New rules ‘make it harder’ for older Britons to settle in Canada – my story in the Telegraph

17 Sep

Today the Telegraph has published a story I wrote on the plans to change Canada’s immigration rules.

It was a really interesting piece to research, and one of the most striking comments I came across was straight out of the government’s regulatory impact assessment (always the best place for juice – news hacks will know I’m not actually being sarcastic).

The bit that caught my eye was: “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.” This was based on detailed research, but feels like a slightly weird message at a time when workers are more internationally mobile than ever and busineses are increasingly globalised.

Talking to immigration consultants and lawyers, it doesn’t seem to be that the foreign work experience is seen as intrinsically invaluable or irrelevant, but that Canadian employers just like to stick to what they know. Rather than tackling this rather inward-looking culture, the government’s opted to simply reflect the status quo in its regulations.

Experts I spoke to also said Canadian authorities often struggled to verify foreign credentials, leading to doubts over professionals’ qualifications and delays in securing work, including for UK-trained doctors.

But there’s good news for the would-be skilled migrant. The same studies also suggested that, once an employer takes a chance on a foreigner, all that experience built up in lands far, far, away starts to be taken seriously.  And, as the article highlights, the emphasis on English language skills is growing under the new rules, making it easier for (most) Brits to settle here – as long as they’re under 35 and/or well-educated, working in a recognised profession.

The advice from the lawyers? Apply as soon as the federal skilled workers scheme re-opens (expected to be in January 2013); the current freeze means Canada could be inundated with applications. One source said applications were unlikely to be processed until 2014 unless they were submitted in the first three months.

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