Business immigration law embraces legal services to companies transferring personnel, requiring temporary visas and work permits for their workers, and seeking counsel on inward investment and immigration programs.
FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAW
In August 2012, Canada's federal government announced an overhaul of the system that governs economic-based immigration to Canada, the Federal Skilled Worker Class. In doing so, the government acknowledged that “the current economic immigration selection criteria do not adequately respond to Canada's evolving labour market needs.”
The changes, effective as of January 1, 2013, alter the profile of skilled workers by reforming the Federal Skilled Worker Points System; create a distinct program, the Federal Skilled Trades Class, that targets skilled tradespersons; and make it easier for individuals on work permits to achieve permanent residence.
Federal Skilled Worker Points System Reform
Under the previous regime, successful applicants had to score at least 67 points on the 100-point system. Points were awarded for specific qualifications including education, work experience, language ability, age and adaptability.
Under the new system, where the number of applications accepted are capped, 67 points remains the minimum, but points for language ability in either English or French rise from 16 to 24, while points for second-language proficiency drop from eight to four. The revised program also features a Canadian Language Benchmark of “adequate intermediate proficiency.”
There is also a renewed emphasis on younger workers. Individuals aged 18 to 35 will receive up to 12 points, the same number that was previously awarded to those between the ages of 21 and forty-nine. While there is no age limit for applicants to the FSWC program, points will diminish until the age of 46.
Foreign work experience credits will decrease from 21 to 15. Maximum points will obtain at six full years of previous experience, as opposed to four under the old system. Individuals whose credentials are not recognized in Canada will not be eligible.
Under the changes, 10 points are the maximum awarded for Canadian work experience, and five for study in Canada. Language skills, rather than education, are now the criterion for spousal adaptability. Relatives in Canada will attract points for applicants only if they are at least 18 years old.
The changes also create a new system of securing “Arranged Employment Offers.” Canadian employers seeking to hire FSWC applicants will have to secure a Labour Market Opinion that can attract up to 15 points if it is positive or neutral.
These changes will not affect other immigration programs such as The Québec Skilled Worker Program and the Family Class Sponsorship Program.
New Federal Skilled Trades Class
This new class, which operates on a pass or fail system rather than a points system, is open to industrial, electrical and construction trades; maintenance and equipment operation trades; supervisors and technical occupations in natural resources; agriculture and related production processing, manufacturing, and utilities supervisors; central control operators; chefs and cooks; and bakers and butchers.
To qualify, applicants must have a qualifying offer of employment of at least one year or a certificate of qualification from a provincial or territorial authority; language proficiency meeting the “initial intermediate” Benchmark; 24 months' work experience in the skilled trade during the past five years; and appropriate professional qualifications. Individuals who do not meet all these requirements may otherwise be eligible to apply under the FSWC or other Canadian or provincial immigration programs.
Canadian Experience Class Revisions
It will now be easier for this class, which is designed for international workers and students in Canada, to apply for permanent residence through a streamlined process. The primary changes involve reducing the Canadian work component from 24 to 12 of the previous 36 months and the introduction of an “initial intermediate” minimum language threshold.
QUÉBEC IMMIGRATION LAW
The December 2011 announcement by the Government of Québec that standardized French language tests would be mandatory in all Québec Skills Worker Program application represented the first step in the program's overhaul.
The government followed by dividing QSW applicants into three groups, a measure that went into effect in March 2012 and will remain in place for at least one year.
Group 1, which includes seven types of applicants such as temporary foreign workers and applicants who score 12 to 16 on the Québec Selection Grid, has no limits on the number of applications; Group 2, limited to individuals with training or study in targeted professions as well as those pursuing a degree in Québec or its equivalent outside the province, is limited to 14,300 applicants. The third group, who are not eligible for immigration to Québec at this time, embraces anyone who does not fall within the first two groups.
Another reform allows employers who have received a positive Labour Market Opinion for an employee within the past two years to have their future LMO applications expedited so that qualified application will receive an Opinion within 10 days of applying.