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Congratulations to Zoe Cremin, a software engineer originally from Ireland, who last month started working at Sycle.net Technologies Ltd. in Vancouver. Zoe’s case is special because she’s the first provincial nominee to become a permanent resident via Express Entry—the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in this case.

The last month has seen immigration ministers from across Canada getting together to discuss economic immigration. As always seems to be the case, the focus was on ways to improve “labour market outcomes” for new immigrants and ensure that Canada remains a destination of choice for skilled workers seeking to relocate. $1 billion is being invested in settlement services across Canada during 2015-16.

Express Entry (of course) was discussed, as well as the continued importance of PNPs. The aim is to have economic immigrants make up 70% of all Canadian immigrants within the next few years, although no target date has been given. Currently this figure stands at 63%. B.C. Minister, Shirley Bond, is quoted as saying: “with one million job openings anticipated as a result of retirements and economic growth, the Express Entry program will be an important way to help meet our workforce needs.” The situation is likely to be similar across other provinces.

There’s also a push to increase the number of French speakers entering Canada. But for anyone thinking of moving to Quebec, a reminder that their immigration system is completely separate, so they weren’t involved in these discussions at all.

Coming months will see an ongoing series of consultations with the private sector, as well as continued close analysis of labour market data with regards to setting immigration levels. Does this mean that things will be changing again in the not-too-distant future, I wonder. Hopefully not too soon as we’re all still just getting used to Express Entry.

In other immigration news, the Citizenship and Immigration Minister announced that the 50,000th Super Visa has recently been issued. The approval percentage is high for these visas—80% approval and processed within 3 months! Definitely good news for anyone hoping to bring over parents and grandparents for extended stays.

Any finally, to Ontario where the Ontario Immigration Act has recently been passed. This establishes collaboration as a key goal in addressing labour market needs and successful integration of immigrants into all communities across Ontario. Partners will include federal and local governments as well as employers and the non-profit sector. The act also supports the expansion of Ontario’s provincial nominee program.

It’s good to see that economic immigration is high on the agenda right now and that all levels of government—federal, provincial, and territorial—are working together to seek improvements. If you’re thinking of making the move to Canada and have the necessary job skills and experience, now is a good time to be considering your options. Canada definitely wants you!

Express Entry is up and running! Back in November when I first wrote about this scheme, details were sketchy. However, the launch went ahead on January 1st as planned and affects the way applications are processed in the following immigration categories:

Federal Skilled Worker,
Federal Skilled Trades,
Canadian Experience Class.

Once you’ve applied for Express Entry,  your profile is valid for twelve months, after which you have 60 days to resubmit. Any later than that and you’ll need to send in a completely new profile. To be accepted into the “express entry pool,” you have to meet the requirements of at least one of the above mentioned immigration streams.

If you don’t already have a job offer from a Canadian employer, or a nomination from a province or territory (via the Provincial Nominee Scheme), you’ll also be required  to register for the government Job Bank site.

Once you’re “in the pool,” you stand a chance of being invited to apply for permanent residency. Regular “draws” will take place throughout the year to select applicants. Those invited to apply will be those considered the best qualified to match current labour market needs.

Candidates are ranked via the Comprehensive Ranking System. This is a points system based on education, work experience and skills, and language ability. The knowledge and skills of your spouse are also taken into account. If you’re a qualified candidate with a Canadian job offer, or you’re being nominated through the PNP, you’re in prime position and guaranteed the first chances to apply.

If you receive a coveted invitation, you then have 60 days to send in your application for permanent residency plus the all-important application fee. The promise is that “the majority of” express entry applications will be processed within 6 months. We will see!

Also new in 2015 – specially for all those millionaires reading my blog :) – is the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital program. The time-frame for applications is ridiculously short (Jan 28 – Feb 11), but only 60 immigrants are being accepted initially through this pilot scheme. If judged successful, it’ll then be expanded. Apparently the old scheme, rife with accusations of fraud, was labelled as “cash for citizenship,” so it’s not surprising they’re going for a relaunch.

For most of us though, Express Entry is the main focus and it’ll be interesting to see whether it delivers on its promises. Have you applied through Express Entry? Do you think it makes it easier or harder for potential immigrants to get into Canada?

It seems like every time I’ve finally wrapped my brain around the current  immigration system, the Canadian government decides to tinker with the process some more. So it was with this year’s Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, presented on October 28th.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, reported that Canada plans to welcome 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2014 with an increased intake of immigrants in the “economic” classes; up to almost one third of the overall total. It’s great news for people applying through the PNP and Canadian Experience categories as their intake numbers will be up next year.

Also announced was a brand new scheme which will come into force from 2015: Expressions of Interest or EOI.  Rather than sending in a fully-fledged immigration application, you will instead “express your interest” in moving to Canada, hence the name. At this initial stage, applicants  will provide information on their skills and experience. This information will then be  stored and ranked against that of other candidates. Only the best candidates will be invited to apply for a visa; “best” being defined as those candidates whose skills and experience most closely match current labour market needs in Canada.

On the surface at least, this sounds like a sensible scheme. Immigrants who arrive here with a pre-arranged job offer can expect financial stability and a much easier transition than arriving here without work. For so long there have been too many stories of well-qualified immigrants forced into taking  jobs as cleaners, taxi drivers etc. Maybe this new scheme can start to change that.

The potential downside is that applicants (or “expressors of interest”?—they need to work on that one) could be left in limbo in “the pool” for a long time, wondering if their application will be picked up or eventually kicked off the list. It sounds a bit like the old “we’ll keep your resume on file and contact you if anything suitable comes up” brush-off. With the current system, at least (eventually) you’ll get a definite yes or no.

Of course it’s too early to really dissect this when we have so few details. Will EOI replace all of the existing economic immigration streams or just some of them? Will it apply in Quebec too? We don’t yet know. But regardless, the introduction of this scheme is indicative of the increased emphasis on matching immigrants’ job skills with regional labour market demands.  The government’s message to prospective immigrants is clear: it’s time to think outside of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Be prepared for more changes ahead.

News Release — Planning for Success, Putting Canada First

 

With current processing times for visa applications getting ever longer, it’s easy to understand why applicants for Canadian immigration become so disheartened. Having had a two and a half year wait between application and finally moving to Canada, I can certainly sympathise and remember all too vividly just how hard it was. The lucky few make it over earlier on temporary works visas, but this is just not possible for the majority. So what’s the best way of coping during the long wait and how can you make productive use of your time?

First of all, don’t completely put your life on hold. It might be several years before you get to Canada, and you can’t pin your whole existence on waiting for news. Use the time to catch up with friends and family you might not have seen in a while, visit all those places nearby that you always meant to see, but have never got round to. For anyone living in Europe, you might decide to take the chance to visit some European countries relatively easily and cheaply while you’re still over there. (European travel becomes a very expensive endeavor once you’re here.)All that said, you also need a balance with preparing for your future life in Canada.

Aside from possible vacations or research trips to Canada (everyone needs a break :)), try and save as much money as possible. My husband and I were relying on the equity in our house for our settlement funds, but ended up receiving a far lower price than anticipated. We wished then that we’d saved more and been far more focused on what was ahead of us.

Think carefully before buying new household items, particularly electronic ones. Ask yourself:

Will it work in Canada?
Do I really need it?
Would I take it with me?

If you have a house you plan to sell, start on any renovations early on and work on them in stages at your leisure. I’m speaking from experience here, as we ended up trying to get everything done on a crazy schedule in just a few months!

Ultimately, don’t ever give up. I reached rock bottom during the delay with our medical results, then again the following year when our house in England took so long to sell and my husband and I were living in different countries for six months. But I got through it, and so will you. For some of you, moving to Canada may still seem a very long way in the future, but you will make it!