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  • Canada's Nova Scotia Introduces Express Entry Immigration Programme

    By Esther Tanquintic-Misa

    Canada's province of Nova Scotia has introduced a new immigration programme called Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry which gives migrants the opportunity to settle down in Canada even without a job offer at hand. The province has set to accommodate 350 applications for this year.

    But while a job offer is not a requirement, Canada Immigration points out that an applicant still needs to adhere to a point-based system, where s/he must have a minimum of 67 points out of 100 to be eligible for application. The programme is available to individuals along with their spouse or common-law partner as well as dependent children under 19 years old.

    Each applicant will be assessed based on a points grid that measures education, language ability, work experience, age and adaptability factors. The potential candidate will also be evaluated if s/he already has an arranged job offer from a Nova Scotia-based employer.

    Before one can apply, s/he must have had at least one year of full-time or equivalent part-time work experience in one of the 29 skilled opportunity occupations considered in-demand within the past five years. Such opportunity occupations include various professions in the engineering, science, healthcare, finance and computing industries.

    Language ability in English or French will be assessed and will be subjected to a minimum score in a test recognised by the government of Canada. It could either be the IELTS or CELPIP for English or TEF for French. The applicant is highly advised to attain at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) seven in one of these tests. Nova Scotia may also require a foreign diploma, certificate or credential if a candidate does not have a post-secondary Canadian educational credential.

    Potential candidates to the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry have two application routes, either:

    • apply directly to the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI) and then enter the Express Entry pool with a provincial nomination, which will trigger an invitation to apply for permanent residence; or
    • be selected from the Express Entry pool by the NSOI.

    Nova Scotia has at least three types of immigration programmes: The Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry programme; the Skilled worker programme; and, the Family Business Worker programme. Nova Scotia is forecast to have the third-highest level of economic growth of all Canadian provinces in 2015.

    To participate in this program get your assessment done

  • Canada rethinks immigration, again

    In 1967 Canada invented a way to remove discrimination and prejudice from the process of choosing which immigrants to let in. The points system ignored an applicant's race and country of origin — until then it had helped to be white. Instead, it rewarded education, fluency in English or French and work experience. With the change, Asians supplanted white Europeans as the dominant immigrant group.

    The idea of basing admission to Canada on merit, rather than on a bureaucrat's whim, was visionary at the time. Several countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, adopted Canadian-style points systems. In Europe even politicians hostile to "uncontrolled" immigration sing the praises of Canada's selective approach.

    Canada remains relatively enlightened on immigration. The Harper government may be the only right-leaning party in the Western world firmly in favour of it. While European countries look for ways to close their doors and the United States argues about how many illegal immigrants to deport, Canada recently lifted its target for new permanent residents from 265,000 a year to 285,000. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said that he had expected a fuss when the announcement was made in October. It never came.

    "People thought it was the right thing to do," he said.

    Canadian policy is changing, however. Since winning power in 2006, the Conservatives have moved away from the idea of letting in people based on their "talent for citizenship" to admitting workers with job offers. On Jan. 1, the government moved further in that direction. A new "Express Entry system" greatly increases the weight given to offers of employment for people applying to become permanent residents.

    In this, Canada is a follower rather than a leader. New Zealand started giving preference to job holders in 2003 and Australia made the shift in 2009.

    The change makes sense, but critics worry that, in shifting from a policy based on civic values to one governed by commercial logic, Canada is making the system more vulnerable to fraud and discrimination. Though more open than other right-of-centre parties, Canada's Conservatives characteristically have been hard-nosed about letting in refugees and immigrants' family members.

    The original points system had flaws. Immigrants escaped discrimination at the entry gates, but often faced it when they tried to find a job. Employers did not always recognize skills and education acquired abroad, especially outside Europe. Doctors ended up driving taxis, while architects toiled at convenience stores. The unemployment rate among immigrants is nearly 50% higher than that for Canadian-born workers.

    Employer-led systems are intended to correct some of these problems. They reduce the mismatch between available jobs and immigrants' skills, and encourage them to settle outside big cities such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, where they tend to congregate.

    "If you care only about how immigrants fare in an economic sense, evidence suggests that an employer-led system is good," said Madeleine Sumption, head of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University in England.

    The Conservatives' first attempt to adopt one was not a success. The government tried to please employers by sharply increasing the number of foreign workers allowed in temporarily. That was the only way to fill low-skilled and semi-skilled jobs that Canadians did not want, said Dan Kelly, head of the association that represents Canada's small businesses. Applicants for permanent residence were too well educated.

    There were complaints, however. Rather than discriminating against immigrants, employers went out of their way to hire them at lower cost. A bank laid off 60 information-technology workers and contracted the work to a supplier, who applied to bring in foreign workers to replace them. Visas for "exotic dancers" embarrassed Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an evangelical Christian. Last June, the government severely restricted entry under temporary work visas.

    Express Entry is a second attempt. It ranks would-be economic migrants on a 1,200-point scale, with half the points awarded to those with a job offer or a nomination under one of Canada's provincial immigration plans, which are closely aligned with job vacancies.

    Those with the highest scores will be quickly invited to apply for permanent residency under one of three economic-entry programs. The rest remain in a pool from which the government and eventually employers can pick. While skilled workers still must pass the old 100-point system, this is a legal formality.

    The new system will help attract the engineers, information-technology specialists and health-care workers that Canada needs, Alexander said.

    The changes deal with earlier problems by requiring that applicants prove in advance that their credentials are recognized in Canada and by obliging employers to show in advance that no eligible Canadian is available for the job.

    The new plan also lowers Canada's age targets: applicants in their 20s get maximum points for age. Canada's new dream immigrant is younger, more polyglot, has already worked longer in Canada than the older version and, unlike him or her, has a job offer. One former minister praises the Conservatives for transforming the immigration department into a giant manpower agency.

    Not everyone is so happy.

    The changes amount to a privatization of immigration policy and could reintroduce discrimination, said Jeffrey Reitz of the University of Toronto.

    "The points system, with all its flaws, had some value," Reitz said. Visa officers fear that an employer-led system will be "fraught with fraud," according to a survey commissioned by the immigration department. They worry that non-existent employers will offer fictitious jobs to residents' friends and families.

    Immigrants who are tied to an employer for a fixed period are at risk of abuse. Unlike the old points system, which is neutral on race and nationality, the new one makes it possible for employers to discriminate in ways that are hard to detect. English-speaking employers in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver give preference to job applicants with English-sounding names, according to a study published in 2011.

    The Conservatives' turn toward employers goes along with a tougher line on refugees and elderly people who want to join their families in Canada. The old points system gave applicants credit for family members in Canada, under "adaptability," but the new one does not. Jason Kenney, who preceded Alexander as immigration minister, tightened admissions of refugees on the grounds that too many "abuse our generosity or take advantage of our country."

    A court ruled that his cuts to spending on refugees' health care were cruel and unconstitutional, a decision that the government is appealing. Alexander is under fire for agreeing to admit only 1,300 refugees from Syria in 2014. He insists that Canada is taking more than its share, given the size of its population: About 2,400 Syrian refugees now are in Canada, and the government has promised to take in an additional 10,000 during the next three years.

    The new Canadians are younger and better educated than ever before, Alexander boasts.

    "Our immigrants have a much higher incidence of post-secondary degrees than the Canadian population at large," he said. That bodes well for Canada's future, but the idealism of the past is fading.

  • Immigration Alert: Latest on Canada provinces new schemes

    Several Canadian provinces have announced new immigration opportunities

    By Majorie van Leijen Published Saturday, January 24, 2015

    The various paths aspirant migrants can take to end up as a resident in Canada are increasing, as several provinces are offering immigration routes that integrate with the newly developed Express Entry system.

    From January this year Canada applies the Express Entry system in order to select new immigrants to the country.

    Applicants can express their interest to migrate by submitting their file to the federal government, hence adding their name to the Express Entry list.

    Once they are on the list, they may receive an invitation to apply based on the points they have earned through various criteria.

    Although immigration on the federal level has been completely submerged under this system, the individual provinces are free to develop their own selection and recruitment procedure, albeit residency is eventually provided by the government of Canada.

    Several provinces are now offering immigration routes where the procedures of application through the federal and provincial channel are integrated, making it easier for the applicant to reach their ultimate goal of living in Canada.

    In general, nomination through a provincial programme earns the applicant 600 points in the Express Entry system, which will most likely lead to an invitation to apply.

    British Columbia

    The Canadian province of British Columbia has added a new stream to its Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP) called Express Entry British Columbia (EEBC).

    This stream allows the province to nominate 1,350 more candidates for Canadian permanent residence than in the previous year.

    Under the EEBC, applicants are required to apply under the Express Entry system, as well as the provincial programme, each with its own requirements.

    In order to apply under the Express Entry system, the applicant must be eligible for one of the three running immigration streams; the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

    For more information on these programmes, click here.

    Once on the list, the applicant can apply for the EEBC, which runs three immigration streams: the Skilled Workers, International Post Graduates and International Graduates stream.

    The Skilled Worker category is for international skilled workers who have post-secondary education or training and employment experience in a professional, management, technical, trade or other skilled occupation.

    Candidates applying under this category must have a full-time permanent qualifying job offer in a skilled occupation from an employer in British Columbia.

    Candidates with a job offer in a regulated occupation that requires mandatory certification or licensing must demonstrate that they meet provincial requirements for the particular occupation when they make their application under this category.

    Specific interest goes out to health care professionals, with a direct demand for physicians, specialists, nurses or allied health professional such as diagnostic medical sonographers, clinical pharmacists, medical laboratory technologists, medical radiation technologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

    Application for the provincial programme is also possible without job offer, provided the applicant has completed studies in British Columbia.

    Individuals with a master's or doctoral degree in the sciences received within the past two years from an eligible program at a post-secondary institution in British Columbia may be eligible to apply under the International Post Graduate category.

    International graduates who have graduated from a Canadian university or college within the past two years may be eligible to apply under the International Graduates category

    Saskatchewan

    Saskatchewan has developed a new Express Entry sub-category allowing for the selection of 775 applicants without a job offer at hand.

    Similar to the EEBC, applicants must apply for the Express Entry system, requiring they are eligible under one of the three federal immigration programmes. Once this is done, the applicant may apply for provincial nomination.

    The Saskatchewan provincial programme adopts a point-based system, requiring the applicant to earn at least 60 points based on education and training, skilled work experience, language ability, age and connections to the Saskatchewan labour market.

    When eligible under these criteria and nominated by the province, the applicant will earn 600 points on the Express Entry System and likely receive an invitation to apply.

    Newfoundland And Labrador

    Newfoundland And Labrador has said that it will announce the details of a new provincial programme later this month, but has already revealed that it caters to applicants with a job offer from an employer in the province, and will be integrated with the Express Entry system.

    The applicant will have to be eligible under one of the three federal immigration programmes and submit an application for the Express Entry system. Then, application for the provincial programme can be submitted, and nomination will earn the applicant 600 points, which will most likely lead to an invitation to apply for Canadian residency.

    Currently the province runs a Skilled Worker and an Internation Graduate stream. In order to apply for the Skilled Worker stream, the applicant must have a full-time job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer, or a job or job offer that has compensation in the form of a salary and benefits package that meets provincial employment standards and prevailing wage rates.

    The International Graduates stream caters to those who have completed at least half of your studies in Canada and have graduated from an eligible publicly funded Canadian college or university.

    Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotia announced its new programme earlier this month and is different from the other programmes in that it offers candidates the option to apply through the Express Entry system, or directly through the provincial programme.

    A total of 350 applications will be accepted under the programme.

    Although a job offer is not a requirement, a point-based system applies, where the applicant must have a minimum of 67 points out of 100 to be eligible for application. With points awarded for qualifications such as education, language ability, work experience and age.

    Further, an occupation list dictates the labour categories available for application, and the applicant should have at least one year of work experience in one of the 29 categories on the list.

    The list includes occupations in the engineering, science, healthcare, finance and computing industries and is subject to change at any time.

    When applying throught he Express Entry system, the applicant will have to be eligible for one of the three federal immigration programmes.

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