On November 29, 2008, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada (CIMC) Minister Jason Kenney announced changes to the way Federal Skilled Worker applications will be processed.
The changes are in immediate effect and retroactively apply to all Federal Skilled Worker applications submitted on or after February 27, 2008.
Candidates who have at least one year of continuous full time or equivalent paid work experience in any of 38 highly sought-after occupations, such as IT Managers or Accountants, will have their applications processed within six to twelve months, according to the Minister.
The same expedited processing will apply for Canada Immigration Visa applicants with Arranged Employment in Canada and Canada Immigration Visa applicants who have been living in Canada legally for at least one year as Temporary Foreign Workers or International Students.
All other Federal Skilled Worker applications submitted after February 27, 2008 will be returned with a full refund of government processing fees. Applications that had been submitted before that date will be processed within the time frames that were in place at the time that the applications were submitted.
Canadian Immigration Lawyer David Cohen says that he welcomes any changes that will result in applications being processed faster. However, he states that these changes must be fair to all applicants, whether they have submitted their applications before or after February 27, 2008.
"I am in favour of anything that results in streamlining the system, but it must be done with fairness," Cohen says. "At first glance, these changes seem to be unfair to Skilled Worker Applicants who applied before February 27, 2008."
Applicants whose work qualifications fall under the 38 open occupations, who applied after February 27, 2008 will see the processing of their applications accelerated, while applicants in the same occupations who applied before that date, and have been waiting for years, will have to continue to wait.
"I suppose they will have to withdraw their applications and submit new ones in order to benefit from these changes," Cohen says.