New changes fast-track skilled immigrants that Canada needs

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People who possess the skills Canada needs will soon find their application for immigration fast-tracked.

Bill C-50, the so-called Budget Implementation Act, 2008, passed both the Canadian House of Commons and the Senate. The bill contains provisions which will allow immigration authorities to speed up the application process for skilled immigrants with shortage skills.

"Our government believes in immigration," said Immigration Minister Diane Finley. "With these changes, we now have the tools in place to strengthen our system so that people with the skills for the jobs available can be brought to Canada more quickly."

Following consultation with provinces and territories, Canada will implement "processing priorities" in an attempt to stem the growing backlog of immigration applications. Previously, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was required to process each application through to a final decision in the order it was received. This is no longer a requirement.

However, the new changes only apply to applications received on or after 27 February 2008. There are currently 925,000 people waiting for a decision on their immigration applications, with some waiting up to six years. Without the new bill, the backlog was expected to grow to 1.5 million by 2012.

"The changes bring Canada in line with the practices of countries such as Australia and New Zealand, who are able to welcome skilled immigrants much faster, often in as little as six months," said CIC in a release.

Now that the bill has successfully passed, Finley said the next step was to launch consultations with Canadian provinces and territories and other experts to ensure that they "accurately define the priorities for immigration".

"Once we've determined Canada's immigration needs, we can develop a set of instructions to guide the processing decisions of immigration officers, including whether applications are prioritized, retained or returned with a refund," Finley said.

According to CIC, research has shown that the demand for skilled foreign workers in Canada is growing. Immigration is expected to account for all labor force growth in Canada by 2012. For those who possess the skills Canada needs, now has never been a better time to apply for immigration to Canada.

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