Elimination of Federal Skilled Worker Program Backlog

April 1, 2012 – As part of the federal budget released on March 30th, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that it will not process the majority of skilled worker applications submitted before February 27th, 2008. CIC explains that the reason for such a measure is due to the backlog of permanent resident applications. CIC predicts that this will affect approximately 280,000 applications. For those files that are returned to the applicants, fees paid will be refunded.

Applications are first selected for processing based on certain criteria and then processed to determine whether or not to grant permanent residence. Those submitted before February 27th, 2008 and not yet selected for processing by March 29th, 2012, will likely be returned. However, approximately 20,000 applications have passed the “selection criteria stage” and will be processed to determine eligibility for permanent residence.

This is the most recent in a series of very tough measures meant to reduce the total permanent residence application backlog.

Until February 2008, CIC was obligated to fully process each application. However, following CIC’s Action Plan for Faster Immigration, rules came into effect on February 27th, 2008 that limited the number of applications processed to only those that met new eligibility criteria. Only new applicants who met this selection criteria would have their applications processed, others would not. At that time, CIC stated there was a backlog of nearly 600,000 Federla Skilled Worker applications.

The existing selection criteria (which applies to applications made on or after July 1st, 2011) includes the need to show either an offer of employment (for a ‘skilled’ worker), at least two years of a PhD program completed, a PhD completed no more than 12 months before the application is submitted or a year of experience in one of 29 listed occupations in the National Occupation Classification (NOC).

In 2010, CIC imposed a cap on the number of new applications considered for permanent residence under the NOC category. Currently, the cap is 10,000 applications per year starting July 1st, 2011 (which has already been reached) and a cap of 500 applications per occupation listed.

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