Canadian immigration announces new caps for skilled worker programs

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced new caps for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Programme (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The new caps will be operational from 1st May 2014 and will be available for visa applicants until the introduction of the new Express Entry skilled immigration system in 2015.

In addition, there will be a new list of eligible occupations for the FSWP. The number of occupations on the list will be increased from 24 to 50.

Full details will be released shortly.


The FSWP, the FSTP and CEC are Canada's three main federal skilled immigration programs.
  • The FSWP is for highly educated applicants, usually with university degrees,
  • The FSTP is for skilled tradespeople like plumbers, construction workers and carpenters and
  • The CEC is for foreign nationals with at least 12 months' work experience in a skilled role in Canada.

In 2015, CIC will introduce a new skilled immigration system which will handle applications under all these programs. The Express Entry system will be an 'expression of interest' (EOI) system based on Australia's SkillSelect system.

Expression of Interest

Applicants will submit an initial EOI to CIC. This will include details of their qualifications, work experience, language skills, age and other details. These details will be placed on a database. Canadian employers seeking skilled foreign workers because of skills shortages in Canada will be able to view the details of suitable candidates.

Successful candidates who are selected by employers will then be invited to make a formal application for a Canadian permanent resident visa. At this point, they will be required to provide proof of the claims made on their EOI. They will be issued with a Canadian permanent residence visa if all the details are verified and if they can show that they

  • Are in good health,
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Can support themselves on arrival in Canada

Caps until January 2015

The Express Entry system is due to be introduced in January 2015. The caps will limit the number of applications that can be made under the three visa streams before the new system is introduced.

The Express Entry system was originally proposed by the former immigration minister Jason Kenney, who is now Canada's employment minister. In 2012, there was a backlog of approximately 600,000 applications waiting for resolution.

As a result, applicants were waiting for as much as eight years to have their cases dealt with. Mr Kenney felt that this meant that the system was not responsive to the needs of Canadian businesses or of the As a result, the then immigration minister Jason Kenney terminated all applications made before March 2008, slashing the backlog by half. He said that the backlog would be cleared by 2016.


The caps are as follows
  • FSWP – Up to 25,000 applications will be accepted. Current immigration minister Chris Alexander says that limiting the FSWP to 25,000 applications will enable CIC to devote time to dealing with the FSWP backlog before Express Entry is introduced.
  • FSTP – Up to 5,000 applications will be considered. There are 90 trades listed on the FSTP eligible occupations list. There are caps of 100 applications for many of these trades
  • CEC – Up to 8,000 applications will be accepted before the introduction of Express Entry
Mr Alexander said 'We look forward to the launch of Express Entry next January, which will be a major step forward in attracting the skilled workers we need and have them working in Canada faster'.

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