On 18 March the Immigration Minister of Canada, Chris Alexander met with the immigration ministers of the Canadian provinces in order to discuss the ongoing immigration reform in the country. The have reiterated their commitment to actively seek skilled foreign immigrants, who have qualifications that are needed by the Canadian business. They intend to raise the stake of economic immigrants in the total immigration intake. Currently 62% immigrants are in the economic stream and the aim is that this number reaches 70%. Additional changes that were discussed on the meeting include the introduction of the Expresion of Interest Program that will substitute the current Federal Skilled Worker Program. The Canadian system will be based on the Australian Skill Select EOI scheme. After the applicants list all their skills in a searchable database, they will be available for employers, who want to hire foreign workers. If an applicant is selected by an interested employer he will be able to apply for a visa and will need to provide proofs for the skills and qualification the he has listed in the database.
Canada is a federal country which consists of 10 provinces; each of these has wide autonomy in the area of immigration regulations. Currently the most popular program for economic immigrants to Canada is the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). Around 55 000 people receive their Canadian visa under the FSWP scheme. The can get a visa if the have a job offer from Canadian employer or if they have a professions that is identified as being in-demand by the Canadian government. In addition to that having a Phd degree from an accredited local university can be a qualifying factor as well. In recent years, however, a greater number of immigrants have been selected for permanent residence visas via the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The PNP is a system which allows provincial and territorial governments to nominate applicants for Canadian permanent residence visas.