New Federal Skilled Trades Program Unveiled

On January 2nd, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada began accepting applications to the new Federal Skilled Trades Program. The Program offers permanent resident status to foreign nationals qualified in a skilled trade. It is intended to improve Canada’s ability to meet the labour demand in trades sectors such as construction, oil & gas, mining, agriculture, and forestry, which have some of the highest sectoral job vacancy rates in Canada. The Canadian Construction Association says that, by 2020, Canada will need 320,000 additional construction workers—only about half of which are likely to be available from domestic sources.

The program will be particularly beneficial to provinces like Alberta, which holds the highest job vacancy rate in the country (3.6% as of November 2012). It is estimated that Alberta will need 115,000 additional workers in skilled trades over the next 10 years.

In the first year of the program, a maximum of 3,000 applications will be processed. The Program applies to 43 categories of jobs, divided into two groups. For the first group, which includes 17 “moderate labour market need” job categories, a sub-cap of 100 applications per job category applies (i.e. once 100 applicants are accepted for an individual job category, that category will be closed for the year). The second group includes 26 “in-demand” jobs for which there will be no sub-caps. A list of all job categories presently included in the Program can be found here. All belong to Skill Level ‘B’ of the National Occupation Classification (NOC).

Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • meet all job requirements for the skilled trade category;
  • plan to live outside Quebec;
  • have at least two years’ full-time experience (or the equivalent in part-time experience) in the trade within the five years prior to application;
  • prove basic proficiency in either English or French by way of a language test from an organization approved by CIC;
  • have a full-time offer of employment for a total period of at least one year, OR a certificate of qualification issued by a provincial or territorial body.

CIC is currently estimating that applications will be processed within 12 months.

Applications will be processed in the order they are received up until the yearly cap is reached. As such, potential applicants should act quickly, and ensure that their application is complete and accurate at the time of submission.

The Foreign Skilled Trades Program offers an unprecedented opportunity to many who, in the past, may only have been eligible for a temporary work permit. Unlike a work permit, the Program leads to immediate permanent resident status in Canada. After residing in Canada for three years, those accepted under the program can acquire Canadian citizenship, leading to a Canadian passport. Canadian law recognizes and permits dual and multiple citizenships.

The Immigration Law Group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. has the expertise to assist both employers and potential applicants with evaluating eligibility for this program, preparing comprehensive application packages, and addressing any potential complications.

Detailed information on the program is available from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website:http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/trades/index.asp

Warren L. Creates and Jacqueline J. Bonisteel

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