Work Visa Canada
Canada is facing a skilled labor shortage as its economy continues to expand at the same time as growing numbers of Canadians are retiring from the workforce. Consequently, Canada's government and Canadian businesses have been increasingly seeking skilled foreign workers to help fill thousands of Canadian job openings across the country. In order to attract thousands of skilled foreign workers who can immediately integrate into Canada’s economy, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) was established to offer a Canadian work visa (i.e., Permanent Resident Visa to Canada) to foreign nationals in various high-demand professional, managerial and technical occupations and skilled trades.
The past immigration selection process for a work visa in Canada was not adequately responding to the evolving needs of Canada’s dynamic labor market. A number of skilled workers were experiencing difficulty in finding jobs in their field and some employers were also facing challenges finding workers with the skills and qualifications they needed. Thus, the FSWP stopped accepting applications on July 1, 2012, while the Canadian government reviewed the program and revised its criteria to better meet the needs of both Canada and eligible skilled foreign workers. As of May 4, 2013, however, the Canadian government once again started accepting applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) based upon the new requirements.
Who can apply for a Canadian work visa?
In 2011, over 56,000 economic immigrants were admitted to Canada. In the next 10 years, it is projected that 2/3 of all new jobs in Canada are expected to be in highly skilled occupations requiring post secondary education, such as:
- Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades
- Maintenance and Equipment Operation Trades
- Supervisors and Technical Occupations in Natural Resources
- Agriculture and Related Production
- Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities Supervisors
- Central Control Operators
- Various High-Tech Occupations
- Certain Specialized Medical Professions
- Different Positions in the Financial Sector
New changes recently made to the Canadian work visa program will better select skilled foreign workers who meet Canada’s current and evolving economic needs. By placing more emphasis on the language, education, age and skill profile of skilled foreign workers, applicants selected under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the new Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will have the ability to seek employment that more closely matches their training with greater speed and efficiency.
These new changes will also reduce the bureaucratic procedure for employers and fast-track the process for both employers and skilled workers with regard to offers of arranged employment.
The Canada work visa (Federal Skilled Worker Visa) is based upon a point system; 100 points are possible, with a passing mark being a minimum of 67 points. Points are based upon one’s age, English/French language skills, work experience, education and other criteria. The point system has been reformed to reflect the importance of younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and better language skills.
The recent changes made to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) make English and/or French language abilities the most important selection factor, with a new minimum official benchmark and increasing points for language. One can receive a maximum of 28 points for language alone (24 points possible for one "first official language" and an additional 4 points possible for a "second official language") instead of 16 points based upon the old point system. Thus, an applicant who gets the maximum points possible for their language abilities in one of Canada's two official languages (either English or French) can get 24 points, but if they also get the maximum points available for their language skills in the other official Canadian language (either English or French), they could receive an additional 4 points for a maximum language total of 28 points!
Under the new rules for the FSWP that became effective as of May 4, 2013, education is now the second most important selection factor, with a maximum of 25 points possible. A key requirement under the new criteria involves an applicant for the FSWP having their credentials assessed by an agency that has been approved by the Canadian government. Two major reasons for requiring the assessment of one's credentials is to evaluate to what extent an applicant's education obtained overseas is similar to that received in Canada and to help make it possible for a skilled foreign worker approved for a work visa to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program to more quickly find a job in their occupation.
While age eligibility to qualify for the work visa in Canada (i.e., Federal Skilled Worker Program) is 17-47, the new criteria grant more points for those within the 18-35 age-range (12 points). In the old point system, the maximum one could receive was 10 points. The purpose for this is to bring in younger immigrants who will acquire Canadian employment experience and remain in the workforce longer.
On April 18, 2013, the Canadian government released further details about major changes being made to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) effective May 4, 2013, when this program began accepting applications again using the updated criteria. For example, up to 5,000 Permanent Resident Visa applications will be accepted through the FSWP between May 4, 2013, and April 30, 2014. Applicants must also have at least one year of continuous, paid, full-time work experience in an eligible occupation within the past 10 years. Currently, the Canadian government is particularly interested in qualified skilled foreign workers in certain managerial, professional and technical occupations or skilled trades. At this stage, 24 eligible occupations have been listed for the FSWP. A maximum of 300 applications will be accepted for each of the 24 eligible FSWP occupations. These limits have been established to help expedite faster processing of FSWP visa applications. Please note, however, that there may be additional work visas available through the FSWP for qualified skilled foreign workers with a "valid offer of arranged employment" in Canada or those applying under the PhD stream. Receiving a positive assessment of foreign educational credentials by one of four authorized assessing organizations will also be necessary, as will having one's English and/or French language skills evaluated (and receiving an adequate score). There are other criteria, including meeting health and character requirements.
According to information released by the Canadian government on April 18, 2013, the 24 eligible occupations for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (as of May 4, 2013) are: Aerospace Engineers; Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologists; Cardiology Technicians and Electrophysiological Diagnostic Technologists not elsewhere classified; Chemical Engineers; Civil Engineers; Computer Engineers (except software engineers/designers); Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers; Engineering Managers; Financial and Investment Analysts; Geological Engineers; Geoscientists and Oceanographers; Industrial Instrument Technicians and Mechanics; Inspectors in Public and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety; Land Surveyors; Mechanical Engineers; Medical Laboratory Technicians and Pathologist Assistants; Medical Laboratory Technologists; Medical Radiation Technologists; Medical Sonographers; Mining Engineers; Occupational Therapists; Petroleum Engineers; Physiotherapists; and Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Perfusionists and Cardiopulmonary Technologists.
Canadian Visa Expert will continue to keep our clients informed about updates being made to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) as the Canadian government releases more details. Our legal team also closely monitors the latest developments regarding various Canadian immigration programs for being issued a work visa to Canada and will provide its clients with professional assessments based upon the most up-to-date information as it becomes available.
Finally, a distinction needs to be made between the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) which started accepting applications under the new criteria just discussed as of May 4, 2013, and another Canadian immigration program with a similar name, the new Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), which started accepting applications for a Canada work visa on January 2, 2013. The Federal Skilled Worker Program offers a Canadian work visa to eligible skilled foreign workers in 24 eligible professions (such as aerospace engineers, computer programmers, financial and investment analysts, petroleum engineers, and respiratory therapists). The newer Federal Skilled Trades Program makes available a Canadian work visa to qualified skilled foreign tradespeople in such occupations as aircraft mechanics, carpenters, crane operators, electricians, ironworkers, machinists, oil and gas well drillers, plumbers, welders and other specified trades. Thus, it is important to understand the difference between these two Canadian immigration programs and to also realize that if one's occupation is not listed under one Canada work visa program, it might be under another.
Read more about the Federal Skilled Trades Program - the new Canadian Immigration program!