Major Shift In Canadian Immigration Policy

By John Burke | December 27, 2012

John Burke – Pace Immigration: Recent announcements of changes to the immigration programs made by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, have reflected a major policy shift in that the emphasis of the various immigration programs related particularly to Permanent Resident applicants is moving from an individual-centred focus to that of an employer-centred one.

Simply put, Canada’s immigration programs are moving from being supply-based to being demand-based. Thus, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for a prospective immigrant to come to Canada without a job offer.

As James Metcalfe, our Director of Immigration, advised in his post of December 20, 2012 the new Federal Skilled Worker selection criteria will come into effect in early May, 2013. Similarly, the existing structure of the Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) option under the present Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) remains as the only avenue open to prospective FSWP applicants. The present AEO option will remain in effect until the new program criteria are in effect; and, until that date it will continue without having a labour market component attached to it.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult for a prospective immigrant to come to Canada without a job offer.

When the new selection criteria come into effect, the AEO process as we now know it will disappear and be replaced by a new Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process that will be designed to support the prospective immigrant’s application for permanent residency in the same manner that the present AEO process does but the difference will be the addition of a labour market component that will require the employer to provide evidence to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada that he/she has not been able to find a suitably qualified Canadian/Permanent Resident from within the Canadian labour market.

As with the current LMO process, which is used to support the entrance of temporary foreign workers, the inability to find a suitably qualified Canadian/Permanent Resident candidate will not be the only factor on which an approval will be based. However, being able to demonstrate that the demand for the prospective immigrant’s skills is greater than the existing supply will be a major factor in this new process.

In addition to the above, the individual provinces, including Ontario, are all lobbying the federal government for a greater say in the immigration process. We will explore this topic in a further post.