Canada: More Options For IT Professionals Under The Federal Skilled Worker Program

Recent changes to the application cap for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program announced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will provide new opportunities for workers in a number of eligible occupations to become permanent residents of Canada during 2014 and 2015.  

An announcement made by CIC noted an increase in not only the number of applications being accepted as part of the FSW program, with the total cap rising to 25,000 this year, but also an increase in the number of eligible occupations under the program from the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system. Last year, prospective immigrants with experience in 24 different occupations were eligible to apply under the FSW program.  During the current application cycle, between May 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015, applicants with experience in any of the 50 occupations now eligible for the program have the opportunity to apply to become a permanent resident of Canada. The more than doubling of eligible occupations for the FSW Program will provide new opportunities for individuals in a wide variety of professions to immigrate to Canada.

Prospective immigrants in information technology positions are one group that will benefit greatly from both the increased application cap and the growing list of eligible occupations. Prior to the recent changes, only IT professionals with experience in two occupations, computer engineering or computer programming and interactive media developing, were eligible for the FSW without a valid job offer. During the previous program, applications were capped at 300 per occupation. As a result, only 600 total applications from IT professionals were able to be processed by the government of Canada under the previous program.  Recent additions to the list of accepted occupations resulted in the inclusion of a number of additional information technology occupations, providing new opportunities for prospective applicants with experience in this industry to become Canadian permanent residents.  

Under the updated eligible occupation list, five occupations in the information technology sector are included, with an increased cap of 1,000 applications for each of the five occupations. Eligible occupations in the information technology industry include information systems analysts and consultants, database analysts and data administrators, software engineers and designers, computer programmers and interactive media developers, and computer network technicians.  The additions to the occupation list and the increased application cap for each occupation will allow for 5,000 applications from individuals in this industry to be processed, constituting a 733% increase in the opportunities available to prospective applicants with experience in information technology from last year.

Applicants interested in applying to the FSW Program in an information technology occupation may not require their job title to be an exact match to an eligible occupation. Each eligible occupation includes a detailed description of the duties and responsibilities of that the particular occupation.  Prospective applicants may benefit from combing through the list of duties in order to find the occupation that best matches their previous experience, regardless of the job title.  If an individual has performed the actions described in the lead statement of the occupation and performed a significant number of the main duties, they may be able to apply under the occupation. It is important to be mindful of the duration as well, as full time continuous work experience for at least one year (or equivalent part time), within the last 10 years, is required for an individual to apply under the FSW eligible occupation stream.

Prospective applicants with one year of full time experience in an eligible position also have the opportunity to apply to the FSW Program under an eligible occupation even if the individual is not currently working in that occupation. As long as the experience was within the last 10 years, it can count towards an FSW applications. The eligible occupation list on the Government of Canada's website also features a variety of alternate position titles for each occupation to facilitate the process for prospective immigrants trying to determine whether or not their experience and past professions are in line with a listed occupation.

Individuals in the information technology industry who are interested in permanently coming to Canada through the FSW Program can find the details of each occupation online in order to match their previous job experience to an eligible occupation.  A detailed reading of the job description and the main duties of the position for eligible occupations and a greater understanding of the occupation will allow individuals to best demonstrate the ways in which their prior experience fits into a particular occupation on their FSW Program application.  The ability of prospective applicants to match their experience to an occupation and look beyond the recognized job title will help ensure that applicants are applying under the occupation category that is the best fit for their work history. Being able to find the correct one or more occupations on the eligible occupation list can help maximize the chances of a successful application.

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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