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New Permanent Residence Caps and Occupational Restrictions under the Canada Experience Category Announced

On November 8, 2013, the Harper Government announced that a maximum of 12,000 new permanent residence applications in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) will be considered for processing each year. Under the CEC application process, the applicant must have claimed at least 12 months of work experience in one or more eligible NOC Skill Type 0, Skill Level A or B occupations.  This cap year will begin on November 9, 2013, and end on October 31, 2014, and subsequent years will be calculated from November 1 to October 31.

Up to 200 complete applications for each occupation at Skill Level B per the 2011 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) will be considered for processing each year within the 12,000 cap.  In addition, the government has now restricted six occupations for which work experience cannot be used to qualify for the CEC (ineligible occupations). These are listed below: administrative officers, administrative assistants, accounting technicians and bookkeepers, retail sales supervisors, food service supervisors and cooks.

This announcement has been met with great disappointment by members of the foreign graduate student community, currently in Canada on post-graduate open work permits. Unfortunately, the occupation restrictions will mean that many post-graduate work permit holders will no longer qualify under the CEC permanent residence category.  These would-be applicants have specifically sought positions in these (now restricted) occupations in order to accumulate the one year of required experience necessary to qualify for the CEC category. Based on this change in policy, they are now ineligible to apply for permanent residence, unless they first obtain a Labour Market Opinion from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Whilst the new rules do not apply retroactively, this sudden and unanticipated announcement will affect thousands of work permit holders seeking to qualify for permanent residence to Canada under the CEC category.  This policy change means that all new applications will be assessed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and will be adjudicated based on existing immigration law, in addition to occupation eligibility and occupational and overall cap thresholds.

Parent and Grandparent Permanent Residence Sponsorship Program To Re-open In January 2014

The Parent and Grandparent Permanent Residence Sponsorship Program (PGP) will start accepting applications again in January with new eligibility criteria for sponsors and a cap of 5,000 applications per year.  Sponsors seeking to benefit from this program should commence the application process immediately, as it is anticipated that the cap will be filled within a few days after the category opens.

For further information about the PGP or CEC categories, please refer to our previous newsletters on these subjects or contact our office.