Foreign Professionals Welcome in Ontario—Liberalized Work Experience Rules and Faster Processing Ahead

Ontario may be Canada’s preferred destination for foreign immigrants but the province is facing the problem of more than a hundred thousand vacancies, especially in regulated professions.

As per latest data, just one in four skilled immigrants in Ontario was employed in the regulated professions for which he/she has formal training and experience. Obviously, Ontario was not succeeding in attracting professionals to come and work in their specific area of expertise.

This problem has prompted the province to announce major changes to how foreign-trained professionals in licensed occupations can work and settle in Ontario.

Skilled Immigration—Regulated and Other Occupations

Canada is a great destination for skilled workers but not all skilled occupations are the same when it comes to immigration.

Professional occupations like lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers etc. are regulated occupations, which means a foreign-trained professional must obtain licensing approvals to work as an independent professional in Canada.

These requirements apply over and above all educational, work experience, language, financial, and medical requirements applicable to skilled worker immigrants.

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The Problem in Ontario

The issue in Ontario was that foreign professionals could qualify for professional registration and licensing only if they had Canadian work experience. This meant even experienced professionals had to work in junior positions just to gain the required Canadian work experience.

Secondly, those with foreign credentials in regulated occupations often had to complete multiple language proficiency tests to prove their eligibility. Professionals did not have the option of using valid test results for immigration and licensing purposes.

Thirdly, professionals faced waiting periods of 18 months or longer during the licensing process. This meant a fully-trained and experienced professional often had to wait for close to two years just to get permission to offer services in Ontario.

The Changed Framework

Ontario has introduced some major changes that is going to make it a lot easier for foreign-trained professionals to work and settle in the province.

Going ahead, Canada work experience is no longer mandatory for professional registration in Ontario. The only exception is where demonstrated public health and safety risks require the candidate to have previously worked in Canada.

This change means even foreign work experience counts to qualify for licensing in Ontario and for professionals to offer their services to clients in Canada.

The second change allows immigrants to use the same language proficiency test results for immigration as well as professional licensing in Ontario. This has settled a major problem that required professionals to undergo the same language test multiple times without any real benefit or advantages.

The third change aims to speed up the licensing process and significantly reduce the current waiting period of around 18 months.

This is extremely significant because an 18-month wait to work in Ontario meant that foreign professionals simply chose to work elsewhere.

Getting a professional degree takes between three to five years. To wait for an additional two years just to be eligible to start working in Ontario did not appeal to most professionals.

This is probably the primary reason why regulated professionals constitute such a small percentage of skilled workers in Canada.

Implications of these Changes for You

If you are a skilled worker in a regulated profession, then these changes mean you should seriously consider Ontario over all other provinces. You can leverage your foreign work experience to qualify for positions here.

Completing licensing formalities won’t be too onerous since you will no longer have to wait for years at a stretch to get permission to work in the province.

And the language proficiency test change means you need not waste time and money on multiple tests and that a single test result will suffice as long as it continues to remain valid.

And if you are a young student keen on exploring Canada immigration opportunities after completing a professional course, then these changes are likely to be very beneficial for you.

You need not worry about Canada work experience, which means you can focus on improving your professional skills and understanding without worrying about whether it would be considered or not when immigrating to Ontario.

Since Ontario is a very popular choice for most skilled immigrants entering Canada, you may find it easier to move with your spouse since he/she is likely to find it easier to get a job in Ontario as compared to other provinces.

Finally, these changes highlight how Canada and its provinces are constantly focusing on improving the immigration setup. At a time when Canada is far better than other developed countries in terms of immigration opportunities, these changes make Canada a smart choice for professionals in regulated occupations as well.

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