Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Designated Educational Credential Assessment Organizations Announced

Apr 13
25


Beginning May 4, 2013, applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker Program will be required to submit an Educational Credential Assessment. In accordance with subsection 75(2)(e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations,  assessment of foreign credentials is a requirement even if the applicant does not wish to rely on Education points to meet the minimum 67 immigration points requirement.

There have been four Educational Credential Assessment organizations designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

The Medical Council of Canada has been designated only for those applicants who intend to apply as a specialist or family physician as their primary occupation skilled occupation.

Based on a review of the four designated organizations, it appears that obtaining assessment of a foreign earned credential is going to be a very time consuming and costly process.  Processing times seem to range anywhere from 7 days to 3 months following receipt of a complete application which varies depending on the type of credential and where it was earned. With a cap of 300 applications per occupation, it will be difficult to meet the extensive application requirements in time. The good news is that Credential Assessments issued following April 17, 2013 are good for 5 years.

For more information on any Canadian or US immigration matter, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com or 1-800-993-9971


Posted by Donna Habsha » No Comments »

Changes Made To Minimum Advertising Requirements For All Labour Market Opinion (LMO) Applications

Apr 13
19


Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the governmental body responsible for developing, managing and delivering social programs and services in Canada as well as for protecting Canada’s labour market, has made recent, unannounced changes to its directives for the processing of Labour Market Opinion applications. Specifically, HRSDC has implemented changes to the minimum advertising and recruitment efforts that must be conducted by employers seeking to hire a foreign worker in Canada.

As part of the LMO process, all employers are required to conduct recruitment for a minimum of 14 calendar days in the 3 months immediately preceding the date of the application to appropriately test the local labour market and demonstrate that they have been unable to find a suitably qualified Canadian to fill the position before looking to hire a foreign national. The scope of advertising required is dependent on the nature of and skill level of the position.

Former Recruitment Requirements

Previously, companies seeking to fill a professional or management-level position were required to advertise either on Service Canada’s Job Bank or conduct similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation and industry. Meanwhile, companies seeking to fill a technical or skilled trade occupation were required to do both. In conducting “similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation”, employers have previously relied upon internet job sites, industry journals and newspapers, as well as professional networking sites, company websites, and external headhunting firms or recruitment agencies who are able to conduct industry-specific and executive searches while maintaining a level of discretion for the company (particularly relevant for some companies seeking to hire senior executives).

The New Requirements

With HRSDC’s recent changes, the minimum requirements have become more stringent, particularly when it comes to an appropriate form of recruitment outside of Service Canada’s Job Bank website. Specifically, HRSDC now requires all recruitment to be conducted in a public medium to provide the broadest level of exposure of the vacancy to Canadian citizens and permanent residents:

1.  Management and Professional Occupations – NOC Skill Type 0 and Skill Level A

To meet the minimum advertising requirements set by the Program, employers must conduct public advertising through one or more of the following methods:

  • on recognized Internet employment sites such as Monster, Workopolis; or
  • on the website of a professional association; or
  • in national newspapers, professional journals or newsletters; or
  • on the national Job Bank or its provincial/territorial counterpart in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, or Newfoundland and Labrador

The advertisement must be posted:

  • for a minimum of 14 calendar days starting from the first day the ad appears and is accessible to the general public; and
  • during the 3-month period prior to the employer applying for an LMO

2. Technical and Trade Occupations – NOC Skill Level B
To meet the minimum advertising requirements set by the Program, employers must conduct public advertising through the following methods:

  • on the national Job Bank or its provincial/territorial counterpart in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, or Newfoundland and Labrador AND
  • on recognized Internet employment sites such as Monster or Workopolis; or
  • in local and regional newspapers, newsletters; or
  • in ethnic newspapers and Internet sites; or
  • in local stores, places of worship, community resource centres; or
  • in local and regional employment centres

The advertisement must:

  • be posted for a minimum of 14 calendar days starting from the first day the ad appears and is accessible to the general public; and
  • be posted during the 3 month period prior to the employer applying for an LMO; and
  • include all of the following information/details:
    • Company operating name
    • Business address
    • Title of position
    • Job duties (for each position, if advertising more than one vacancy)
    • Terms of employment (e.g. project based, permanent position)
    • Wage (refer to Wages, Working Conditions and Occupations tab to determine the established rate for the specific commodity)
    • Benefits package being offered (if applicable)
    • Location of work (local area, city or town)
    • Contact information: telephone number, cell phone number, email address, fax number, or mailing address; and
    • Skills requirements, including education and work experience

If HRSDC determines that additional advertising may yield more results from qualified Canadians, they may also require the company to advertise in more locations or for a longer duration.

Proof of Advertising
The above advertising requirements apply for all LMO applications, including those filed through the new Accelerated LMO (A-LMO) initiative. Employers are required to keep records of all recruitment efforts (including copies of advertisements as well as results of their efforts such as applications and notes from the reviewing HR personnel) for a minimum of 6 years. HRSDC may request this information in processing future LMO applications or compliance reviews.

For more information on any Canadian or US immigration matter, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com or 1-800-993-9971


Posted by Melodie Hughes » No Comments »

Additional Details of New Federal Skilled Worker Program Unveiled

Apr 13
18


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) last week released further information regarding changes to the new Federal Skilled Worker Program which will come into effect on May 4, 2013.

By way of background, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is one of the Government of Canada’s main permanent immigration programs. Under this program, applicants are selected based on a points system that assesses applicants’ overall capacity to adapt to Canada’s labour market, based on factors which include: age, education, work experience, proficiency in Canada’s official languages and other criteria that have been shown to help immigrants become economically established in Canada. In June 2012, the Government placed a temporary pause on most new applications to the FSWP while they sought to re-design the program, with the goal of moving towards a faster, more flexible immigration system. It has since been confirmed that the new FSWP will open on May 4, 2013, and last week’s announcement provided some additional details as to the parameters of the new Program.

Key details of the announcement are as follows:

  • A new eligible occupations list, with a total of 24 occupations, has been released and can be found at the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2013/2013-04-18.asp#list.  The eligible occupations stream will be capped at 5,000 applications in total, with sub-caps of 300 applications in each of the 24 eligible occupations.
  • Four organizations have now been designated by CIC to carry out education credentials assessments, which are now mandatory for all FSWP applicants. The list of designated organizations can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2013/2013-04-18.asp#educ.
  • All FSWP applicants must now meet a minimum language threshold of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in all four language skill areas (speaking, reading, writing and oral comprehension), as confirmed by a test report from a designated third-party language testing organizations.
  • Effective May 4, 2013, CIC will no longer accept an Arranged Employment Opinion from Human Resources and Development Canada in support of a FSWP application.  Instead, most Arranged Employment offers will require a Labour Market Opinion.
  • CIC will release new FSWP application forms prior to the Program re-launch on May 4, 2013.

Given the caps on the number of applications to be accepted for processing under the eligible occupations stream, which are significantly lower than the caps implemented in prior years, prospective FSWP applicants should begin preparing their applications for submission as soon as possible after the new Program comes into effect on May 4, 2013.

As the Federal Skilled Worker Program becomes increasingly restrictive, the popularity of other Permanent Residence programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), is likely to grow.  The CEC offers a pathway to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers with high-skilled Canadian work experience.  In order to qualify for permanent residence under the CEC, applicants must have at least 12 months of full-time (or an equal amount in part-time) skilled work experience in Canada in the three years before their application, which must have been gained with the proper authorization.  Applicants must also meet the minimum language thresholds for their occupation.

If you would like to discuss your options for a Permanent Residence Application under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class, we invite you to contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.


Posted by Joy Sisca » No Comments »

Labour Market Opinion Processing Delays Anticipated as Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program Comes Under Scrutiny

Apr 13
16


In the wake of recent media coverage concerning perceived abuses of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Canadian Government has confirmed its commitment to reviewing and reforming the Program to ensure that it is meeting its purpose and that temporary foreign workers are being brought in only where qualified Canadians are genuinely unavailable. While a number of planned reforms to the Labour Market Opinion (‘LMO’) application process, including more stringent advertising requirements, were outlined in last month’s 2013 Federal Budget, calls for reform have taken on greater urgency in the past week, as allegations of widespread Program abuse have flooded the media. Of particular concern, is the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO) process, which was designed to fast-track Labour Market Opinion applications for qualifying employers, but which some believe has opened the Temporary Foreign Worker Program up to greater misuse.

While specifics of the upcoming reforms have yet to be formally announced, it’s clear that changes are imminent and Canadian employers and prospective foreign workers should anticipate heightened scrutiny and potential delays in the processing of foreign worker applications and, in particular, A-LMOs, in the upcoming weeks. Processing of work permit applications at Canadian Immigration offices in and outside of Canada, as well as at Canadian ports of entry, may also be impacted.

For more information on any Canadian or US immigration matter, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com or 1-800-993-9971


Posted by Joy Sisca » No Comments »

RBC Case Puts Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Spotlight

Apr 13
11


Reports emerged over the weekend that 45 RBC employees in Toronto are losing their jobs next month after their employer contracted a number of technological services to iGate, a California-based firm which specializes in sending jobs offshore.

If true, the situation appears to contravene federal regulations that require companies to complete a labour market opinion (LMO) application demonstrating they are unable to fill the positions with Canadian employees before bringing in foreign workers.

In applying for an LMO, there are several conditions employers must follow, including proving the company made adequate recruitment efforts and offered wages in line with the market average. These requirements ensure that foreign workers are not more attractive because they would accept a lower wage. In our experience officers carefully scrutinize each LMO application strictly applying the advertising and wage requirements.

The media has painted a picture that the foreign employees, brought in on federally-approved LMO work permits, are filling positions which could have been filled by Canadians. This seems to oversimplify the situation. RBC has stated it has not broken any rules and affected employees have been redistributed to other parts of the company. Further, moving permanent Canadian employees to new departments will either have a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labour market by creating new jobs as required by federal regulations.

It appears RBC followed the process in place which allows them to hire foreign workers while at the same time serves to protect Canada’s labour market.  Calls to boycott the company seem misplaced. Perhaps it is Human Resources Skills Development Canada, the department which evaluates employer LMO applications, who should be questioned on whether they are meeting their mandate.

For more information on any Canadian or US immigration matter, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com or 1-800-993-9971.


Posted by Donna Habsha » No Comments »

Canada’s New Start-up Visa Program Open for Business

Apr 13
2


Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s new Start-Up Visa Program, designed to fast-track permanent residency for immigrant entrepreneurs with secured funding from designated Canadian investors, officially opened for business on April 1, 2013. According to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minster Jason Kenney, the Start-Up Visa Program is the first of its kind in the world and will help to make Canada a destination of choice for the best and brightest immigrant entrepreneurs, “who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale”.

In order to qualify for a Start-Up Visa, applicants must secure a minimum funding commitment of $200,000 from a designated venture capital organization or $75,000 from a designated angel investor. A complete list of approved venture capital funds and angel investor groups is now available on the Citizenship and Immigration Website. In addition, applicants must demonstrate language proficiency in English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark 5 or greater in listening, speaking, reading and writing, and must provide proof of completion of at least one year of post-secondary education. Evidence of sufficient settlements funds is also required.

This pilot program will run for an initial period of five years, with a maximum of 2,750 applications to be processed per year.

For more information on any Canadian or US immigration matter, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP at pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com or 1-800-993-9971.


Posted by Joy Sisca » No Comments »