Monday, January 9, 2012

Occupation not in the list - What are my immigration options

It is a common question these days asked by the aspirants who wish to make Canada their home: "My occupation is not in included in the list of "in-demand occupations" (also termed as the "priority occupation list"). What are my options if I was to immigrate to Canada?"

For a highly qualified individual, it is sometimes difficult to realize that their application is not eligible for processing. Some of them are not very happy to learn that they do not qualify to immigrate to Canada. It is understandably difficult for them to realize that they are no eligible just because they do not meet one of the mandatory requirement  introduced by the Canadian government in recent times. That is to have at least one year of full time, paid and continous work experience in one of the occupations listed in the "priority occupation" list.

As per the current requirements for Federal Skilled Worker Class of Canada's Immigration Program, one must have at least one year of full time/full time equivalent paid and continuous work experience in at least one of the occupations identified as high demand occupations eligible for processing by the Minister of Immigration in his Ministerial Instructions (MIs). So far, there have been 3 MIs issued since November 2008 with changes in occupations as well as the number of applications allowed each year. Currently, there are only 29 occupations eligible for processing and only 500 applications allowed for processing each year at the time of writing of this post. The full list of eligible occupations can be viewed at

While it may seem impossible for many to come to Canada as a skilled worker given that their occupation is not included in the current priority list, there are still other ways people could immigrate to Canada. Let's discuss them today.

1: Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) or Provincial Nominee Programs for Skilled Workers

Individuals who have the opportunity of being offered a job in Canada by a Canadian employer with a view that the job will be available to the person after he/she has landed in Canada as a permanent resident, can by bypass the requirement of having at least one year of experience in one of the occupation listed in the priority list.  This could be the time to tap your Canadian contacts and see if you could be offered such an opportunity. However, you should remain wary of the offerings made by the unauthorized agents in the market offering jobs or should one say "selling" job offers letter. It is illegal to charge money for arranging a job in Canada. It is important to note that a job offer letter alone is not sufficient. The employer has to lodge a formal application to the labour department in Canada, also called Service Canada, to have that offer opinionated. In doing so, the Service Canada reviews the criteria established to approve or reject the application. If approved, the applicant submits the Federal Skilled Worker Application to the processing post with the positive opinion of the Service Canada. Not only the applicant get to bypass the occupation list, he/she is also awarded extra 15 points on the selection grid. The current pass mark is 67 and these additional points go a long way in reaching to to it. In the case of a provincial nominee program for skilled workers you must have a job offer from an employer based in the particular province you are considering immigrate to.

2: Canada Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Programs for students:

International students studying in Canada enjoy the benefit of applying for permanent residence after completion of their studies under the Canada Experience Class. It is a relatively new category very suitable for those who wish to continue residing in Canada after securing a Canadian degree. Students can also consider applying for permanent residence via provincial nominee programs for international students being administered by various provinces. Many people have considered coming to Canada to acquire a world-class degree and eventually becoming a Canadian permanent resident if they so desire after the completion of their studies.

3: Provincial Nominee Programs for businessmen and Investor Programs

A lot of people think that the provincial business immigration programs and investor programs are only confined to business individual. While that holds true, it is also important to note that the programs also accommodate Senior Mangers employed at medium to large sized firms provided they meet the definition of "business management" experience and the "net worth" required. For most of the PNP programs for business the net worth required is C$350,000 to C$800,000 while for the investor program it is C$1,600,000. Each program come with its own selection criteria and obligations to either establish the business and invest certain amount (usually in the vicinity of C$150,000) in their own business within two year of landing in Canada or invest C$800,000 with the Canadian Government (refundable after 5 years or pay one time non-refundable fee of C$180,000) without any obligation of establishing a business.

4: Provincial Family Stream Programs 

Foreign nationals who have their close relatives residing in those Canadian provinces that administer the "Family Stream" programs can benefit of being sponsored by those Canadian relatives. This sponsorship option is not available through the Federal Sponsorship program that allows the sponsorship of very limited relatives such as spouse, kids, parents and grandparents or grandchildren. Not all provinces offer this option but many do and it is worth checking if your relatives are residing in one such province.

Amir Ismail is a Toronto-based licensed, certified and regulated immigration practitioner. He can be reached at |