Posted on - Jan 04, 2013

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Minister Kenney delivered a one – two punch on December 10 and 11 by opening up the federal skilled trades stream for permanent residence and fast tracking the eligibility requirements for Canadian Experience Class applicants. As of January 2, 2013 both of these categories will implement new changes to Canada’s Immigration program.

The new federal skilled trades stream is part of the general skilled worker program and will allow people to apply for permanent residence so long as applicants meet 4 basic criteria. Skilled trades applicants will need to:

  1. have an offer of employment in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a province or territory to ensure that they are job ready upon arrival;
  2. meet a basic language requirement;
  3. have two years of recent and relevant work experience as a skilled trades person or qualified journeyman; and
  4. have the skills and experience that match the National Occupational Classification criteria (NOC Level B) demonstrating that they have performed the essential duties of that specified trade.

Minister Kenney is keen to avoid building up any further back logs in the skilled worker program and in order to manage intake and allow for fast processing times, the trades stream will accept up to a maximum of 3000 applications for the first year. The federal skilled trades program will not be open to all trades – eligible applicants will include electricians, welders, heavy duty equipment mechanics, and pipe fitters among others. Canada Immigration is currently developing a list to be released prior to implementation of the program on January 2, 2013 which will set out those trades facing acute labour shortages and which will qualify under this new program.

Also, coming into force on January 2, 2013 are the new reduced eligibility criteria for Canadian Experience Class applicants. At present workers in Canada are required to obtain 2 years of work experience in Canada before being able to apply for permanent residence in the Canadian Experience Class. As of the new year, skilled worker applicants in Canada who have 12 months Canadian work experience will now be eligible to apply for permanent residence. Furthermore, Canadian experience class graduate applicants will now have a longer period of time to obtain their one year of post graduate work experience with the eligible work period increasing to 36 months from 24 months. The changes will allow for skilled workers to transition to permanent residence more quickly and international students will now have more time to be able to gain the necessary work experience in order to qualify for permanent residence. In addition to these changes, the Minister has also indicated that he is increasing the annual number of CEC applicants for 2013 to 10, 000 which is a significant increase over previous years. The government recognises that workers and students in Canada who obtain Canadian work experience and education make excellent permanent residents and these changes are meant to facilitate their ability to do so more quickly. Introduction of the skilled trades stream and the shorter CEC qualifying criteria are just the first of many anticipated changes in the new year for Canada’s cornerstone skilled worker program.

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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