Program creates new category of immigrants

Posted by admin on Aug 13th, 2008

Arielle Godbout. Canwest News Service. Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The federal government is creating a new program aimed at helping foreign students and other temporary residents working in Canada become permanent residents, Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced Tuesday. The program would create a new category of immigrants, to be called the Canadian Experience Class, through which up to 25,000 foreign workers and graduates from Canadian colleges or universities could gain permanent residency on the basis of their work experience.

The government hopes the program, which would come into effect in October, would help keep immigrants in Canada, while at the same time attracting new students and workers.

“Choosing newcomers based on knowledge of our labour market and experience within Canadian society would make Canada a more attractive destination for skilled individuals from around the world,” Finley said. “International students and skilled workers would be more likely to choose Canada if they knew their time in Canada and contribution to Canadian society would assist in their eligibility to apply to stay permanently.”

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said that while the proposed program would be a step in the right direction, it wouldn’t be a radical departure from the system already available to temporary residents looking to immigrate.

Applicants eligible under the new program are already eligible under the point system set out under the existing Skilled Worker Program, which determines whether a foreigner is permitted to stay in Canada, Kurland said. That program weighs six factors, including education, experience and ability to speak English or French.

The new category does have its benefits though, said Kurland, a Vancouver-based lawyer.

For instance, it would save applicants money by allowing them to work their way through the process without visiting a border crossing.

“You no longer have to go through the charade of driving to a border or going through an airport to become landed. You can go to the local [Citizenship and Immigration Canada] office for that,” he said.

The new program would be open to graduates of post-secondary programs lasting at least two academic years, provided they have at least one year of work experience in a managerial, professional or technical occupation or skilled trades, as well as foreign workers with at least two years of work experience. Applicants would also have at least basic or moderate language skills.

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow slammed the proposed program as discriminatory on the grounds that it would only apply to certain kinds of workers.

“Whether you have a managerial or professional kind of job, white-collar kind of jobs, or you have blue-collar jobs — construction worker, farm workers, chefs — you should have equal opportunity to stay in Canada,” said Chow, her party’s critic for immigration matters.”

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