Canada: Changes to Application Requirements Under the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Classes

Last Updated: October 1 2010
Article by Tony G. Schweitzer and Shawna K. Vogel


The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has the authority to issue instructions regarding the processing of immigration applications. Pursuant to Ministerial Instructions issued on June 26, 2010 (the "MI"), the Minister introduced the following changes:

  1. an annual limit to the number of applications to be processed in the Federal Skilled Worker ("FSW") class;
  2. removal of the FSW category for temporary foreign workers and international students living in Canada for one year;
  3. a revised list of NOC code occupations eligible for FSW priority processing; and
  4. mandatory testing for language proficiency for FSW and Canadian Experience Class ("CEC") applicants.

The MI affects all applications received by the Centralized Intake Office ("CIO") in Sydney, Nova Scotia on or after June 26, 2010. All applications received by the CIO prior to that date will be processed according to the Minister's instructions issued on November 28, 2010. (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Operational Bulletin 218 – June 28, 2010 ["OB"], online at Operational Bulletin 218).

Category Cut

The MI eliminates the FSW class of applications for temporary foreign workers and international students living in Canada for one year. As such, skilled workers are limited to applying under the FSW class categories for applicants with arranged employment offers ("AEO"), and applicants with experience in the last ten years under one or more of the list of eligible NOC code occupations ("NOC List"). Applications received by the CIO on or after of June 26, 2010 must meet the criteria of either of these two categories to be placed into processing (OB).

Cap on Processing

Exclusive of AEO applications, a maximum of 20,000 FSW applications will be considered for processing each year. Within that 20,000, an annual maximum of 1,000 applications per NOC Code will be considered for processing. Applications will be considered in order, by the date of receipt, with applications received on the same day being considered in accordance with routine office procedures. The first year of cap calculations runs from June 26, 2010 to June 30, 2011. Subsequent years will be calculated from July 1 to June 30 unless otherwise indicated in future MIs (OB).

Revised NOC List

The MI reduced the number of occupations eligible for the FSW program from 38 to 29. The occupations removed from the list include managers in finance, health care and construction, computer and information systems, university professors and vocational instructors. Occupations added to the list include: psychologists; social workers; dental hygienists; pharmacists; dentists; architects; biologists; insurance adjusters; claims examiners; primary industry production managers (except agriculture); and professions in business, services and management. Applicants must have one year of continuous full‐time or equivalent paid work experience in at least one of the listed NOC codes, and not combine partial year experience in multiple NOCs on the List (Canada Gazette Part 1, June 26, 2010, n. 3 at 1670 ["Gazette"]).

The complete list is as follows (Gazette at 1670‐ 1671):

  • 0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers
  • 0811 Primary Production Managers (Except Agriculture)
  • 1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management
  • 1233 Insurance Adjusters and Claims Examiners
  • 2121 Biologists and Related Scientists
  • 2151 Architects
  • 3111 Specialist Physicians
  • 3112 General Practitioners and Family Physicians
  • 3113 Dentists
  • 3131 Pharmacists
  • 3142 Physiotherapists
  • 3152 Registered Nurses
  • 3215 Medical Radiation Technologists
  • 3222 Dental Hygienists & Dental Therapists
  • 3233 Licensed Practical Nurses
  • 4151 Psychologists
  • 4152 Social Workers
  • 6241 Chefs
  • 6242 Cooks
  • 7215 Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades
  • 7216 Contractors and Supervisors, Mechanic Trades
  • 7241 Electricians (Except Industrial & Power System)
  • 7242 Industrial Electricians
  • 7251 Plumbers
  • 7265 Welders & Related Machine Operators
  • 7312 Heavy‐Duty Equipment Mechanics
  • 7371 Crane Operators
  • 7372 Drillers & Blasters ‐ Surface Mining, Quarrying & Construction
  • 8222 Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service

Applications on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

FSW applications accompanied by a request for processing on humanitarian and compassionate grounds must be identified for processing under the MI in order to be processed (i.e. the application must meet the AEO or NOC List category requirements to be eligible for processing) (Gazette at 1671).

Language Proficiency

As of June 26, 2010, all FSW and CEC applications must be accompanied by the results of the principal applicant's English or French Language Proficiency Assessment in order to be considered for processing. Only test results from a designated third party language testing agency will be accepted (Gazette, n. 2 at 1670). Currently, there is a two‐month waiting list for examinations in Alberta, so applicants are advised to book well in advance of submitting their application.

Summary of Application Requirements

Applicants must submit the completed application forms, together with all supporting documents (i.e. those listed on both the CIO and visa office specific document checklists). The CIO will review the application for completeness. If the application is incomplete, the entire package will be returned to the applicant.

To be eligible for processing, FSW applications received by the CIO on or after June 26, 2010 must:

  1. meet the criteria of either the AEO or NOC List categories;
  2. be accompanied by the results of the principal applicant's language proficiency assessment; and
  3. not exceed the identified caps.

Note: the FSW operational manual has been updated to reflect the changes implemented under the MI.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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