Canadian Experience Visa Class offers faster option for permanent residency

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Canada is attracting increasing numbers of economic immigrants applying for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Visa immigration stream, according to Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. The program fast-tracks permanent residency visa applications for skilled temporary foreign workers and graduate students who have spent time in Canada on temporary visas.

According to the press release by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada's Experience Visa, created in 2008, is one of Canada's most recent programs aimed at ensuring Canada retains a skilled work force "and motivated individuals who have demonstrated a strong work ethic, have an ability to contribute to the economy, and will easily integrate into Canadian life".

In order to be eligible for the visa class, applicants must be either: a temporary foreign worker with at least two years of full-time skilled work experience in Canada, or a foreign graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution with at least one year of full-time skilled work experience in Canada. Applicants must be fluent in English or French and apply while working in Canada or within one year of leaving their job in Canada.

Before the program was created, highly skilled foreigners could not become permanent residents from within Canada. "We'd tell them to leave the country because their temporary foreign work permit or student visa had expired" after they'd completed two years of contract work here or obtained a degree at a Canadian university," Kenney recalled.

Kenney expects the number of candidates for Canada's Experience Visa to rise to 7,000 in 2012, up from 2,545 in 2009. Last week, Canada welcomed its 10,000th permanent resident who came in through this stream since its inception in 2008. It is currently Canada's fastest-growing immigration program.

Canada has continued to admit an average of 254,000 immigrants each year.

"We're maintaining the highest per capita levels of total immigration in the developed world, with, I think, the sole exception of New Zealand," said Kenney.

"The CEC and the PhD initiative represent what we hope is the future of immigration to Canada: bright young people who have a Canadian education or work experience that will be recognized by Canadian employers, and who have strong English or French language skills," said Kenney. "Such newcomers are set for success."

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