News & Updates


The Canadian Experience Class: A Catch-22

March 11, 2014

In January 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced significant changes to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), including a reduction in the amount of time applicants are required to work in Canada before becoming eligible to apply -- from two years to one -- and the introduction of minimum language proficiency requirements.

As expected, CIC saw a huge increase in the number of applications that were filed after these changes became effective. Not surprisingly, a significant processing backlog began to grow, hampering the government’s ability to process applications within the one year timeframe that had previously been set as a way of promoting the CEC.

In November 2013, CIC announced that it would accept a maximum of 12,000 applications under the CEC during the following year, and introduced a further sub-cap of 200 applications to be accepted from those in NOC-B level positions; a number of NOC-B positions were altogether disqualified from eligibility under the category. These caps are intended to allow CIC to return to a processing standard that will allow temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to become permanent residents in Canada more quickly than under any other category.

The introduction of the processing cap has led many applicants to file their applications under the CEC as quickly as possible, in a rush to ensure that they receive a place in queue. However, this haphazard practice ignores the fact that an unprecedented 40% of CEC applications were refused last year. Further, since the cap was introduced, there has been a marked increase in the number of applications that CIC has returned for want of additional documentation. It is quite clear that CIC will not accept any application that does not include all of the required documentation, as a means of saving space under the CEC and reducing processing times.

Last year’s astonishing rate of refusal was reflective of two major problems:

  1. A number of applications were filed by workers whose work permits were issued for NOCs that did not match their actual job duties; and
  2. CIC was under pressure to clear the growing processing backlog, and thus officers appeared to refuse applications for minor issues, where they previously might have reached out to the applicant for clarification.

Accordingly, applicants now find themselves in a catch-22: if they take the time to prepare their applications with extra care, they may not get a place in the processing queue, but if they make even a minor error or omission in their application, it will be returned without processing. To make things even worse, CIC officers are refusing applications for mistakes that can consistently be traced back to another CIC officer, such as the selection of an inappropriate NOC code by the officer who processed the work permit application.

Our firm has extensive experience working with employers and individuals to develop and execute strategies that help temporary foreign workers to ensure that the first thing they do in Canada – obtain their work permit – sets them on the right path to permanent residence. We are also skilled in the preparation of applications for permanent residence under the CEC and other categories.

Tags: Canadian Business Immigration


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