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Professional & Skilled Workers

The vast majority of newcomers to Canada become residents through economic immigration programs. Canada’s immigration targets for 2018-2020 indicate that nearly 200,000 new economic immigrants will be welcomed to the country each year. This means that there are many opportunities for foreign nationals with the skills needed to fill labour gaps in the Canadian economy.

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Economic immigration refers to those immigration programs which aim to positively affect the Canadian economy. The majority of economic immigration programs aim to attract skilled workers to Canada. Skilled workers are able to fill shortages in Canada’s labour force and build lasting careers contributing to the Canadian economy. Skilled worker immigration programs are permanent resident programs, and successful applicants receive Canadian permanent resident status.

Express Entry

Express Entry is the system Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses to manage applications to three major federal skilled worker immigration programs.

  1. Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  2. Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

As well, many provinces operate Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs) streams that are aligned with Express Entry. Candidates who are eligible for one of the programs managed by Express Entry must submit a profile to the Express Entry pool.

All Express Entry candidates are then assigned a score based on their profile using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), regardless of the program for which they are eligible. This score is based on various criteria, including age, education, language proficiency, work experience, and connections to Canada. The highest-ranking candidates are issued invitations to apply for permanent residence in periodic Express Entry draws. Once invited, processing times are as fast as 6 months.

Federal Skilled Worker

All Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) candidates must have a minimum of one year of skilled work experience. However, this program does not require a connection to Canada, so it can be an ideal immigration option for foreign nationals living outside of Canada. Please note that the program does have strict eligibility requirements regarding work experience, level of education, age, and language proficiency.

Federal Skilled Trades

In order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program, candidates must have at least two years of work experience in a skilled trade. This experience must have been obtained within the previous 5 years. As well, eligible candidates must have either an offer of full-time employment for a position lasting at least 12-months or a certificate of qualification in their skilled trade which is issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

Canadian Experience Class

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an economic immigration program which requires some Canadian experience. Candidates must have at least 12 months of full-time, skilled work experience, completed in Canada within the previous 3 years. This program is not an option for foreign nationals who do not possess this Canadian experience.

Provincial Nominee Programs for Skilled Workers

Canada’s provinces and territories operate unique immigration programs designed to meet their individual economic and demographic needs. These are called Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Many of these programs target skilled workers who can fill gaps in provincial and territorial workforces, so there are a variety of options for skilled workers.

Quebec Immigration for Skilled Workers

The province of Quebec retains significant autonomy and authority over its immigration policies and procedures, especially when compared to the other provinces and territories. For this reason, Quebec operates its own immigration programs which are outside of the federal Express Entry system.

Applying for permanent residence through the province of Quebec follows a two-step process. First, it is necessary to apply to the Quebec government to receive a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). Once an applicant has a CSQ, they are then able to submit a paper-based application for permanent residence to Canada’s federal immigration authorities. Quebec operates two major permanent residence programs for skilled workers:

  1. Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)
  2. Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW)

Quebec Experience Program

The Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) program requires skilled workers to be living in Quebec and to have 12 months of full-time, skilled work experience completed within Quebec in the previous 2 years. The program has a faster processing time than Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) but it also has stricter eligibility requirements. This program does require applicants to demonstrate advanced intermediate knowledge of oral French.

Quebec Skilled Worker

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW) program may be an option for skilled workers living outside of Quebec, as it does not necessarily require a Quebec connection. The QSW program uses a points grid to assess eligibility for the program and to rank candidates against one another. Interested candidates must submit an electronic Expression of Interest (EOI) using the Arrima Portal. The most competitive candidates will be invited to apply to the program.

Work Permits

Skilled workers who are interested in working in Canada, but are not eligible for an existing immigration program, may be interested in pursuing a temporary work permit. Work experience gained while on a temporary work permit may increase the candidate’s eligibility for permanent residence immigration programs. To obtain a work permit, candidates usually require a job offer from a Canadian employer.

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