Skilled Worker Evaluations: You Pass. No Wait, You Fail

By Andy Semotiuk | February 9, 2015

US and Canadian Immigration Lawyer Andy Semotiuk: An interesting piece from Adrian Humphreys that looks at the problem of deciding which credentials will help potential immigrants get into Canada as a skilled worker:

Canada’s way of assessing potential immigrants under the Federal Skilled Worker program is so vague, the same applicant presenting the same paperwork could score either a high-flying pass or a dismal failing grade depending on interpretation, the Federal Court of Canada says.

The new assessment process for potential “economic-class” immigrants was found lacking in what is thought to be the first court challenge it has faced.

A financial analyst from Pakistan applying last year for permanent residence status in Canada as a federal skilled worker was given a score of five points, out of a potential 25, in the education category of her assessment.

It was argued in court that different assessments of the same credentials could have scored her 19 or even 23 points.

Federal Court Justice Cecily Strickland found all three scores could have been seen as correct or “reasonable.”

It is disturbing to think that the destiny of a person is hostage to such wide swings in interpretation of criteria. The government should seek to take the uncertainty out of the process. What is needed is a centralized decision maker on these credentials, and an accepted list of approved educational institutions.

An example understandable to Canadians would be that universities like McGill, University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia would be recognized as top tier institutions, and the graduate would be given an appropriate score. Graduates from other reputable institutions with shorter diploma programs – for example George Brown or Sheridan – might be accepted, but would be subject to some further degree of evaluation. On the other hand, Bob and Mary’s School for Movie Actors, even if it had a provincial licence, would require strict scrutiny and would be given a lower score still.

An alternative to this would be to use the US model of private sector evaluations. In that instance, all foreign credentials would be vetted by approved private evaluators, who would then submit their reports to the applicant to be included in their submission. If the government then sought to deny the application, it could attack the evaluator’s report. This would give the applicant a chance to reply, rather than deny them entry outright.

Whatever the case, it’s obvious from Humphreys’ piece that the evaluation process needs improvement.

Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with immigration law firm Pace Immigration. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.