October 31, 2012
Foreign students, temp workers jump to front of immigration line
By Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is trying to change the mix of immigrants coming to Canada by favouring foreign students and temporary foreign workers already in the country.
He says up to 10,000 immigrants with marketable skills, who are already familiar with Canadian society and have knowledge of either French or English, should be on the fast-track to permanent residency in 2013.
"Immigrants coming through the Canadian Experience Class are more likely to quickly succeed based on our data as being typically younger workers with Canadian degrees and diplomas," Kenney said Wednesday. "What we're looking for is newcomers who are set for success as soon as they get their permanent residency."
As a result, Canada will reduce the intake of foreign skilled workers - those who arrive with foreign work experience and education in hopes of landing a job in Canada.
Kenney says the immigration system has shifted to actively recruit prospective immigrants who have already gained Canadian experience.
"Now, we're actually going across the country meeting with foreign students in Canada encouraging them, if they'd like, to stay," he said.
The number of immigrants applying under the Canadian Experience Class has been on the rise since 2009 when about 2,500 people were admitted under that category.
The Conservatives plan to keep the overall target for new permanent residents between 240,000 and 265,000 this year.
The overall target has been stable since 2006.
The Tories say they'll keep the full breakdown of their immigration target under wraps until Monday.
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims says she's not impressed by Kenney's announcement.
"They have failed to address the family reunification class," Sims said. "With the numbers being the same I'm really concerned with the length of time people are going to have to wait."
Wait times vary considerably for family class immigrants, from as little as nine months for some spouses to as long as almost five years for some grandparents.