Thursday, January 3, 2013

Canada begins new immigration program to accept skilled foreign workers

Canada began accepting applications from skilled foreign workers Wednesday under a new program to address labor shortages in parts of the country.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement that the new Skilled Trades Program will address serious labor shortages that some regions of the country are facing, and will help grow Canada's economy.

"These long-overdue changes are part of the government's plan to build a fast and flexible immigration system that is responsive to the needs of Canada's economy," he said.

Under the program, Canada will accept applications from up to 3,000 skilled tradespersons in 43 occupations, including electricians, welders, heavy-duty equipment mechanics and pipe-fitters.

To qualify for the program, foreign applicants need to have an employment offer in Canada, or a certificate of qualification from a province or one of Canada's three territories ensuring they are "job ready" upon their arrival.

Applicants must also be able to demonstrate proficiency in one of Canada's two official languages - English and French - as well as have a minimum of two years of work experience as a skilled tradesperson, and show they have performed the essential duties of their occupation.

Meanwhile, Kenney has said that a new Web-based Expression of Interest (EOI) system will be implemented to match would-be international employees with Canadian employers.

In the system, prospective immigrants complete online application forms highlighting their language proficiency, work experience and educational credentials.

Kenney said in an interview with the Globe and Mail daily that these EOI forms would then be assigned a points score, ranked and entered into a pool from which candidates that best match Canada's national and regional skills can be drawn and are then invited to submit an immigration application, "subject to priority processing."

The system will operate "like a dating site," he said.

Inspired by an approach developed by New Zealand and now also being used in Australia, Canada's EOI application system will also allow the government to choose newcomers based on how they can benefit Canada.

Not all candidates who file an EOI will be invited to apply for permanent residence.


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