The Canadian government plans to fast track the immigration process. In an exclusive interview with Business Today, Canada's minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Alexander said that from the start of 2015, the country would adopt a new system for immigration.
From January 1, those seeking to immigrate to Canada will have to create their profiles on a specified website. "Based on this profile and the educationof those who apply, we will rank them," Alexander added. "After this we will invite these professionals. Once they complete their applications, we will process their papers within six months."
Alexander says there are roughly 22,000 Indian students and workers in Canada on temporary basis. The new programme can benefit them get permanent status in the country.
The minister was hopeful that with this new process, Canada will be able to attract more talent, especially when the US has tightened norms around issuing H1B visas. Moreover, minister said that for the first time, prospective employers in the country will have real-time data about those interested in immigrating and their profiles. "If the applications take two-three years to process, no employer would be interested," he added.
Canada has benefited after the US government decided to limit the number of H1B visas. "We understand there is frustration on this. This is precisely the reason behind our decision to put up billboard advertisements in Sillicon Valley: asking geeks to come to Canada," said Alexander.
The minister said that cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Alberta have seen investment pouring in from the information technology majors such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco amongst others. "These areas are now the new technology hubs in the region," the minister said.
"The decision of the American government to limit the number of visas under H1B visa is certainly helping us to attract talent, and is also assisting the government in attracting new investments."
Alexander said the biggest challenge for his government was attracting talent. "We are looking at scientists, engineers, technology professionals along with those involved management and mathematics. The pilot of inviting start-ups to set up their business here is already working and is showing a great promise. We are planning to regularise this soon," said the minister.
In April last year, this start up category was introduced on a pilot basis - if a foreign national with funding from Canadian government approved venture capital funds - the promoters becomes eligible to apply for permanent residency. "We also want investors to come here and take advantage of our business friendly ecosystem," he added.
Canada is facing stiff competition from countries like Australia and UK. Alexander says that the economy of Canada is running on immigrants. "We need them, especially if they are young and have attained high skill sets," he added. "In the last eight years, our government tried to reform the system for good, and tried to made it faster."
(This writer travelled to Canada at the invitation of the Canadian government.)
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