Posted on - Jan 28, 2013

By Catherine Sas

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Minister Kenney announced on December 19, 2012, that he will re-introduce the Federal Skilled Worker Program effective May 4, 2013. Canada’s cornerstone Skilled Worker Program had been suspended since June of 2012, given a huge backlog of cases that had built up over years. The new Skilled Worker Program is designed to allow processing to occur in a far more timely fashion. The program’s changes also shift emphasis from education and foreign work experience to language proficiency and Canadian work experience.

The Skilled Worker process has always been based on a point score for various selection criteria with applicants needing to score a minimum of 67 points out of 100. The new changes shift the emphasis to key selection criteria factors focusing on skills designed to enhance an immigrants’ ability to integrate into the Canadian workplace as quickly as possible.

What’s New

Language

Language is now the single most important factor under the Skilled Worker criteria. The points allotted for language proficiency shift from a maximum of 24 points to a maximum of 28 points. However, what is most significant is that a far greater emphasis is being placed on proficiency in the first official language rather than the second official language. Previously, applicants were able to score a maximum of 16 points for first official language and a further 8 points for the second official language. Under the new Skilled Worker criteria, applicants can score a maximum of 24 points for the first official language and 4 points for the second official language. Points are still allocated on the basis of whether an individual demonstrates proficiency in each of reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension with points being awarded at 6 points for high proficiency, 5 points for moderate proficiency or 4 points for basic proficiency in each skill area. In order to demonstrate language proficiency, applicants must submit an official test score from designated testing bodies such as IELTS or CELPIP.

Age

The points allocated for age shift from a maximum of 10 points to a maximum of 12. In addition, the points favour younger applicants. Previously, applicants could score a maximum of 10 points if they were between the ages of 21 to 49 years. Each year below 21 or over 49 saw a decrease of 2 points per year with the applicants 16 or younger or 54 or older receiving no points for age. Now applicants aged 18 to 36 are able to score a maximum of 12 points. Applicants over the age of 36 lose a point per year up until age 46. 0 points are awarded for skilled worker less than 18 years of age or over 47.

Education

The maximum points remain the same for the education criteria however, the allocation of points for various education levels changes. 5 points are awarded for secondary school, 15 points are awarded for a one year post secondary credential, 19 points are awarded for a 2 year post secondary credential, 21 points are awarded for a post secondary program of 3 years or more, and 22 points are awarded for 2 or more post secondary credentials with at least one of them being 3 years or more. 23 points are awarded for a Master’s degree or an educational certificate for a professional degree such as a physician, lawyer, or accountant. Previously, many professionals were only allocated 20 points for the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. 25 points are still awarded for a PhD.

All Skilled Worker applicants will now have to have their educational qualifications evaluated by an independent credential evaluation service. A list of credential assessment organizations is to be designated by the Minister of Immigration and will be published in the coming months.

Work Experience

There is a decrease in points awarded for work experience from 21 points to 15 points. Research has shown that work experience is less of an indicator of successful integration into the Canadian labour force and accordingly this criteria has been reduced. Previously maximum work experience points had been granted if an applicant had 4 years of full time work experience. The points now shift to 9 points for one year of work experience, 11 points for 2 to 3 years of work experience, 13 points for 4 to 5 years of work experience and a maximum of 15 points for 6 or more years of work experience.

Arranged Employment

The points for arranged employment will remain the same at 10, however, the previous process of obtaining an arranged employment opinion (AEO) with an indeterminate job offer has been eliminated. It is now necessary for all applicants to apply to Service Canada for a labour market opinion (LMO) which can be used for both a work permit as well as a permanent resident application. Applicants who obtain a labour market opinion from Service Canada may also score a further 5 points under adaptability.

Adaptability

The maximum score under adaptability remains the same at 10 points but the basis upon which you may qualify for those 10 points shifts dramatically. Previously a person was able to score 5 points for their spouse’s education, previous study in Canada by the applicant or their spouse, previous work experience in Canada by the applicant or their spouse, any relative in Canada, or an arranged employment certificate. Adaptability for work experience points are now awarded based upon Canadian work experience. An applicant who has worked in Canada for a minimum of one year at a NOC level A, O, or B (Skilled worker NOC Levels) is able to get a maximum score of 10 points. They may also get a combination of 5 points for previous study in Canada either by themselves or their spouse; previous work experience in Canada of their spouse; or arranged employment. 5 points may still be awarded for a relative in Canada however the relative must be 18 years of age or over. In keeping with the trend to emphasize language proficiency over previous work experience, 5 adaptability points are available for a spouses’ language proficiency, with points no longer awarded for a spouse’s education.

Summary of The Skilled Worker Points Changes

Skilled Worker Program Max Points before Max Points May 4, 2013
Language 24 28 (+4)
Age 10 12 (+2)
Education 25 25
Work Experience 21 15 (-6)
Arranged Employment 10 10
Adaptability 10 10
Total points available 100 100

Need to score 67 to pass!

Stay tuned for ongoing updates to the program including the list of eligible occupations as well as the recognized education credential evaluation services.


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 5 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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