Government of Canada Transforms Economic Immigration Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO  —   To create a fast and
flexible immigration system that creates jobs and promotes Canada’s
long term prosperity, the Government of Canada will eliminate the
backlog in the main federal economic immigration program.

“The Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog is a major roadblock to
Canada’s ability to respond to rapidly changing labour market needs,”
said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason
Kenney. “Having to process applications that are as many as eight
years out of date reduces our ability to focus on new applicants with
skills and talents that our economy needs today.”

As announced in Economic Action Plan 2012, Citizenship and
Immigration Canada is planning to refund fees and return stale
applications from nearly all those applicants who applied under the
dated criteria in existence before February 27, 2008.

CIC is transforming its suite of economic immigration programs to
create a just-in-time system that recruits people with the right
skills to meet Canada’s labour market needs, fast tracks their
immigration, and gets them working in a period of months, not years.
Eliminating the longstanding backlog of FSW applications will allow
the Department to focus resources on facilitating the arrival of
skilled immigrants who apply under the current eligibility criteria.

Under proposed legislation, CIC will close the files of FSW
applicants who applied before February 27, 2008, and for whom an
immigration officer has not made a decision based on selection
criteria by March 29, 2012. This is expected to affect around 280,000
applicants, including their dependants. CIC will begin the process of
returning the full amount of fees paid to the Department by these
affected FSW applicants. For those who have passed the selection
criteria stage – approximately 20,000 people – CIC will continue
processing their applications until they are approved for entry into
Canada or not.

Over the last decade, the number of FSW applications received has
greatly exceeded the space available within the Immigration Levels
Plan each year, resulting in long processing times and an increasing
inventory. Under the 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration, CIC
began to limit intake to priority occupations. The Department added
caps to the number of new applications in 2010. As a result of these
efforts, CIC has reduced the pre-2008 backlog by more than 50
percent, and the overall FSW inventory by over 25 percent. However,
without further action, some FSW applicants might have to wait until
2017 for a decision.

“It’s unreasonable to keep applicants waiting for another five
years,” said Minister Kenney. “It’s also a far cry from the nimble
and responsive immigration system Canada needs to remain a
destination of choice.”