Posted on - Jan 17, 2013

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

The New Year brought in significant changes for prospective new immigrants to Canada. Here is a brief summary of pivotal changes to Canada’s economic immigration program.

Canadian Experience Class

January 2, 2013 brought in a significant change to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Individuals working in Canada on a valid work permit are now eligible to apply for permanent residence under the CEC class after completing one year of full-time paid work experience in Canada. Previously, applicants needed a minimum of two years of full time work experience to be eligible to apply under the CEC class. This change is consistent with Minister Kenney’s overall recognition of the significance of Canadian work experience for new immigrants to be able to effectively integrate into the Canadian economy as quickly as possible. In addition to the twelve months of full time paid work experience, applicants must also demonstrate proof of language ability from one of the recognized English language testing programs such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP).

IELTS is an international testing program based out of the U.K. with an emphasis on traditional English vocabulary. CELPIP is a Canadian based test reflecting Canadian language style and it was only recently approved as of November 2012 for Canadian Experience Class applicants. This is a welcome change for individuals already working in Canada who are now able to take the CELPIP test which reflects the language skills that they are using while gaining valuable work experience in Canada.

Introduction of the Federal Skilled Trades Program

January 2, 2013 saw the creation of a brand new program for skilled trades people. The creation of the Federal Skilled Trades Class is to facilitate applications for permanent residence in certain identified trades. Eligible applicants must show a minimum of 24 months of full time paid work experience within the last five years in one of the eligible skilled trade occupations identified in either group A or group B. Group A occupations identify seventeen occupational categories from the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and allow up to one hundred applications per occupation per year.
Group B occupations have no cap to the number of applications per year other than the general limit of up to 3000 applications a year for the Federal Skilled Trade Class. Group B occupations are listed on the government website and represent twenty six specific trades that are eligible under this program.

Skilled trade applicants must also meet specific language threshold requirements demonstrating language proficiency in each of speaking, reading, writing, and oral comprehension.

Skilled Worker Program Revived

On December 19, 2012, Minister Kenney announced that he would be re-opening Canada’s Skilled Worker Program effective May 4, 2013. The Skilled Worker Program has been the corner-stone of Canada’s economic immigration program for decades. It is a points based application process where-by applicants must score at least 67 out of a possible 100 points. The new Skilled Worker Program shifts the emphases on points available for various selection criteria. Of key significance is that language proficiency is the new focus of the Skilled Worker program. Maximum potential language points have increased from 16 to 24 making language the single most significant selection factor under the Skilled Worker Program.

This new program also shifts the emphasis on age towards younger applicants. Previously the old system gave 10 points for anyone between the ages of 21 to 49 years of age. Applicants over the age of 49 or under the age of 21 lost a point for each year beyond that range. The new selection criteria will favour younger applicants by awarding a maximum of 12 points for applicants between the ages of 18 to 35. Applicants over the age of 35 will lose one point per year with no points being eligible for anybody beyond the age of 47 onwards. Education remains at a maximum of twenty five points, however all applicants will need to submit a credential evaluation which identifies the equivalency of their educational qualification to Canadian standards.

Bridging Work Permits for Economic Applicants

As of December 15, 2012, applicants for permanent residence status in the economic stream will be eligible to apply for bridging work permits and will no longer be required to obtain a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) which can take three to four months. Applicants for permanent residence who have met the eligibility requirements under the Federal Skilled Worker program, Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominee Program, or the Federal Skilled Trades Program may apply for the bridging work permit.

This new bridging work permit is a significant benefit for individuals who were already working in Canada and who were facing the expiration of their work permits prior to the finalization of their permanent residence applications.

To be eligible to apply for a bridging work permit an applicant must be:

  • presently in Canada and have submitted an application for an open work permit or be possession of a valid work permit which will expire in four months or less.
  • approved as eligible to make the economic application submitted

These changes recognize the importance of workers in Canada and are meant to facilitate their transition from temporary residence to permanent resident in Canada.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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