Canada has recently announced changes to the immigration system
to enhance our ability to attract, for the shorter term, and
retain, for the longer term, people whose skills are a fit with the
needs of Canadian employers.
In December 2008, Canada announced that professionals seeking to
work temporarily in Canada under the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) can now receive work permits for up to three
years. Previously, NAFTA workers were required to renew their work
permit every twelve months. The change matches the United
States' new rules on issuance of Trade NAFTA (TN) work visas to
Canadian and Mexican professionals under NAFTA.
NAFTA work permits are an excellent option for North American
professionals seeking to work in Canada – including
accountants, engineers, actuaries, scientists, management
consultants and many health care professionals, to name a few. The
Minister of Immigration has stated that this change will help
Canadian employers remain competitive by ensuring they have access
to necessary skilled labour. "This extension, along with our
Action Plan for Faster Immigration, will greatly benefit the
Canadian economy by helping ensure greater continuity and stability
for both employers and workers," Minister Kenney stated in the
Press Release. "In a time of economic uncertainty, highly
skilled migrants encourage innovation and economic growth, making
us more competitive economically."
By allowing workers to obtain three-year permits up front,
employers may lure to Canada workers who felt that a one year
permit left their future too uncertain. These workers can also now
normally apply for and obtain permanent resident status during the
3 year work permit stay, which also allows employers and employees
to plan for the future; this is part of the Action Plan for Faster
Canada's Action Plan has meant rolling out two changes to
the permanent residence system that will allow people working in
Canada on work permits to obtain permanent residency quickly and
with as few hassles as possible. For those who have worked in
Canada on a work permit for at least two years, the new Canadian
Experience Class promises completion within about 6 months, and
with only two real criteria (beyond good health and no criminal
record). The candidates must have very good/excellent english
skills and two years of skilled work experience under a valid work
permit in Canada within the three years preceding the application.
Previously, under the points system, some excellent candidates had
difficulty immigrating due to their age or the fact that they had
not earned a bachelor's degree. Now, neither of those criteria
would be a factor.
The second change to the permanent residence system under the
Action Plan is that people working in Canada (who don't qualify
for the CEC because they have not been in Canada long enough) who
apply for permanent residence will be given fast-tracking and
improved service (a decision within 12 months), while those who
have never worked in Canada may have their applications turned
back. Canada no longer wants to hold on to a "backlog" of
Canada is making changes to its immigration system in order to
attract and retain the "best and the brightest"- the
human capital that Canadian employers need to stay competitive and
be successful in this global economy.
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