Canada to begin consultation on immigration priorities

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Consultations will begin soon to determine critical occupation shortages and barriers to foreign credential recognition. The consultations come in the wake of new Canadian immigration legislation which grants authorities the ability to fast-track badly needed skilled migrants.

The consultations are expected to result in guidance for immigration officers on which applications should receive priority processing, especially in the federal skilled worker category.

"The changes to Canada's immigration law allow us to bring to Canada more quickly those immigrants with the skills that match Canada's labour market needs," Immigration Minister Diane Finley said while announcing the consultations. "We are now consulting to make sure we accurately define those needs. This will help our economy and help newcomers better support their families."

The consultations will begin 07 July 2008 for provinces, territories and other key stakeholders through a series of meetings. Representatives from businesses, academia, and non-government organizations will all be invited.

"I believe this inclusive approach will help identify the categories of workers who get priority, and will allow us to prepare instructions that reflect the knowledge and expertise of the provinces, territories and stakeholders," Finley said.

Canada's 2008 immigration plans include accepting 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents. To meet this goal, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that their representatives around the world will continue to process applications submitted before 27 February 2008, the date that the new legislation took effect.

Applications received on or after 27 February 2008 will be placed on hold until immigration officers receive instructions resulting from the consultations. However, federal skilled worker applicants who already have a job waiting for them in Canada will be processed.

The new legislation will not affect skilled workers in Quebec, nor any agreements with provinces to process Provincial Nominee Program applicants. Applications in these categories will be processed in the usual way.