Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Canadian Immigration 1: Paths to Immigration

Let’s address the first question: how do you qualify for immigration to Canada? What are the most common paths?

First off, let us lay down some definitions first. There is a difference between an OFW (Overseas Foreign Worker) and an immigrant. An OFW is a contract worker bound by an employment contract. He remains a Filipino citizen during the duration of his stay in a foreign country and is required to leave once the contract runs out. While an immigrant on the other hand is a permanent resident of the country he is accepted in and with respect to Canadian immigrants, he has all the rights of a Canadian citizen except the right to vote. He can opt to hold dual citizenship but most immigrants prefer to permanently change to single citizenship for the added security and benefits.

So in other words, and I will be frank about it, immigrants are technically leaving the Philippines behind for good in the long run. Some will go back for vacation or other matters, maybe even during retirement but majority won’t anymore. The first generation will probably return but the next generations become officially aliens to the home country. That’s the truth.

But those ramifications come later. For now, I’ll address the first question.

How to qualify?

There are many ways

Qualify as a Skilled worker  
For Filipinos, this is the second most common way of qualifying as an immigrant. Originally, it required a waiting period of five or more years and currently shortened for specific professions. To qualify, you must first determine if your profession/degree is listed on the shortlist which you can find by clicking this link (not that the list changes with time): http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/apply-who-instructions.asp#list (as of July 1, 2011). If your occupation is listed, you are required to have at least one year of paid full-time or qualified part time work in the last ten years to qualify (note: Canadians place special emphasis on experience – that’s true on the qualification process and in job applications)

If your profession is listed and you have the requisite experience, then technically you can apply. Either you use an immigration consultant (recommended by me if you are not particularly detailed and if you are easily cowed down by fear of authority  - but it will cost you) or you can initiate your own application by first assessing yourself by following the directions on this page: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/tool/index.asp and this assessment test by clicking this link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/assess/index.asp . If you pass the assessment tests, there is a ‘good’ (note that it is not 100 percent sure) possibility that you can qualify.

You then need to complete the initial requirements which includes the following (please note the official website for the more up-to-date information)

Then you need to follow the procedures enumerated on this website to complete your application: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/apply-how.asp
To summarize, you need to download and fill up the application, complete police and other clearances, your language (IELTS) results which must give you enough points to fulfill the necessary point requirement. You must also prepare your necessary processing fees and the required settlement fund requirement. (Note: BE HONEST at all times or you will be rejected and you can never hope to be considered again.

Once you complete all the steps in the official website, it’s now a waiting game. Usually, you have to wait first for the acknowledgement letter from the receipt of your application package, then after it has been evaluated, you wait for further for the submission of more complete documentation, then you wait again and then if you qualify, you will be sent a letter requesting a medical test for you and your family and if nothing comes up and you qualify, you will be receiving a letter of acceptance and you submit your passport for the attachment of an immigrant visa.

It is pretty straightforward but it is not as easy as it looks.

Currently, there is a limitation of the number of slots available: (as of the time of this post (July 5, 2011) only 500 per listed profession is allotted for the next twelve months (which is half of the previous 1000 per profession before July 1, 2011). See the trend, the number of slots gets lower and lower  with each year and if the trend continues, it will get to the point where a lot of people will be fighting for limited slots.

So what this means is that even if you are qualified, if you the slots of your profession is filled up, you are not in the pool for assessment. And you must also remember that you will be competing with not just pinoys  but also other immigrant applicants from China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, UK, Europe and other countries. You see what I mean. Note, dear readers that we are not the only ones applying for immigrant slots.  The whole world is competing.

And Filipinos are losing their edge on skills. That’s a fact and though we still have the advantage of our English proficiency and our industriousness, the rest of the world is adapting.

Provincial Nominee
This by its name is based on the province doing the recruitment. What you need to do is to go to the particular province and follow their required processes on this link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/provincial/apply-who.asp . This is the third most common path to immigration although the slots on this program are dependent upon the province where you are applying for.  And please honor your contracts and stay with the province that nominated you (you’ll know what I mean when you get here.

This method usually takes a much longer time for processing as compared to the Skilled worker program stated above.

Investors, Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed
This is probably the surest way to get immigrant status in Canada. The catch you need to have CD $ 800,000 to invest or manage a business in Canada. In Philippine peso at 44.50 conversion that is PHP 35.6 Million. So if you have that kind of money lying around, apply. More information can be found on this link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/business/index.asp.

As you may surmise, only the privileged few can avail of these slots. Mostly moneyed investors and business people.

Contract Workers/Temporary Foreign Workers
There are more than 150,000 foreign workers a year entering Canada. Some get to avail of permanent residency status (Which will be tackled by the next post). The new rules in effect as of April 1, 2011, has changed this method, however. More information can be found in this link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/index.asp . I will try to address the issues raised by the new rules on one of my next blog post (which see)

The most popular of course is the live-in-caregiver program. Majority of the original immigrants currently in Canada are those from this program and currently, they are the unsung heroes in the immigrant group here.

So why immigrate on the first place? And why Canada?

I’ll address that on the next blog.


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