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Youth and language proficiency new must haves for would-be immigrants

Youth and language proficiency new must haves for would-be immigrants

OTTAWA - The points system used to decide who can immigrate to Canada is getting a makeover.

The new judging criteria for the federal skilled worker program will award more points to younger immigrants and changes the way the government looks at work experience and education.

The way points are allocated for language ability will also change.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is set to unveil the details of the new system today.

The changes were hinted at in the government's March budget and laid out in detail in August.

An analysis of the new system published at the time suggested the current one doesn't meet Canada's needs and indicated that improvements could add millions to Canada's economy.

"Adding modest changes to points for language, age, and work experience would help refine the grid to put weight where it counts in the labour market, and select applicants that are younger and have strong language proficiency," the analysis said.

The points system sees would-be immigrants graded on a scale of 100, with points awarded for language ability, age, education, work experience and adaptability to Canada.

The pass mark is 67 and that won't change under the new system.

What is being amended is the way the points are allocated.

For example, the maximum number of points awarded under the age category was 10 and that was given to anyone between the ages of 21 to 49.

Under the new system, the maximum number of points awarded for age is 12, with 18 to 35 year olds eligible under that category.

When it comes to language, the new system mandates a minimum level of language proficiency and adjusts the number of points allocated accordingly to favour those with a strong command of either English or French.

But being bilingual will have less weight, with the ability to speak a second official language given fewer points.

The analysis said research has suggested that there's no evidence indicating speaking a second official language has any bearing on positive economic outcomes for applicants.

Under the education component, applicants will now have their credentials assessed ahead of time to see how they compare to the Canadian system and then points will be allocated to match.

Meanwhile, the number of points allocated for work experience will be reduced.

"Foreign work experience is largely discounted by Canadian employers when the immigrant first enters the Canadian labour market, and it is a weak predictor of economic success," the analysis said.

"These changes will reflect the relative value Canadian employers place on foreign work experience, and redirect points to language and age factors, which are better indicators of success in the Canadian labour market."

The overhaul of the points system is part of a three-pronged review of the skilled worker program carried out by the government over the last two years.

The other two elements are the introduction of a new immigration stream for skilled trades and changes to the Canada Experience Class, which allows people already working or studying in Canada to get permanent residency sooner.

All three are expected to generate some $90 million in increased revenue to Canadian businesses from a system that better meets their needs, the analysis said.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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