New Developments in Immigration Law for Skilled Trades

By: Jessica Young

On January 2, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada launched its new Federal Skilled Trades Program (“FSTP”), which was developed in response to the growing demand in Canada for skilled tradespersons.

The program was created in part to address the deficiencies in the Federal Skilled Worker Program.  The Federal Skilled Worker Program provides entrance to Canada of persons in specified occupations within the broad categories of professional, managerial and skilled trades.  Under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, workers are selected for permanent residency based on six factors: education, abilities in English and/or French, work experience, age, whether employment has been pre-arranged, and adaptability. Some of these factors, like years of education, have favoured applicants applying as managers and professionals rather than skilled tradespersons. The Canadian Government found that only around three percent of workers coming to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program were in the skilled trades.

The FSTP has been developed to facilitate the entrance of skilled tradespersons to Canada in areas where there is a high demand.  The main requirements for a successful application are detailed below.

Eligible Skilled Trades

Under the FSTP, workers in the following National Occupation Classification (“NOC”) Groups can apply. Note that these NOC groups are subdivided into specific occupations. In total, workers in 43 different jobs are eligible. 

  • Industrial, electrical and construction trades,
  • Maintenance and equipment operation trades,
  • Supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production, and
  • Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators.

The jobs are furthered divided into two groups, Group A and Group B depending on labour market needs. Jobs classified in Group A have a cap of 100 applicants in the first year. The jobs classified in Group B do not have a limit on the number of applications that will be processed. However, in total the program will only be accepting 3,000 applications in the first year.  

Click here for Ontario specific information.

Processing Times

In a news release, the government projected that applications will be processed within 12 months. However, since the program is new there is no past data upon which to base an estimation of time. Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicated in its online resources that processing times will vary depending on which visa office processes the application and would not give an indication of the expected time frame.

Implications for Employers

Employers looking for long term solutions to labour shortages in the skilled trades should consider taking advantage of this new program. For employers who currently employ skilled workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, there is no need to go through the time consuming labour market opinion process before applying under the FSTP. However, considering it is unknown how long the processing times will take, it is advisable to commence an application as soon as possible as the worker must be authorized to work in Canada at the time the permanent resident visa is issued. Depending on the length of time it takes to process the application, this could make it very difficult for temporary foreign workers to gain approval before their work permits expire.

All employers considering using the FSTP as an avenue to attract and employ foreign workers should act quickly. The program is only accepting 3,000 applications across the entire country in the first year and depending on the occupation there may be further limitations to the number of applications that will be processed. This means that in order to have an application processed, the earlier the better.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Young at jyoung@stringerllp.com or 416-862-1687

 

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