

The Minister states that the new rules will ensure that Canada’s current labour needs are met.  However, it will be profoundly unfair to dismiss applications already submitted in good faith under the skilled worker program.  This may put a cloud over Canada’s immigration system in the eyes of potential immigrants – some may be reluctant to apply in future facing a possible risk that their application could be rejected under new policy guidelines and under no fault of their own.

It will be very interesting to see how these new skilled worker rules play-out.  This is an exciting and challenging time for the immigration system, and policy choices today will determine the nature and make-up of Canada’s labour force now and into the future.

Click here to read more about the potential changes coming later this year.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile