Quebec Skilled Worker and the Damascus Office

For the safety of its clients and staff as well as for maintaining the proper treatment of its immigration cases in the current context in some parts of the Middle East, the Department of Immigration and Cultural Communities chose to close the Quebec Immigration Office in Damascus as of May 31, 2011. Immigration activities held there will now be conducted from the department offices in Montreal.

This news involves no changes to the business category clients, whose treatment has already been based in Montreal in recent years.

Selection interviews conducted by the Ministry with the candidates from Middle East will be held on neighboring territories easily accessible for clients. This practice, common to the Department, is already used in different territories.

The Department is looking forward to continue its activities from the Middle East with the same diligence as quickly as possible.

Federal Skilled Worker – Proposed changes

The proposed changes which are expected to occur in conjunction with the release of the new occupation list will most likely begin early July of 2011. The changes don’t alter the selection criteria established in 2002 – the proposals would affect the number of points assigned to the criteria and the way they are assessed. Please see below for details on this.

Proposed changes to Language

A 2005 Statistics Canada study found that employment rates of immigrants increased with their ability to speak an official language. It also found that language proficiency had the biggest impact on the immigrant’s ability to work in either a high-skilled profession or their intended field.

  • However, the current selection system only awards a maximum of 16 points for high proficiency in the first official language
  • Applicants can meet the pass mark with only basic, or even no proficiency, in an official language

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Increase maximum points for the first official language from 16 to 20 points
  • Introduce minimum language requirements based on occupation

Proposed changes to Age

Research has shown that age at immigration is a significant factor in immigrant outcomes. Immigrants who arrive between the age of 20 and 30 have been found to have the greatest economic impact on the receiving country. Younger immigrants have higher rates of employment and earnings than older immigrants. By contrast, immigrants aged 45 years and older experience unemployment rates almost double those aged 25-34 years.

  • Younger immigrants are more likely to acquire Canadian work and study experience, adapt more quickly to their new environments and make a greater contribution to the economy

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Award maximum points until age 35, with a sequential levelling off to 49 – no age points awarded after age 50
    • Encourages younger immigrants to apply early to get maximum points – older applicants can still qualify, but will need high points in other factors
  • Increase weight of age on the grid from 10 to 12 points

Proposed changes to Education

Education points are currently awarded based on the credential (such as a post-secondary diploma) and the number of associated years of education. The years of education requirements is intended to help ensure the quality of the credential. However, the years of education required reflect Canadian educational systems and do not take into account country-to-country variants in school system.

  • Skilled tradespersons and technicians who have a credential in their selected trade, but not the required years of education are disadvantaged and lose points

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Reduce the number of years of education required to claim points for a trade or non-university post-secondary credential

This change would improve access for skilled tradespersons, technicians and apprentices who have valid post-secondary qualifications, but not the required number of years of study

Proposed changes to Work Experience

The Federal Skilled Worker program places more weight on work experience than other countries. The overall value of work experience points in the selection grid represents too large a share. Currently, with as little as four years of foreign work experience, an applicant has already earned 21 of the points required to meet the pass mark of 67.

  • However, foreign work experience is a weak predictor of success in the Canadian labour market

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Decrease the points allotted to work experience from 21 to 15 points
    • Allows points to be redirected to language proficiency and age
  • Increase the range within which points are allotted
    • Ensures that applicants have more experience in order to earn maximum points

Proposed changes to the Arranged Employment Offer

Arranged employment has several advantages for immigration purposes. It allows applicants to earn an immediate 15 points on the grid, and waives the requirement to have a certain amount of money set aside to prove that they are able to be self-sufficient in Canada.

  • However, these advantages have made this part of the program susceptible to exploitation by people attempting to immigrate with a fraudulent job offer

Therefore, CIC is proposing to:

  • Strengthen regulatory provisions and definitions to support a more rigorous up-front assessment of the employer and job offer
  • Enhance the authority for visa officers to assess the validity of the job offer and the applicant’s ability and likelihood to perform that employment

Overview: Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid

Selection based on objective factors: Current System Maximum points: Proposed System Maximum points:
Education1 25 25
Language 24 28
Work Experience 21 15
Age2 10 12
Arranged Employment 10 10
Adaptability 10 10
Total: 100 100

The political unrest in Syria, the Damascus Visa Office and what it means to you

As most of you know, the situation in Syria has gotten worse. This has resulted in the Canadian visa officers moving to other offices in nearby countries like Greece, Turkey, Poland, France and others. This means that many of the applications have also been forwarded to other visa offices. There are still people working in the Damascus visa offices, but they are assistants and junior members. The Quebec province immigration office has totally shut down and is now working in other visa offices in nearby regions as well.

So what does mean to you if you have an application there?

This will most likely increase the processing times for applications. We are also noticing an increase in errors committed by Immigration Canada. We continue to try to keep ourselves up to date and make sure that we protect our clients the best we can by seeking updates and making sure that the visa office follows the proper procedures.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please either email us or leave your question in the comment section of this post.

CICS Client Communication Procedure

At CICS Immigration, we strive to keep our standards high. We take pride in the quality of our work and we know that a successful business must have a successful service/product.

In one day, we may receive over 60 emails. Emails are ranked based on their urgency. For example, an email from a client who has a deadline approaching, will most likely receive a quicker respond than someone whose matter is not as urgent. We usually attempt to respond to these emails within 2-3 days of when we have read them. This means that emails sent on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and on holidays, will be seen on the following business day.

Because not everyone is fluent in Farsi at our office, emails that are written in Farsi can only be responded to by certain members of our team and this could mean that they might receive a slower response.

It is also important to note that some emails are wrongfully sent to the spam folder. In case you do not receive a response to your email within 3 days, we appreciate if you contact us (another email account or phone call) to make sure that the email has been received. We also appreciate if our dear clients would acknowledge the receipt of our emails.

Sometimes, our clients ask us why we have not contacted them about their immigration process. The reason is because in immigration applications, there are usually long waiting times, which can take between 6 months to 3 years. This is when the application is in line, waiting to be processed. So unless there is a need for us to contact our clients, we wait until there is an update in the application.

One last note that we’d appreciate if our clients would know, is that the immigration office does not take phone calls. They only respond to emails and not to all emails. They do not like receiving too many emails about an application as they are quite busy as well.

If you have any other questions or concerns about our processes, please ask.