Ottawa, December 19, 2012 — The new selection system for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) will take effect on May 4, 2013 at which time the program will re-open for applications, Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
“The government’s number one priority remains jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Kenney. “The new Federal Skilled Worker Program criteria will ensure Canada is selecting the skilled immigrants our economy needs, who are the most likely to succeed and fully realize their potential in Canada.”
The improvements to the FSWP points grid are based on a large body of research which has consistently shown that language proficiency and youth are two of the most important factors in the economic success of immigrants.
The final changes to the FSWP selection criteria include:
•Minimum official language thresholds and increased points for official language proficiency, making language the most important factor in the selection process;
•Increased emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience, are better positioned to adapt to changing labour market conditions, and who will spend a greater number of years contributing to Canada’s economy;
•Introduction of the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), so that education points awarded reflect the foreign credential’s true value in Canada;
•Changes to the arranged employment process, allowing employers to hire applicants quickly, if there is a demonstrated need in the Canadian labour market; and
•Additional adaptability points for spousal language ability and Canadian work experience.
“For too long, too many immigrants to Canada have experienced underemployement and unemployment, and this has been detrimental to these newcomers and to the Canadian economy,” said Minister Kenney. “Our transformational changes to the FSWP will help ensure that skilled newcomers are able to contribute their skills fully to the economy as soon as possible. This is good for newcomers, good for the economy, and good for all Canadians.”
There are two new steps to the new selection system. First, applicants will have to demonstrate that they meet the minimum language threshold, which is level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmark assessment system. Applicants will be able to get a language assessment from existing agencies designated by the Minister and listed on the CIC website.
Second, applicants will have their education credentials assessed prior to arriving in Canada. A list of assessment organizations designated by the Minister will be made available early in the New Year. The assessment of foreign educational credentials will provide prospective newcomers with a more realistic understanding of how their credentials compare to education standards in Canada. It will also give them the opportunity to upgrade their education prior to coming to Canada if they choose.
It is important to note that these changes will not apply to people who have applied to the FSWP prior to May 4, 2013 with a qualifying arranged job offer or under the Ph.D. stream.
As recently announced, due to the actions taken over the past months, new applications under the FSWP will be processed in a few months, rather than a few years. In order to ensure fast processing times and to avoid backlogs, the new FSWP will accept a fixed number of applications each year.
In the medium term, the Government is also moving forward to develop and implement an Expression of Interest (EOI) model, which will provide employers with access to a pool of skilled workers.
Follow us on Twitter (new window to unfollow or login): Follow @CitImmCanada
Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/high-res/index.asp.
Backgrounder — Overview of the New Federal Skilled Worker Program The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) selects immigrants based on their ability to succeed economically in Canada. It measures applicants using a selection grid worth up to 100 points. The current pass mark is 67. Each applicant is awarded points for official language ability, age, education, work experience, employment already arranged in Canada, and adaptability (such as previous work experience or education acquired in Canada).
Following a thorough review of relevant research, an extensive program evaluation, stakeholder and public consultations, research and study of best practices in other immigrant receiving countries, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is introducing a suite of improvements to the FSWP.
What has changed and why:
LANGUAGE: Requiring a minimum level of language proficiency (28 points max.) Canadian and international research has consistently shown that language proficiency is the single most important factor in gaining better rates of employment, appropriate employment and higher earnings.
In light of this, CIC is establishing minimum language requirements and is significantly increasing the maximum points awarded for the applicant’s proficiency in English or French. Language ability is now the most important factor on the grid, representing a total of up to 28 points in recognition of its critical importance in ensuring successful outcomes.
AGE: More emphasis on younger workers (12 points max.) Studies show that younger immigrants integrate more rapidly into the labour market and spend a greater number of years contributing to Canada’s economy. The revised selection grid benefits younger immigrants by awarding a maximum of 12 points up to age 35, with diminishing points awarded from 35 to age 46. There will be no points given after age 46; however, workers aged 47 or older will continue to be eligible for the Program.
EDUCATION: New Educational Credential Assessment (25 points max.) Previously, points were awarded based on the applicant’s educational credentials in their home country and the years of education required to obtain the credential. This did not take into account its comparative value when assessed against Canadian educational credentials.
The new regulations require a mandatory assessment of foreign educational credentials to determine their equivalency to a completed educational credential in Canada. This also helps to screen out fraudulent credentials, as CIC will not accept those that are not equivalent to a completed Canadian educational credential. In summary, education points will be awarded based on the value of the educational credentials in Canada.
The Minister of CIC will designate credential assessment organizations and regulatory bodies to conduct the assessments as part of the immigration selection process. These agencies will be announced in early 2013.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Redirecting points to other factors (15 points max.) Foreign work experience is a weak predictor of success in the Canadian labour market. As a result, CIC is reducing the total number of points for work experience from 21 to 15, and increasing the years of experience required to get full points. These changes better reflect the relative value that Canadian employers place on foreign work experience, and allow extra points to be redirected to the language and age factors, which are better indicators of success in the Canadian labour market.
ARRANGED EMPLOYMENT: Streamlining the process and reducing the potential for fraudulent job offers (10 points max.) The FSWP evaluation showed that people who immigrate with a valid job offer do very well in Canada, earning 79% more in the first three years after arrival than people without arranged employment. However, a more rigorous up-front assessment of the employer and job offer is needed to curb the potential for fraud.
This will be achieved by requiring employers to get a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), issued by Human Resources Development Canada. This will verify that there is a need in the Canadian labour market for this type of worker and that the employer has tried to hire a Canadian or permanent resident first. A benefit for employers is that once they have established this labour market need, they can use the LMO to bring the worker in quickly on a work permit while the worker’s application to immigrate permanently is being processed.
ADAPTABILITY: Changes to reflect factors that help promote integration (10 points max.) CIC is proposing changes to the adaptability criteria to emphasize factors that are shown to have a positive impact on an immigrant and their family’s integration. As employers have shown a preference for workers with Canadian study and work experience, points for previous work experience in Canada will be increased for the principal applicant. Points for previous study in Canada will remain the same.
Feedback from the consultations strongly recommended replacing the points factor for a spouse’s education with points for a spouse’s language proficiency to improve the likelihood of a family’s successful integration. The points for previous spousal study and/or work in Canada, and having relatives in Canada will remain unchanged. Applicants will have more opportunities overall to earn adaptability points, although the total points will remain the same.
Overall, the new and revised FSWP will enable CIC to select younger skilled workers, proficient in English or French, who can integrate more rapidly and successfully into the Canadian labour market and be active members of the work force for a longer period of time. These changes will also assist the government in meeting the goals stated in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012 by building a fast and flexible immigration system whose primary focus is meeting Canada’s economic and labour market needs.
•A 2005 Statistics Canada study found that employment rates of immigrants increased with their ability to speak English and that language proficiency had the biggest impact on their ability to find employment in a high-skilled job or in their intended field.
•In a 2009 Compas Research survey on strategies for integrating internationally educated professionals into the Canadian work force, 87% of employers cited inadequate language skills as the top barrier preventing the foreign-educated from finding suitable employment.
•A 2008 Statistics Canada study found that literacy skills play a role in the wage gap between Canadian-born workers and newcomers to Canada.
•A 2001 academic study Footnote 1 on immigrant earnings in Canada found that on average, the greatest economic gains are realized from immigrants who arrive in Canada between 20 and 30 years old.
•A 2004 academic study Footnote 2 on elderly immigrants in Canada found that migrants aged 45 years and over experience unemployment rates almost double those aged 25 to 34 years.
FootnotesFootnote 1Schaafsma and Sweetman (2001). Immigrant earnings: age at immigration matters.
Return to footnote 1 referrer
Footnote 2Dempsey, C. (2004) Elderly Immigrants in Canada: Income Sources and Self-sufficiency.