Foreign students in Canada can now apply for immigration

August 13th, 2008 - 10:04 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Aug 13 (IANS) Canada Tuesday announced a new immigration class under which foreign students and temporary foreign workers can now apply for permanent residence from within Canada. Till now they had to apply for this status from their own native country where the process takes many years, including up to six years from New Delhi. Introducing the new Canadian Experience Class beginning in October, Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley said that certain categories of foreign workers and foreign students here will be eligible to apply from within Canada to become permanent residents and eventually citizens of this country.

To begin with, she said, about 12,000 to 18,000 people will be admitted each year under the new category. This number is eventually likely to go up to 25,000 a year - about 10 percent of the total number of new immigrants Canada admits each year, the minister added.

Currently, Canada has about 165,200 foreign workers and 74,000 foreign students, including about 4,000 Indians, who came here on work permit or student visas last year.

But not all foreign workers and students will be eligible for applying for permanent residence under the new class.

The minister said only those workers who are in managerial, professional, technical occupations and skilled trades will be eligible. Plus, they must have two years of work experience in their field and minimum skills in the English language.

Foreign workers employed as unskilled labourers, factory workers, farmers and other undocumented workers are not eligible under this programme.

Foreign students seeking to become eligible under this programme should have completed their graduation from a Canadian institution, and possess valid temporary resident status in Canada, one year of work experience and basic language skills.

The new immigration class is part of the current Tory government’s larger agenda of fast-tracking immigration in skilled categories and slowing it in others.

Since Canada has a backlog of over 900,000 applications for immigration, the government introduced a new immigration bill in the last session of the House of Commons, ostensibly to clear this backlog.

But its real aim was to give the government the sweeping powers to decide the number of immigrants to be admitted each year. Under the new law, the immigration minister can also fast-track immigration in certain categories, stop in others and direct missions abroad to process certain kind of applications.

The minister can also stop immigration even for applicants already cleared by Canadian missions. Many immigrant communities opposed the bill, fearing that it will delay entry for their family members waiting to be united with them in Canada.

Since most of the highly qualified immigrants cannot get jobs as employers insist on Canadian experience and qualifications, the minister said newcomers under the Canadian Experience Class will already have Canadian qualifications and work experience to get jobs. This will also ease their social and economic transition into Canadian society, she said.

“Choosing newcomers based on knowledge of our labour market and experience within Canadian society would make Canada a more attractive destination for skilled individuals from around the world,” the minister added.

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