A Bird in the Hand

August 28th, 2012

This well-known proverb concludes with the words “is worth two in the bush” and it means that it is preferable to have a small but certain advantage than the mere potential of a greater one.

I’ll tell you how this ties in with Canadian immigration.

During the course of the last few years and especially more recently, the Canadian government has become much more selective in whom it permits to submit an application for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program. In the not so distant past, if you were between the ages of 18 and 49, had a decent education, fairly good English language skills and a few years of skilled work experience, you could try your luck by submitting an FSW application. The end result was that there were way more applications in queue than there were visas to be issued. This led to processing delays of 8 or 9 years at Canadian visa offices in some countries.

Those days are gone and very likely will not return. In the last set of the Immigration Minister’s Instructions, the FSW application door was only open to a maximum of 10,000 individuals with work experience in a limited number of occupations. The limit was reached in early May and then the FSW door was slammed shut unless an applicant could come up with a Canadian job offer.

There was much anticipation as this past July 1st approached because on that date the Immigration Minister was expected to let the world know what it would take to be eligible to submit an application under the FSW program during the ensuing 12 months. To the disappointment of many would-be applicants, the only announcement the Minister made was of a temporary pause in the FSW program while it underwent major revision.

The government has now published the regulations for the new FSW program, which will come into effect on January 1st, 2013. Once again, there is great anticipation. I’m afraid, however, that some potential applicants will yet again be disappointed. While the pass mark will remain at 67 points, achieving that score may be challenging. For one thing, there is a greater emphasis on language proficiency and attaining a minimum level of fluency (Canadian Language Benchmark 7) will be an absolute requirement.

In addition, educational credentials will no longer be accepted at face value. They will have to be assessed for their Canadian equivalence, and this requirement will eliminate some otherwise well-qualified candidates. And don’t forget that points will now be deducted for applicants above the age of 35. Finally, while the Minister of Immigration has indicated that there will not be a limit/cap placed on specific occupations it is certainly expected that an overall cap on FSW applications will be put in place and at this time we do not know what that number will be. Even if someone is fortunate enough to be eligible to submit when the door finally opens, that door may very well close again, before a full application can be completed and submitted, because caps/limits will have been reached.

Aside from the FSW program, most of the other Canadian immigration programs require a job offer from a Canadian employer in order to qualify…not an easy task to accomplish. There is one notable exception and that is the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program. If an individual’s field of study/area of training is among the 111 that appear on the Quebec list then he or she may be eligible to submit an application.

The QSW is a points-based program and points are awarded for such factors as age, education, work experience and English/French language abilities. For many potential applicants, one way to increase their point total is to acquire some speaking and listening French language skills; reading and writing are not required. Quite often achieving low- or high-beginner ability in French is sufficient to make someone eligible to apply. Online French language training courses, such as Rosetta Stone, are available to make learning some French convenient even for busy individuals juggling work and family responsibilities.

No caps, no limits, no need to find a Canadian employer…just make an effort to learn some French and you have a good chance of coming to Canada.

Some people are pleased to learn that they will be eligible to submit an application under the QSW program by just taking on some French language skills. They are happy to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them. Others however, respond in a different way. They optimistically anticipate that they might be eligible at some time in the future to submit an application to the evermore selective FSW program.

I guess for them it’s all about the birds in the bush.

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9 Responses to “A Bird in the Hand”

  • On August 29th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    So if you apply under the QSW and you are able to come to Canada, do you have to permanently settle there or are you free to move around?

  • On August 29th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    You are not obliged to stay in Quebec after obtaining your PR status (landing), even though you must agree to sign a document which states that you intend to permanently reside in Quebec and not another province upon arrival.

  • On August 29th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    Are these new policies applied to applicants who submitted the FSW application in March 2012?

  • On August 29th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    What is the age limit for QSW program.

  • On August 29th, 2012, insa fall said ...

    bonjour monsieur COHEN j’ai lu dans votre blog ( un oiseau dans la main ) que j’ai bien compris d’ailleurs.merci du renseignement.vous m’aviez proposé de chercher du travail ,je vais suivre vos conseils.

  • On August 30th, 2012, sheikh shabbir m. said ...

    This is to thank you. your advice ! A bird in hand is worth two in the boush ! Thank’s

  • On September 4th, 2012, Siloo Kapadia said ...

    In other words, the early bird catches the worm. If you plan to move anywhere, do it ASAP. We jsut barely got into Singapore. Now Singapore is tightening it’s rules (again) due to the influx of foreigners, especially droves of rich Americanos and Chinese. If we had waited just one more year we would not be here today. Same with Canada. Immgrating anywhere is a big step, no matter who you are. If you are really gong to do it, as Nike says, “just do it.” Or else be happy with where you are.

  • On October 4th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    Do i need to sit for a french exam like IELTS to qualify if i applied for QSW?

  • On October 16th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    this scares me a lot..i am planning to lodge next year january and from reading everything here, seems that i am not qualified anymore..do you have any advice of what we aspiring applicants would do? Thanks!

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