How Canada’s new immigration system is going to impact South Asian men

Once it was just a sure shot; arrive in Canada as an international student, graduate with a diploma or degree, and simply file for permanent residency.

But with the latest changes in the immigration policies, which took effect on the 1st of January, the whole process is now a game of luck. The Canadian government draws out names from a large pool of applicants and then invites them to file for permanent residency.

For anyone intending to collect massive debts to sponsor his or her studies in Canada, hoping to get permanent residency later, must be careful now. Once such huge loans accumulate, one still has to compete with many other skilled employees to get the chance at the permanent residency, for only jobs for which there is no available Canadian worker.

The new policies have increased the odds for highly-skilled trades and professionals and added new challenges for international students in Canada. Rather than continue with the ‘first come, first serve’ system, the new immigration policies will fast-track candidates whose skills in more demand in Canada.

As a candidate, one is required to get an employment offer for advanced standing from Canada, even before one can apply for permanent residency.

The old Canadian immigration system was a total mess. In the year 2012, about 280,000 candidates were waiting for a response on their applications. The system had no coordination with the existing labor markets. More physicians were obtaining their permanent residency, whereas their odds to practice medicine in the country were quite small. All of this changed in 2012 after the government returned all under application under processing and started all over again.

Though the changes appear drastic, they are of more benefit to those whose odds of getting a job and adjusting in Canada.

Notwithstanding the changes, in 2015, the country still accepts over 172,000 job seekers below the economic class of migrants

Application Is Only By Invitation

The main difference in the new system is that it’s only the candidates that meet certain threshold will get invited to file a formal application to get permanent residency.

The two-tier system welcomes candidates to generate an online profile with the Canadian government. The new scoring algorithm will always automatically score the candidate, and the maximum attainable score is 1200. The response to the present needs of the labor markets, the government of Canada will pick out names from a pool of candidates again and again to get over 172,000 skilled employees within a year.

The changes in the new system assure that it is not overstrained by candidates who are not likely to adjust in the country.

Who wants to become an immigrant?

The new policies make a direct link between the skills sets of aspiring immigrants and the actual needs of the labor markets. The Canadian government has made the process a rather simple one for candidates to discover the labor market needs in Canada. The applicants have to visit the Canada job bank to learn more about the job vacancies.

Most readers of this blog may be surprised. Canada is not particularly in need of doctors, engineers, journalist or research scientists, as a matter of fact, most of the job vacancies, about 5,572 openings, are opened for retail sales clerks, and the next in demand are cooks.

This may sound appealing for South Asian aspirants with higher qualification: Canada is in need of cashiers, caregivers (nannies), and cooks not computer nerds.

The higher institution system in Canada produces just highly enough trained and educated professionals to fill in the vacancies for higher levels in applied sciences and engineering. Canada’s labor market is in need of skilled trades like electricians, truck drivers, plumbers, retail sector workers and, of course, caregivers to watch over the very old and very young.

The doctors and engineers who had migrated to Canada in the last 20 years had to learn this sad truth late after they entered the country. With the recent immigration system and policies, the aspirants are linked to jobs; this reduces the risk of having a mismatch between the labor market needs and the immigrants’ skills.

—Graphic drawn by Murtaza Haider using data (http://www.jobbank.gc.ca) on February 11, 2015.
—Graphic drawn by Murtaza Haider using data (http://www.jobbank.gc.ca) on February 11, 2015.

In the last 20 years, I have come in contact with several Canadian immigrants from South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe who claim to have deceived into moving into Canada. They get surprised at how difficult it was to get a good job, talk less of pursuing their careers as immigrants. As a matter of fact, the recent immigrants are the new face of urban poverty in the country, which I had reported earlier in the year 2012.

The immigrants have themselves to blame to a large extent.

The government of Canada also shares part of the blame for the old point method it uses to accept and qualify candidates for immigration. Even at the time Canada suffered severe shortage of truck drivers (this happens to be the most common profession for Canadian males), the government was still busy admitting engineers and doctors.

Rather than concentrating on younger applicants, they brought in more of middle-aged employees, who trained before computers became widespread. These older workers, though educated, were not necessarily trained for Canadian needs. Also, they were found it difficult to change their work ethics and habit. The outcome was vivid:

Canada has the most educated security guards and cab drivers in the world.

The new policies are not without inherent shortcomings and risks.

For example, the immigrant with an employment offer from Canada will get top priority to file for permanent residency. The invited aspirants will get up to 2 months to submit their formal application, and the Canadian government promises to complete the processing in 6 months. But the process can take about 8 months before it is endorsed and the applicant is granted entry in the country.

What employer will accept to hold a vacancy for up to 8 months for an employer who resides thousands of miles away?

However, the new policy and system do a better by setting the expectations of Canadian workers and immigrants. Although the critics of the new system are cagy of the discretionary powers given to the government, they have to understand that when immigrant employees fail to adjust in Canada successfully, the Canadian government will be responsible for supporting the family and relatives of unemployed employees.

By prioritizing applicants with skills that are in more demand, the system enhances the odds for new aspiring immigrants to be successful in the country and not to be a problem for the taxpayers.