Alberta eases path to residency for skilled foreign workers

Workers in ‘optional trades’ category – such as roofers and concrete finishers – can apply directly to government for permanent residency

Skilled temporary foreign workers certified in Alberta’s optional trades can now apply directly to the Alberta immigrant nominee program for permanent residency, instead of having to apply through their employers.

“We need skilled workers living in Alberta permanently,” said Alberta’s Minister of Employment and Immigration Thomas Lukaszuk. “We have to make sure we are ready for the coming labour shortages as economies around the world are competing for the same skills and the same people. This change will allow Alberta to nominate the most qualified and experienced tradespeople working in occupations that are needed in Alberta.”

The federal government limits the number of workers provinces can nominate for permanent residence. In 2011, Alberta is allowed to nominate 5,000 people. With limited numbers, Alberta's focus will be on nominating foreign workers who currently work in permanent jobs, those who have job offers and those with the skills and qualifications in occupations that are in demand in Alberta, said the provincial government.

There are currently 50 designated trades in Alberta. Of these, 31 are in the optional trades, including roofer, tile setter, concrete finisher and cabinet maker. Nineteen occupations fall under compulsory trades, including welder, ironworker, gasfitter and plumber.

Before this change, workers in the optional trades applied for permanent residence with their employers. Workers in the compulsory trades had the option to apply either directly to the government or with their employers.

This change will simplify the application process for temporary foreign workers in both compulsory and optional trades applying to the Alberta immigrant nominee program, said the government.

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