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Transforming Canada’s economic immigration programs

A major next step in building a fast and flexible immigration system will be the creation of a pool of skilled workers ready to begin employment in Canada. Inspired by an approach developed by New Zealand – and now also being used in Australia – an Expression of Interest application system is the model Canada plans to use to create this pool of skilled workers.

Under an Expression of Interest system – or EOI – prospective immigrants fill in an online form indicating their “interest” in coming to a host country as permanent residents. The form can include information that relates to, for example, language proficiency, work experience and assessed education credentials.

Assigned a points score and ranked, these expressions of interest would then be entered into a pool from which candidates that best match a country’s national and regional skills needs can be drawn and invited to submit an immigration application, subject to priority processing.

In effect, the EOI form submitted by a prospective immigrant is not an application itself but the first stage in the assessment of a potential candidate. Not all candidates who file an expression of interest are invited to apply for a permanent resident visa.

Consultations with provinces, territories and stakeholders on the development of an EOI system for Canada are underway. Of interest to CIC is the potential for a larger role for employers in the immigration program, leveraged through EOI.

As part of ongoing consultations, CIC has held roundtables with employers in a number of cities to discuss how such a system could help meet employer needs. A report on these recent discussions will be available on the consultations section of the CIC website soon.

With the elimination of the Federal Skilled Worker backlog, CIC anticipates being able to move to an EOI system that will: avoid the build-up of inventories and improve processing times; and make the immigration system more responsive to labour market needs and increase the likelihood of skilled immigrants’ success.

Canada maintains record levels of immigration to support economic growth in 2013.

CIC plans to maintain immigration levels of between 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2013, for the seventh straight year. This represents the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history.
While highlighting elements of the annual immigration levels plan, CIC Minister Jason Kenney also drew attention to the progress being made in reducing the backlog of applications in the Federal Skilled Worker program. This will pave the way for a faster, more flexible economic immigration program. Progress has also been made in reducing the backlog of applications in the Parent and Grandparent program.

Another highlight of the 2013 Immigration Levels Plan was the increased room given to the popular Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The CEC, which was created in 2008, facilitates the transition from temporary to permanent residence for those with high-skilled work experience in Canada, including international students and temporary foreign workers. Admissions under the CEC have increased from about 2,500 people in 2009 to a planned level of up to 10,000 permanent residents next year.

Posted: Jan 31, 2013

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