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MINISTER ADJUSTS SKILLED WORKER PASSMARK AND PROPOSES CHANGES FOR ECONOMIC CLASS IMMIGRATION APPLICANTS AFFECTED BY IRPA TRANSITIONAL RULES

OTTAWA, September 18, 2003 -- The Honourable Denis Coderre, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, today announced an important decision and recommendation pertaining to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The Minister announced an adjustment to the pass mark for federal skilled worker applicants. Also, today he proposed new measures for assessing certain economic class applicants who applied under the former Immigration Act but were affected by transitional measures following implementation of IRPA on June 28, 2002.

The Minister's move to adjust the pass mark is a response to Canada's need for skilled workers. Effective immediately, all new skilled worker applicants and those currently in the system who have not yet received a selection decision, will be assessed with a pass mark of 67. (Since the implementation of IRPA and until today, the pass mark was 75.)

"An important objective of IRPA was to create a system that is flexible," said the Minister. "Today's changes to IRPA reflect this flexibility and our ongoing commitment to listen to the views of all stakeholders. We are responding to current circumstances in a way that continues to encourage skilled immigration within the confines of existing resources and a balanced plan."

Additionally, the Minister is proposing to amend the IRP transition regulations to allow for all skilled worker and business immigration applicants who applied before January 01, 2002 to be assessed under the selection criteria of the former Immigration Act. Applicants who do not qualify under the former Act would then be assessed under the current IRPA.

"The government's clear intention has always been to treat applicants fairly," explained the Minister. "That is why we introduced and then extended transition measures. The court has suggested that more is required of the government. I have listened to that message. That is why I am proposing these changes today."

The Minister plans to consult his Cabinet colleagues on the proposed regulatory amendments at the first available opportunity. The new pass mark takes effect immediately.

Backgrounder

Selecting Skilled Worker and Business Immigrants

 
The government has consulted widely and regularly since 1996 to build an immigration system that meets the needs of all involved -- from the applicants themselves to employers and communities that need skilled workers and the taxpayers who fund the immigration program in Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was the result of this analysis and consultation. It was implemented on June 28, 2002.

The inventory of skilled worker cases in process could not be cleared before the coming into force of IRPA. Therefore, in fairness, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) took several steps which included:

bulletextending the time in which these applications could be processed under the former selection grid from June 28, 2002 to March 31, 2003.
bulletprocessing these applications under a lower passmark (70 instead of 75)
bulletoffering a refund of processing fees to those who had not received a selection decision.

Some skilled worker and business applicants felt that the transition rules were not fair and took the department to Court. In February 2003, the Federal Court ordered that the applications of those involved in the lawsuit who had applied before January 1, 2002 be assessed under the former Act before March 31, 2003. CIC complied with that order.

For those who submitted their applications after January 1, 2002, the judge felt that they had been aware at the time they filed their applications that they would be processed under IRPA and that there was therefore no unfairness.

Following the Courts decision, many other people felt that their applications should also be reviewed. In June 2003, a Federal Court judge imposed an injunction on CIC, preventing the department from finally refusing any application which was filed prior to January 1, 2002. This injunction also requires the department to notify all applicants that could potentially be involved in a class action. CIC is in the process of complying with this injunction.

The courts have determined that, while they are legal, the transition provisions between the Immigration Act and IRPA are not as fair to applicants who applied before January 1, 2002 as the government had believed. The government has listened to that message. For that reason, Minister Denis Coderre is proposing to amend the transition regulations to allow economic class applicants (skilled workers and business immigrants) who filed their applications for permanent residence before January 1, 2002 to be assessed under the former Immigration Act (and then under IRPA if refused under the former Act). The Minister plans to consult his Cabinet colleagues on these proposed regulatory amendments at the first available opportunity.

These proposed amendments would meet the applicants' request to be processed under the selection criteria in place at the time they filed their applications and also give them the benefit of an assessment under IRPA.

CIC also proposes to offer the same processing to:

bulletthose people who had applied prior to January 01, 2002 and who were refused between the coming into force of the new selection grid on March 31, 2003 and June 20, 2003; and
bulletthose who withdrew their applications between January 01, 2002 and the coming into force of these proposed regulatory amendments.

Applicants in these last two groups will be required to advise CIC of their desire to be processed before January 01, 2005.

CIC does not propose to amend the regulations to allow applicants who applied to immigrate to Canada between January 1, 2002 and the coming into force of IRPA. These applicants were aware, at the time they filed their applications, that they would be processed under IRPA. The courts have not disagreed with the department's interpretation of the transition rules as they apply to this group.

Backgrounder

Pass Mark for Skilled Workers

 
In the new selection system the pass mark is the primary tool to balance the qualifications and quantity of Federal Skilled Worker immigrants. The Minister may amend the pass mark from time to time, to reflect the changes in Canadian labour market and in the broader economy and in society, as well as changing demands on the part of prospective immigrants to Canada.

The Minister set the Federal Skilled Worker pass mark at 75 points when the new selection system came into effect on June 28, 2002. On September 18, 2003, the Minister amended the pass mark for new skilled worker applicants to 67. The pass mark for skilled worker applicants currently in the system who have not yet received a selection decision will be also be 67.

A pass mark at that level will allow the Canadian economy to benefit from skilled immigrants and meet immigration goals.

Regulation 76 (2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations states that:

The Minister shall fix and make available to the public the minimum number of points required of a skilled worker, on the basis of

(a) the number of applications by skilled workers as members of the federal skilled worker class currently being processed;
(b) the number of skilled workers projected to become permanent residents according to the report to Parliament referred to in section 94 of the Act; and
(c) the potential, taking into account economic and other relevant factors, for the establishment of skilled workers in Canada.

Examples of who would qualify with a pass mark of 67:

High Education/Language Profile -- no connection to Canada
  Points  
Education 25 Master's or Ph.D.
Language 24 high proficiency
Experience 21 4 years experience
Age 0 54
Arranged Employment 0 None
Adaptability 0 None; does not meet any of the relevant criteria
TOTAL 70  
Moderate Education/Language Profile -- connection to Canada
Education 20 Bachelor's or two-year diploma
Language 8 moderate proficiency in 1 language
Experience 19 3 years experience
Age 10 40
Arranged Employment 0 None
Adaptability 10 Spouse has a master's degree; previous work experience in Canada
TOTAL 67  
Lower Education/Language Profile -- Arranged Employment
Education 12 one year diploma or trade certificate
Language 4 2 for each of 2 factors in one official language
Experience 21 4 years experience
Age 10 28
Arranged Employment 10 Yes
Adaptability 10 Relative in Canada + 5 for arranged employment
TOTAL 67  

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