International graduates and temporary foreign workers have established themselves in Canadian society and are well-poised to become Permanent Residents and eventually Canadian citizens. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a new immigration category, has been created specifically to facilitate this transition. Recognizing their Canadian education and/or work experience, the Canadian Experience Class will fast-track their Canadian immigration applications, to ensure that Canada retains these valuable contributors to the Canadian economy and work force. Under the CEC, these applicants can remain in Canada throughout the processing of their applications.
With the significant increase of temporary foreign workers in Canada and the recent expansion of the Post-Graduation Work Permit for international graduates, it has become increasingly important to have an immigration category that recognizes the investment that these workers and their employers and educators have made to the Canadian economy.
Before the introduction of the Canadian Experience Class, temporary foreign workers and international graduates who wished to immigrate to Canada usually had to do so under the Federal Skilled Worker category, and were subject to the same processing times as all other applicants. Many were obliged to leave Canada in order to make their application.
Under the CEC, applications will receive priority processing and can be made from within Canada, so as not to disrupt the applicants’ work schedules.
Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Minister Diane Finley notes that the CEC makes Canada a more attractive destination for international students and foreign workers:
“International students and skilled workers would be more likely to choose Canada if they knew their time in Canada and contribution to Canadian society would assist in their eligibility to apply to stay permanently.”
CIC expects to start taking applications this fall. Between 12,000 and 18,000 Permanent Residents will be admitted under this category on a yearly basis, with as many as 25,000 projected for future years.
In order to qualify, applicants must have valid temporary resident status in Canada at the time of application and they must have moderate or basic language abilities, depending on the skill level of their occupation.
For international graduates with Canadian work experience, applicants must have successfully completed a program of study of at least two academic years at a Canadian post-secondary educational institution and obtained at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience within the past 24 months.
For temporary foreign workers, applicants must have obtained at least two years of skilled, professional or technical work experience within 36 months of the application date.
In 2007, Canada was home to more than 175,000 international students and over 200,000 temporary foreign workers.