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Canada: New Fast, Flexible Just-in-Time Immigration System

Toronto, November 2, 2012 — Today, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that by the end of 2013, Canada’s immigration system will be transformed from one that was plagued by backlogs into one that is fast, flexible, and responsive to the labour market.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today it will admit up to 55,300 persons in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category in 2013. Combined with previous actions taken to manage the backlog, this means by the end of 2013 we will be able to process new applications as they are received – a “just in time” system – and aim to process them in less than a year, instead of up to eight years under the old FSWprogram. In addition, CIC expects to clear the FSW applications received to date by the end of 2014, three years earlier than originally expected.

This will allow for the introduction of an Expression of Interest (EOI) system to be put in place for FSW and possibly other economic immigration streams. CIC is moving to a just-in-time system that recruits people with the right skills to meet Canada’s labour market needs, fast tracks their applications, and gets them working in a period of months, instead of years.

“The Government’s number one priority remains the economy and job growth,” said Minister Kenney. “Immigration backlogs are detrimental to our ability to attract the world’s top talent. With the decisive actions we’ve taken to tackle the backlog, we will finally be able to select immigrants who better meet the needs of the Canadian labour market. We will aim to process their applications in less than 12 months.”

The volume of FSW applications has been a longstanding dilemma, since the number of applications received inevitably exceeded the space available within the Immigration Levels Plan each year. As a result, wait times in the FSW program were as high as eight years.

Over the past few years, CIC has taken concrete measures to tackle this problem, including the following:

  • Under the 2008 Action Plan for Faster ImmigrationCIC began to limit FSWapplication intake to priority occupations.
  • In 2010, the Department added caps to the number of new applications.
  • In June 2012, the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act eliminated most of the remaining FSW applications received before February 27, 2008.
  • In July 2012, CIC issued a temporary pause on new FSW applications, excluding candidates with a qualifying job offer or those applying under the PhD stream.

Taken together, these efforts have dramatically reduced the total number of people waiting in the FSW backlog from a height of 640,000 people in 2008 to approximately 100,000 today, even with new applications received since the 2008 Action Plan.

“By tackling the backlog to make way for a faster, more flexible just-in-time immigration system, newcomers to Canada will be able to fully participate in the economy more quickly,” said Minister Kenney. “Immigration plays a vital role in our country’s long-term prosperity. By improving our economic immigration system, we can ensure that Canada is competitive on the world stage.”

In 2013, CIC plans to admit between 53,500 to 55,300 Federal Skilled Workers, including their spouses and dependants. CIC intends to lift the current pause on FSW applications in 2013, when the new selection criteria are expected to take effect. The final regulatory changes will be available in the Canada Gazette later this year.

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