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Skilled immigrants fare well in Canada

Immigrants selected by the federal government under the current skilled worker program are contributing to Canada’s economy, a new evaluation has found.

The evaluation measured whether the current federal skilled worker program is selecting immigrants who are more likely to succeed economically in Canada. In 2009, federal skilled workers made up approximately 10 per cent of Canada’s annual immigration intake – 25 per cent when one includes spouses and dependent children.

According to the evaluation, the biggest predictors of an immigrant’s economic success are having a job already arranged in Canada when applying; the ability to speak English or French; and having worked in Canada before applying to immigrate. Having studied in Canada for at least two years and having a relative in Canada are less of a determinant of success.

“The evaluation showed that skilled immigrants are doing well in Canada and filling gaps in our work force,” said Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney. “This puts some dents in the doctors-driving-taxis stereotype.”

The findings revealed that the selection criteria, put in place when the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) became law, have been successful in improving the outcomes of skilled immigrants by placing more emphasis on arranged employment, language and education. Income for skilled workers selected under the IRPA criteria was as much as 65 per cent higher than for workers chosen under the pre-IRPA system. Skilled workers who already had a job offer when they applied for permanent residence fared best of all, earning on average $79,200 three years after arriving in Canada.

Among other recommendations, the evaluation suggested placing higher priority on younger workers, and increasing the integrity of the arranged employment part of the program, which is susceptible to fraud. The evaluation also recommended that further emphasis be placed on fluency in English or French, and supported the Minister’s June 2010 decision to require language testing for federal skilled worker applicants to combat fraud.

“We’re pleased the evaluation showed that the program is working as intended,” said Minister Kenney. “We’re committed to making it even better and will be consulting on improvements in the coming weeks.”

Canada is planning to put forward several proposals for public consultation to improve the immigration process.

Posted: Feb 3, 2011

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