Changes to Canadian Immigration Benefit Employers

The federal government has recently made several significant changes to Canadian immigration policies that will result in benefits to employers.

In respect of temporary workers, changes have been made to allow certain workers to receive a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) work permit for a duration of three years, instead of one year. American and Mexican workers who want to work in Canada temporarily and who meet the eligibility criteria in one of over 60 identified professions will be able to apply for the new, longer permits. This change will make it easier for Canadian employers to employ skilled temporary workers for longer periods of time.

Important changes have also been made to permanent worker programs. One such change arises from the introduction of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The CEC creates a new way for temporary foreign workers and international students with Canadian work experience to continue their employment by securing permanent residency in Canada.

The CEC sets up a pass-fail system, rather than a point system, for workers who meet certain work or student experience requirements. The pass-fail system means that applicants possessing benchmark language skills and the requisite work and/or student experience will pass, and obtain permanent residency shortly thereafter. The CEC ensures that Canadian work experience is the key selection factor for applicants in the class.

Under the CEC, temporary foreign workers who have had at least two years of Canadian professional, managerial or skilled work experience will qualify for permanent residency. International graduates from certain Canadian post-secondary programs will also be entitled to apply for immigration if they have had at least one year of full-time work experience in a professional, managerial or skilled position. Qualified applicants may apply while still living in Canada, or within one year after having left the country.

The creation of the CEC provides many benefits to the Canadian labour market in general, and to employers that employ skilled foreign workers specifically. By making it faster and easier for certain temporary workers to attain permanent residency, the CEC encourages skilled and educated workers to remain in Canada and helps employers retain the talent they need. In addition, since qualified applicants may now apply for permanent residency without leaving Canada, their employers can enjoy the benefit of a continuous employment relationship, uninterrupted by a lengthy application process.

In addition to creating a new class for workers with Canadian experience, the federal government has also introduced changes to the point system for other skilled workers who do not have Canadian experience. Bill C-50 reintroduces an occupation list, and creates three categories of workers whose applications will receive expedited processing. The categories include workers with at least one year of experience in one of 38 high-

demand occupations in management or the skilled trades, workers with pre-arranged employment, and workers who have been working or studying in Canada for at least one year. The introduction of an expedited process should result in immigration being more responsive to the needs of the Canadian marketplace and Canadian employers.