National News

Canadian Experience Class Program marks success

Minister Kenney congratulates Gaurav Gore , Canada ’s 20,000th permanent resident through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) – Ottawa , Ontario

Excerpts TRANSCRIPTION/TRANSCRIPTION

DATE/DATE: September 14, 2012 9:00 a.m. LOCATION/ENDROIT: Main Floor, Government of Canada Building, 1 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario

SUBJECT/SUJET: Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney Holds a News Conference to Highlight the Canadian Experience Class Program.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Well, thank you very much. A pleasure to be here for an exciting announcement. As you know, Canada is a land of opportunity for newcomers from around the world. In fact, since our current government came to office, we have been admitting the largest number of immigrants in – at a sustained level in Canadian history — over a quarter of a million new people a year coming here to help us build Canada’s future. We have been maintaining the highest per capita level of immigration in the developed world as well as the highest naturalization rate, rate of newcomers who go on to be full members of the Canadian family as Canadian citizens.

And, as you also know, we have embarked upon a fundamental program of reform of Canada’s immigration system designed to ensure that immigration works for Canada’s economy and that there are greater opportunities to be realized by immigrants to this country.

For too long, we have seen too many newcomers struggling to survive in our economy, too many people who arrive with high hopes and dreams only to face unemployment or underemployment. That simply isn’t acceptable, especially in an economy with large labour shortages.

That’s why we must make sensible changes to our immigration program designed to attract those people who are the most likely to succeed and integrate making good incomes for their families, finding good jobs, starting successful businesses so they can realize their potential and achieve their dreams in this land of opportunity like generations before them.

That’s what all of these immigration reforms are designed to do, in addition to strengthening the integrity of our system.

One of the key reforms that we have launched has been the creation of the first new path to permanent residency in a generation in Canada’s immigration program when, in 2008, we created the new Canadian Experience Class. All of our research tells us that immigrants who have Canadian university degrees or diplomas and Canadian work experience and who are younger and who have higher levels of English or French language proficiency are those who succeed the most in terms of their economic opportunity in Canada. That’s what the research tells us.

And yet, strangely, until we created the Canadian Experience Class four years ago, when we had bright young foreign students come to Canada and complete their degrees or diplomas we then asked them at the end of their academic program to leave Canada and, if they wanted to immigrate, to get in the back of a seven or eight-year long queue in our skilled worker program.

Well, I think that was just crazy, to take some of the world’s best and brightest who had invested in Canada and who were set for success and ask them to leave just when we could use their amazing skills and talents.

That’s why we created the Canadian Experience Class, to say that we invite those brilliant young foreign students who have completed at least a two-year degree or diploma and one year of work in Canada to stay as permanent residents and to stay through a program that allows them to apply in Canada with fast processing.

Now the Canadian Experience Class was created with two streams: one for foreign students who had completed a two-year degree or diploma and one year of work in Canada; and, secondly, for people who arrive here on work permits as temporary foreign workers in skilled occupations who, after two years, could stay in Canada through the CEC.

I can announce that this year we have reduced the benchmark for people here on work permits to qualify for permanent residency through this program from two years of work to one year of work in Canada, making the program even more flexible.

I should also mention that we created a program as a government to provide for three-year open work permits for foreign students who have completed an academic program in Canada, degree or diploma in Canada.

So all of this is now coming together.

Let me just say that we believe that the Canadian Experience Class is the future of Canada’s immigration program, welcoming bright young people from around the world who have already shown their initiative, drive and enterprise by at a young age doing their research all around the world and choosing Canada as the best country to be coming here and investing in a higher education in our good colleges and universities, doing well in school, finding a job, finding an employer who likes them, getting a year of work experience by which time they have a degree or diploma that Canadian employers will recognize. They won’t be going through any credential recognition gap. They have improved or perfected their English or French language skills. They have work experience which of course the absence of which is the key hurdle for immigrants to find jobs in Canada. In other words, they are set for success.

Now when we launched the Canadian Experience Class back in 2008, we had high hopes for it to become a major part of our immigration program. For reasons that still elude us, it was under-subscribed originally. But the program has begun to pick up momentum and is beginning to realize I think its potential as the core program for immigration to Canada.

And so, today, as part of that momentum, I’m pleased to announce that we have just admitted the 20,000th permanent resident to Canada through the Canadian Experience Class. And the 20,000th resident is Mr. Gaurav Gore of Toronto, originally of India, who came to Canada to do his Master’s at the Rotman School of Business here at the University of Toronto, was shortly thereafter employed, works for the Bank of Montreal. And I’ve just had a brief chat with he and his wife who has now come up here from the United States. And I can already tell that they perfectly typify the kind of newcomers who we hope to attract through the Canadian Experience Class. This young couple represent in many ways the future of Canada: bright, hardworking, energetic people who are going to contribute to Canada, raise a family here. And we are so proud to welcome them.

So I would like before we go on with the program to welcome Gaurav up here. Now I’m going to give you a bit of a presentation just to make sure you’re fully Canadian, even though you’re not a citizen yet; this is a jumpstart on that. But, Gaurav, you must know that hockey is the number one sport in Canada — and we’re not talking about field hockey, all right? We’re clear on that, it’s ice hockey. And have you been to a Leafs game yet?

Gaurav Gore: Yes, I have, actually.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Did they lose?

Gaurav Gore: Yeah, unfortunately. (Laughter.)

Hon. Jason Kenney: Well, Gaurav, this is an important anniversary year for Canadian hockey because it is the 40th anniversary of the Canada-Soviet World Series in hockey, the Summit Series which was a defining moment for Canadian identity because recovered its pride in international hockey by beating the mighty Soviet Union 40 years ago this month. And so I have a special presentation for you to remember this day by and we hope that when you guys have kids they will grow up to be great hockey players. So here you go. (Applause.) There you go. Cheers. Thank you.

Mary Jago: Merci beaucoup, monsieur le ministre. All right. Well, thank you very much, Minister. And now I’d like to invite Ms. Judith Wolfson. She’s the Vice-President of University Relations at the University of Toronto to come up and say a few words.

Judith Wolfson: Well, thank you very much. Minister Kenney, Gaurav, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to bring greetings and congratulations indeed on behalf of the University of Toronto.

I’m Judith Wolfson. I am the University of Toronto’s Vice-President responsible for University Relations, including our International Relations. And Gaurav, in addition to congratulating you on your permanent residency, I’m also in the fortunate position of welcoming you formally to the alumni family of the University of Toronto so I’m going to be just a little bit self-serving here. I should forewarn you and your wife it’s a very big family. So if you thought you had a large family before, you have a larger family now.

In fact, you may not have known it when you graduated from the University of Toronto but you are now part of a powerful alumni network that numbers half a million people now around the world and it’s around the world truly. In addition to being proud of you and your accomplishments, Gaurav, the University of Toronto is lucky to boast of such a richly diverse community that draws from its worldwide experience, as the Minister said, and brings the best, truly the best and the brightest to our country. We have students from over 150 countries currently attending the University of Toronto. As I say to parents who send their most precious possession to us, they are sending their children to the United Nations in a campus. And you experienced that.

And we’re stronger because of it and in fact I just saw the statistics yesterday for our new class. Twenty percent approximately of our incoming class are international students from just a huge, huge number of countries.

In an international economy it is only a global perspective that will ensure that Ontario and Canada succeed in the long run. And, Gaurav, it’s my hope that when your international success happens you will remember us. And we would ask you to be a mentor — a mentor to others. We would ask you to add to our history in Canada of innovation and entrepreneurship and contributions to the economic success of Canada. You’re both poised to do so and we are truly lucky.

We’re very proud of you. We’re very proud of your accomplishments. We’ll continue to watch you and the many other incredible University of Toronto alumni with great interest.

Mary Jago: Thank you, Ms. Wolfson. And now I would like to present the man of the hour, Gaurav Gore.

Gaurav Gore: Thank you, Mary. Thank you, Mr. Minister. Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great honour to be the 20,000th recipient of the Canadian residency, especially through the CEC program which truly is every bit as good as the Minister just alluded to.

I believe it’s great for many, many different reasons as well. Having been through it, I know at personal note the application is quite streamlined. Documentation isn’t excessive by any standards. And, quite honestly, in tandem with the postgraduate program, it offers a seamless way for those of us who’ve been here to continue being here in Canada.

After an undergraduate degree in computer engineering and having spent a few years in software development, I decided that while building banking solutions was important, choosing which solutions to build was even more so. That kind of led me to go down the path of an MBA which would then equip me with the tool kit to realizing what strategy and finance and technology all mean together in a world which is so connected now.

With that, I decided to pursue my MBA at the University of Toronto at the Rotman School of Business for reasons which were varied but of course the very high regard that the university holds and the school holds specifically was one of the defining criteria.

The added bonus of course would have been that with my move to North America I would have been a little bit closer to my family here as well. And that was also one of the traits of course.

So I spent a couple of years at the downtown campus where I was lucky to have the opportunity to network with some incredible people, some incredible alumni that, you know, kind of moulded me into wanting to stay here longer. All the alumni seemed to be preaching the same kind of story which was Canada is a land of opportunity. You can build a great career, multiple careers if you choose to because you have the opportunity in Canada to just jump around, sometimes even within an organization if need be, if not within others around that space.

After the two years that I’ve spent in BMO I can honestly say that what they were preaching is true. We have seen that there are many, many, many different opportunities that you folks who are here can leverage. With the experience, even more of those have just opened up.

So we finally decided to settle here and now, thanks to CEC, here we are today.

On a side note, of course, I must mention growing up I was the biggest fan of Jim Carrey. I didn’t know back then that he was from Canada. Nor I know that I’d be here one day. So, well, that’s life for you. Thank you very much for this opportunity and I’ll turn this back over to Mary. (Applause.)

Hon. Jason Kenney: Before I take questions, I should mention one thing which is that the creation of the three-year postgraduate work permit and the Canadian Experience Class has added a huge added value for Canadian colleges and universities when they go abroad to recruit international students and we see a growing number coming to Canada and I think in part that’s an added offering for our colleges, our colleges and universities when they seek to attract the world’s best and brightest here.

Mary Jago: There’s a question from Omni.

Question: Hi, Minister. It’s Sean (ph) from Omni Television. Our community member is very concerned about the – I know CIC is revamping the Entrepreneur Class and the Investment Class and I heard is they will reopen very soon with a startup visa. So I just want to know is there any updates?

Hon. Jason Kenney: Sure. As you know, we made changes to the investor immigrant program two years ago because we felt that it was massively undervalued in Canada in that market for investor immigrants. That’s why we doubled the necessary net worth requirement and the amount of the loan from 800,000 to 1.6 million and 400,000 to 800,000 dollars respectively.

However, we found that even after that change we continued to receive far more applications than there were positions available for admission to Canada, meaning that the backlog and processing times continued to grow. I think we have something in the range of 22,000 people currently in the investor immigrant program backlog with wait times of up to nine years. That’s bad for them, it’s bad for Canada. We can do better.

Other countries have much higher thresholds for participating in similar programs — typically a million dollars that’s often non-refundable, that leads only to temporary residency.

And so what we’re looking at doing is redesigning the program to require a greater degree of investment in Canada, a more meaningful, long-term investment that actually creates jobs. Frankly, Canada gets very little out of the $800,000 loan. It’s shared pro rata with provinces who merely offset the cost of capital for five years. It seems to me that’s hugely underselling Canada. There are millions of millionaires in China and around the world who would like to come to Canada. One poll last year indicated that I believe 62 percent of Chinese millionaires would like to emigrate and that 39 percent of them want to come to Canada. So we have no shortage of people who want to participate in a program like this but we need to find, if you will, the right price point, the right benchmark to ensure that we’re getting the biggest bang for the buck for the Canadian economy while properly controlling the number of applications so that we don’t end up with big backlogs. Finally, you pointed out our new super – excuse me, our new startup visa that we’re planning on launching perhaps next year. This is one of the new innovative programs that we hope will attract really high value entrepreneurs, people who aren’t just coming to make a passive investment but actually have a brilliant business concept that has been tested and found very credible by actual investors, by angel investors or venture capitalists in Canada. We’ll invite them to come here on a fast-track basis through the new startup visa. That’s a different thing than the passive investment design of the immigration – excuse me, of the investor program.

Question: So is there any details about that?

Hon. Jason Kenney: The details on the startup visa were – we don’t have precise program details but the general outline of the program I actually announced here about five months ago with Kevin O’Leary of the Dragon’s Den. And there’s a news release on the CIC website outlining what we expect will be the criteria for the startup visa program. Our Communications staff could direct you to that release.

Question: They have to come with the venture capital funds.

Hon. Jason Kenney: We propose that a venture – Canadian venture capital firm or angel investment firm that is a member in good standing of their industry association — for example, of the Canadian Venture Capital Association — will be able to in a sense nominate someone who they are investing – whose business plan they’re investing in but who is a foreign national. If they’re willing to put millions of private sector dollars behind that person’s business plan, we’re willing to admit them as a permanent resident.

Mary Jago: Minister, the next question is from Sun TV.

Question: Good morning.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Good morning.

Question: Just got a question for you, actually two questions. The first one, I just want your thoughts on the death of Peter Lougheed.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Well, we – I’m very saddened by the death of former Premier Lougheed. He was a remarkable Canadian and of course a great Albertan. As a Member of Parliament from the province, I can tell you that Mr. Lougheed had the universal respect of Albertans and I think will be remembered as one of the great – greatest premiers and greatest political leaders in Canadian history.

So, along with the Prime Minister, we express our condolences to Mr. Lougheed’s family.

Question: Right. And, second of all, we’re going to go to the Middle East for a second, the situation there. We know that the Canadian government was backing what happened in Libya, the takedown of Gadhafi and now we have a very, very different situation on the ground, a lot of talk about Al-Qaeda. With what’s going on right now, what is the stance of the Conservative government and what needs to be done to stop what’s going on?

Hon. Jason Kenney: Well, first of all, we’re very saddened with the death of the American Ambassador in Libya and the Prime Minister has condemned in the strongest personal terms those outrageous acts of violence against – that led to his death and that of other American diplomatic personnel and the broader attacks on American and other Western embassies that we are seeing. These are violations of the norms of diplomatic relations with countries which are essential to maintain international peace and stability. Governments abroad simply cannot allow mobs to attack, invade, burn embassies because to do so undermines the trust that’s essential to have international dialogue and relations. And so we’re very disturbed to see these developments.

I think these developments, however, do underscore the wisdom of our government’s decision announced last week by Minister Baird to close our Embassy in Tehran. We were concerned about precisely this kind of environment. In Iran we believe it’s even more problematic because violence and anti-western attacks are often inspired and directed by the regime itself which was, we believe, the case with the United Kingdom Embassy in Tehran last November when mobs associated with the Basij militia attacked the UK Embassy, forcing its closure.

We believe that our first responsibility in operating our embassies abroad is to the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel which is why we were not prepared to continue putting our people in Tehran at risk. Of course we’ve also had to close our Embassy in Damascus but for different reasons in terms of the violence there. And so, again, I think this underscores the wisdom of our decision with respect to Tehran.

Mary Jago: The next question’s from the Epoch Times.

Question: Hi, Minister. Two questions, actually. First one is with the startup program, startup visa. When you say startup visa, do you mean it’s going to make it a conventional one – conditional one, sorry?

Hon. Jason Kenney: No. Well, at this point, no, we’re not looking at conditionality. Right now, we have not yet launched or released the full details of the program but our intention, as expressed when I announced it a few months ago in this room is to allow foreign nationals who have been – received a positive investment decision from a company that’s a member of the Canadian Venture Capital Association or its equivalent industry group amongst angel investors to receive permanent residency in Canada. And it’s always possible that if they come and they try their business there will be some failures. Obviously, in the field of venture capital there are going to be some failures. But if they are bright enough to have persuaded a very careful Canadian venture capital company that they have a credible business plan and that they are people of good character, we believe that those people likely have the levels of human capital which will lead to long-term success. That is to say they might fail the first time, as many great successful people have. But if they stick it out in Canada, we think they have the kind of drive and initiative to succeed in the long run. So we are not looking at conditionality. If, however, if we – they commit clear misrepresentation, right, in their application, if their whole plan turns out to be bogus and they arrive in Canada and they never even try to start the company, we might always reserve the right to go back and retract their permanent residency on the grounds of misrepresentation. I don’t anticipate that would happen in many cases at all. But there’s always an opportunity for us to act against people who are clearly acting in bad faith.

Question: The second one is the CEC. As you know, there’s so many international students here already, right? Do you – government find out why so less of them apply?

Hon. Jason Kenney: I’ve been asking that question since 2008 and I still don’t have a good answer. One reason is that many foreign students who have graduated and have sought permanent residency have done so through the Provincial Nominee Programs. We don’t really have one to speak of in Ontario except for PhD students. So they’re using that. But in the Western and Atlantic provinces, they are using the Provincial Nominee Program quite typically, I think because it had – it didn’t have a work requirement, unlike our CEC, and in many cases the processing times were faster. But I think the program is picking up momentum with Gaurav’s admission as the 20,000th – 20,000th CEC participant. And last year we received – we admitted over 6,000 people under the program. So far in the first six months of this year, we admitted 4,500. So the program continues to grow. I think five years from now I would expect to be seeing, you know, probably over 20,000 or more a year being admitted through the CEC and, again, I think it’s a fantastic program.

Mary Jago: Our next question is from Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

Question: Good morning, Minister. My question is about the Temporary Foreign Worker Permit. A lot of hiring managers and talent managers that our magazine’s speaking to right now still say that the biggest barrier in employing foreign-trained talent is the immigration process. It’s still too slow to sort of zero down on talent and get them onto projects at the right time because the immigration process is slow. So my question is is there more effort on your part to speed up the process of immigration for foreign temporary workers?

Hon. Jason Kenney: Well, let me just clarify one thing. Temporary foreign workers are not going through the immigration process. The immigration process really refers to people applying for permanent residency. But in terms of obtaining their visas, I agree that it is too slow. Look, I’ll be just very blunt with you. The problem we have is that we see huge growth in all of these programs. Visitor visas, huge increase. Students, foreign students, we’ve I think tripled from India in the past four years, doubled from China. And then foreign – temporary foreign workers, we’ve seen growth in that program as well, particularly in the youth mobility programs that we run in 16 different countries. So my department has static resources but more and more work to do and consequently things are slowing down. We’re looking for a systemic solution to this. And all I can say is stay tuned. We’re pursuing ways that we might be able to operate my department on a more businesslike fashion which, frankly, may involve raising fees so we can actually recover the full cost of the visas. Right now, we’re – taxpayers in Canada are subsidizing the cost of processing and issuing visas. So if we could actually charge the visa applicants a bit more to recover the full costs, we could perhaps more staff. The other – I guess some good news is by the end of this year we will have fully brought on stream our new information technology system in my ministry called the Global Case Management System, moving us from a very antiquated paper-based system a few years ago to a fast, technologically-efficient, intelligent system where we can process files all around the world.

Mary Jago: We’re down to our last two questions and the second last question is from New Tang Dynasty.

Question: Thank you. Minister, Doris from NTD. My question is would CIC use this startup new kind of immigration category to take – to take the place of the traditional investment category? And, yeah, because the former one – the latter one is currently past (ph).

Hon. Jason Kenney: Yeah. Question: Yeah. Hon. Jason Kenney: No. No, it will not replace the Investor Immigrant Program. To be clear, we are looking at changes to the Investor Immigrant Program so we get more bang for the buck for Canada’s economy. But the startup visa will replace the old entrepreneurial – entrepreneur program. That’s the program where we required people I think to invest, what was it, $300,000 for two years and create one job in order to get permanent residency. And basically what that meant that is that immigration consultants were selling people a package which included a turnkey business operation that they were never often not involved in — a food kiosk in a shopping mall or a convenience store. And what would happen is the person would notionally take ownership of that, notionally create one job and after two years they would flip it and the consultant would then sell it to their next client. That wasn’t creating value. You know, that’s just ridiculous. That’s just a bookkeeping exercise in turnkey operations that are not creating a lot of value in the Canadian economy. We looked at that and said that’s underselling the country. So, instead, that’s what we’re going to be attracting these brilliant young entrepreneurs who have met a standard that’s a lot higher than our immigration standard is in Canada. That is to say they’ve got a Canadian business to be willing to invest millions of dollars in them. So they’ve gone through a much more rigorous process, got a brilliant business plan. Some of them will fail but many of them will go on to create perhaps dozens or hundreds of jobs. So, to be clear, the startup visa will replace the old Entrepreneur Program. The Investor Immigrant Program will stay in place but will be substantially changed. Okay?

Question: Can I ask a follow-up?

Hon. Jason Kenney: Okay. Question: So what’s the possible future of the traditional investment category?

Hon. Jason Kenney: The possible future will be a program which has – requires a much greater investment and perhaps something like an active investment that actually creates jobs. But you’ll have to stay tuned for the details. We’ve been doing consultations on this and we invite people to give us their input before I sit down with my officials to make some decisions.

Mary Jago: Our last single question goes to Fay from World Journal. Question: Hi, Minister. My name is Fay. Right now I work for the World Journal as a reporter and personally I was international students couple years ago so hopefully by the end of this year I’ll be able to have a CEC.

Hon. Jason Kenney: There you go.

Question: So I’m here actually represent many of my peers because one question we are really concerning about right now is how long, like what is the factors that making the process time takes either longer or shorter? Because right now I checked the website, it’s 14 months.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Yes.

Question: But I have actually friends who only – who get it like less than half a year and also friends like it takes longer than 14 months. So what are the factors? And also the second one would be what would be your suggestion to give to international students before handing application in case they don’t mess up the applications.

Hon. Jason Kenney: Vacations?

Question: Applications. Like your suggestion —

Hon. Jason Kenney: Applications. Sorry.

Question: Yes.

Hon. Jason Kenney: So, well, first of all, Gaurav tells me the process was fast and seamless so I’m going to take his word for it. And I was excited to hear that. Look, we – it’s true that some applications take longer than others. That often depends on the application itself, when exactly it was received, whether it requires more follow-up, whether it’s a perfectly complete application. But I can tell you that I have recently instructed my officials to increase our target for admissions under the Canadian Experience Class this year so that we can process more applications and speed up wait times. So we will definitely be for the latter half of this year under 12 months’ processing time for the Canadian Experience Class.

And in terms of advice that I give, my advice is if you’re going to use an immigration consultant or lawyer to help put together your application, do your research and make sure the person is credible. A lot of people end up using folks who are not properly licensed or competent and then mistakes are made.

And that creates lots of problems and delays. That’s one point. The second point is make sure that it’s a complete application and that all the documentation is included because if there are delays and the department has to go back and get more information, that can cost months.

My third point would be — and I know you will be, you will certainly respect this — but be absolutely honest in everything that you submit. We’ve had some people submitting fake proof of employment in Canada where they’ve paid an immigration agent to pay an employer to create fake pay stubs as fraudulent proof of employment. We’ll catch on to that so, as always, as always, those people who try to cheat the system end up making it slower for all of the vast majority of legitimate folks.

So I guess my advice is if you hear of that happening, please call our tip line and blow the whistle if there’s anyone here who’s not following the rules. But if you follow the rules, you submit complete applications and especially if you’re being assisted by a credible, properly licensed lawyer or a consultant with our increased targets and the emphasis we’re placing on the program, you should have it processed quickly. That’s our objective.

One last point. For those foreign students who are working and who have applied or temporary foreign workers who have applied but they’re starting to run out of status waiting for an answer on their CEC application, I’ve instructed our officials to give them what’s called implied status so they will not lose status in Canada while their permanent residency application is pending for a decision.

We’re not going to kick people out if they’ve made a good – if they’ve made an application and they’re waiting for a decision. Okay. Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup. Thank you. (Applause.)

See http://www.cic.gc.ca

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