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Major Canadian Immigration Changes: Summer 2010 Alert

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The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") has introduced
some substantial changes through July 26, 2010 Ministerial Instructions that
affect (i) the Federal Skilled Worker Class ("FSW"), the Canadian Experience
Class ("CEC") and (ii) the Investor Immigration Program ("IIP"). The main
changes are
1. a new list of 29 occupations in demand, down from a list of 38
occupations;
2. language testing for every CEC and FSW applicant, with no exceptions;
3. Elimination of the simplified process such that now all applications must
be submitted in full. All incomplete FSW and CEC applications will be
returned to the client;
4. Removal of FSW Stream 3 (previously working or studying in Canada for
one year); and
5. Doubling of financial thresholds for the IIP.

All of these changes are discussed in detail below.
(I) Federal Skilled Worker applications
CIC is now receiving more FSW applications than it can process and accept each
year and the backlog has been growing after an initial slowdown after the "C-50"
Ministerial Instruction of November 2008.
Background: C-50 Changes
In November 2008, the government introduced major changes to the processing
and eligibility of FSW applicants. Unless the applicant met the requirements of Bill
C-50 , the applicant would need to apply for a category other than the FSW (point
system). More specifically, prior to these changes, a foreign national could apply
under any National Occupation Classification ("NOC") O, A or B occupation
(managerial, professional, or skilled trades areas).
The 2008 Ministerial Instructions created three eligible skilled worker streams,
namely for individuals:
with at least a year of work experience in one of 38 "high demand"
occupations, which cut across numerous industry sectors and skill levels,
but all within NOC codes A, B, and O – ("Stream 1");
with "arranged employment", requiring either an existing work permit with
an established company or business, or an arranged employment opinion
("AEO") – ("Stream 2"); and
working or studying in Canada for at least a year – ("Stream 3").
Applicants meeting one of the three streams had to be pre-approved as a first
step, through the Centralized Intake Office ("CIO"). The applicant only had to
submit the full application package at Stage 2. Passing the first step at the CIO
allowed the visa office abroad to process the application. During the second step
at the visa office abroad, the candidate would still have been required to meet the
67 point threshold, along with all other regulatory requirements.
June 26, 2010 Changes:
CIC has set a maximum of 20,000 FSW applications annually (without an offer of
arranged employment), with a maximum of 1,000 in any of the 29 occupations
(see the list below). CIC argues that a cap is the only guaranteed way to limit the
number of applications it receives, and that without the cap on applications, the
backlog and processing times will only get longer.
FSW applications will continue to be processed through the CIO in Sydney, Nova
Scotia. The submission must include all documents relating to the application, as
the simplified application has been eliminated. All fully completed applications
received by the CIO must meet either of the following two criteria:
a) Stream 1 – Applications from skilled workers with evidence of one year of
continuous full-time (or equivalent) paid work experience in the last ten
years under one or more of the 29 NOC codes (up to a maximum of
20,000 new, complete applications per year with no more than 1,000
applications in any one NOC category); or
b) Stream 2 – Applications submitted with arranged employment (where
there will be no cap on applications).
Stream 3 (temporary foreign workers and international students living in Canada
for one year) no longer exists. Students and temporary foreign workers applying
under the FSW class must now meet the criteria of the two other streams above,
in order to be eligible for processing, or apply through other categories such as
CEC, or a provincial nominee program.
Eligible NOC codes as of June 26, 2010
1. Restaurant and Food Service Managers;
2. 0811 Primary Production Managers (Except Agriculture);
3. 1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management;
4. 1233 Insurance Adjusters and Claims Examiners;
5. 2121 Biologists and Related Scientists;
6. 2151 Architects;
7. 3111 Specialist Physicians;
8. 3112 General Practitioners and Family Physicians;
9. 3113 Dentists;
10. 3131 Pharmacists;
11. 3142 Physiotherapists;
12. 3152 Registered Nurses;
13. 3215 Medical Radiation Technologists;
14. 3222 Dental Hygienists & Dental Therapists;
15. 3233 Licensed Practical Nurses;
16. 4151 Psychologists;
17. 4152 Social Workers;
18. 6241 Chefs;
19. 6242 Cooks;
20. 7215 Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades;
21. 7216 Contractors and Supervisors, Mechanic Trades;
22. 7241 Electricians (Except Industrial & Power System);
23. 7242 Industrial Electricians;
24. 7251 Plumbers;
25. 7265 Welders & Related Machine Operators;
26. 7312 Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics;
27. 7371 Crane Operators;
28. 7372 Drillers & Blasters — Surface Mining, Quarrying & Construction; and
29. 8222 Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service.

See http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2006/Welcome.aspx for the NOC
job descriptions and educational requirements applicable to these occupations.
Due to CIC's limit or the number of applications, Stream 1 applications should be
submitted as soon as possible. The process is now based on a "first come, first
serve" principle: as soon as the cap in that occupation has been reached, no
further applications will be processed, and all new application packages and the
processing fees will be returned. For the unique purpose of calculating the caps,
the first year will begin on June 26, 2010, and end on June 30, 2011. Subsequent
years will be calculated from July 1st to June 30th, unless otherwise indicated in a
future Ministerial Instruction.
Language requirements
Every new FSW and CEC applicant is required to include the results of an English
or French language test as part of their application. There are no exceptions to
this rule, regardless of nationality, current residency or educational background.
English language tests can be taken under IELTS (www.ielts.org) or CELPIP
(www.ares.ubc.ca/CELPIP/index.html). The CELPIP option only applies to the
FSW, not the CEC class. French tests can be taken through JEF
(www.fda.ccip.fr).
(II) Investor Class applications
The Ministerial Instructions of June 2010 propose a doubling of the investment
and net worth levels, without any charge in the process.
Background:
Currently, an applicant under the IIP must meet the definition of an "Investor", and
the minimum points required (points are rarely an issue under the IIP). An
"Investor" is currently defined as a foreign national who:
has had business experience (a test which can be met/through certain
managerial or entrepreneurial experience);
had a legally obtained net worth of at least CAD$800,000; and,
indicated in writing to an officer that s/he intended to make or had made
an investment of at least CAD$400,000 with an approved facilitator
(financial institution). The applicant's investment was returned after a
five-year period, without interest. There were alternatives to paying the
entire CAD$400,000, through facilitators financing plans . Such plans
cost approximately CAD$125,000, without any funds being returned to
the Investor after 5 years..

June 26, 2010 Changes:
The proposed regulatory amendments, anticipated to come into force in the Fall
of 2010, will double the investment and personal net worth thresholds of the IIP to
$800,000 and $1.6M respectively. CIC has placed a moratorium on all IIP
applications as of June 26, 2010. All applications and fees received by CIC after
June 26, will be returned to the applicant until the proposed charges come into
effect, (or the Minister announces otherwise).

Conclusion
The past two years have seen monumental changes to Canada's immigration
system. First, in November 2008, we moved from an open occupation list to a
closed list of 38 occupations. Now, per the June 2010 changes, we have reduced
the list to 29, but more importantly, moved towards U.S.-style limits on
applications, in a system that resembles a combination of the Green Card lottery
system, and the H-1B cap. Additionally, language testing requirements have
been introduced for permanent resident applicants -- even for Americans and UK
citizens -- whether here working in Canada, or applying abroad. Finally, Investor
applicants will have to double their money. These changes all pose both
challenges and opportunities.
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