Canada: Changes to Federal Permanent Residence Programs Announced

New instructions revise caps and eligible occupations for federal immigrant worker programs.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has released new instructions regarding the processing of applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The changes are seen as preparation for the 2015 launch of “Express Entry” and focus on the number of applications accepted under each of the aforementioned programs as well as lists of eligible occupations. These new instructions take effect May 1, 2014.

The FSWP grants permanent residency to immigrant workers based on points awarded in six different categories: education, English proficiency, work experience, age, arranged employment, and adaptability. The new instructions issued by CIC provide for an overall cap of 25,000 applications filed under the FSWP-eligible occupations stream. The number of eligible occupations has been raised from 24 to 50. Additionally, a subcap of 1,000 applications applies to each of the 50 eligible occupations under the FSWP. A cap of 500 applications is imposed on the Ph.D. eligibility stream, while applicants who have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer are exempt from the cap (they may apply for permanent residency even after the cap of the relevant occupation has been reached).

The FSTP is designed for foreign workers who are eligible to apply for permanent residency in Canada based on their qualifications in a skilled trade. For the processing year starting May 1, 2014, CIC will accept no more than 5,000 complete federal skilled trade applications. All 90 skilled trades from the National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Level B groups are eligible under the new guidelines, and a subcap of 100 applies to each category.

Last, the new instructions provide for an overall cap of 8,000 applications that will be accepted under the CEC program, subject to a subcap of 200 for each NOC B occupation. CIC also reiterated that work experience gained in six occupations (i.e., administrative officers and assistants, etc.) cannot be used for CEC eligibility. In November 2013, CIC introduced an annual cap of 12,000 CEC applications. It is estimated that CIC has received in excess of 6,000 applications toward the cap as of early April 2014.

In summary, the instructions will provide Canadian employers with more flexibility to hire talent from abroad. The overall caps for the FSWP and the FSTP were increased to 25,000 and 5,000 from 5,000 and 3,000, respectively, during the last processing year. Furthermore, the resetting of the cap for CEC applications will mean an increase in the number of available applications under the program.

This Alert has been prepared by Morgan Lewis’s Global Immigration Practice in collaboration with co-counsel in Canada.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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