Canada to start rolling out new immigration scheme

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Canada has announced that, starting on 17 September 2008, certain temporary foreign workers and students will be allowed to apply for permanent residence under a new immigration scheme called the Canadian Experience Class.

The Canadian Experience Class is a new immigration program for certain temporary foreign workers and international student graduates with professional, managerial, and skilled work experience. Citizenship and Immigration Canada stated that unlike other immigration categories, the Canadian Experience Class allows an applicant's previous experience in Canada to be a "key selection factor" when immigrating to Canada.

Canada is attempting to revamp its immigration policies to make the country more attractive to overseas talent. Canada is facing competition not only from its American neighbor to the south, but also countries such as the UK and Australia that also have aggressive skilled immigration policies in place.

"With the Canadian Experience Class fully in place, Canada will be more competitive in attracting and retaining individuals with the skills we need," said Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley.

"It, along with other recent improvements to modernize the immigration system, will go a long way in bringing Canada in line with its global competitors while further spreading the benefits of immigration into smaller centres across Canada," she added.

The plans for the Canadian Experience Class have changed since it was initially proposed in August 2008. Under the new plans, those who have left Canada but otherwise meet the requirements as workers or graduates may apply under the Canadian Experience Class program provided they do so within one year after leaving their job in Canada.

Under the initial proposal, only those who currently had temporary residence in Canada would have been eligible.