Thinking of Filing Under the Federal Skilled Worker Program Without a Lawyer? Think Again

By Author: Admin | November 25, 2012

Firstly, there is the presumption among applicants who apply for a visa to Canada that the onus is on the officer to show reasons why your case should be refused.  This leads to the misconception among visa applicants that a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) application is merely about filling out the required forms. Nothing could be further from the truth. The onus is entirely on the applicant to meet the requirements, and sometimes those requirements are not in the document list on Canada’s official government immigration website. An officer who takes carriage of an incomplete, oblique or ambiguous application will refuse it without providing reasons to the applicant, and also, without any notice to you about the error that was committed.  If one re-applies after a refusal, an added wrinkle leads to a general scepticism and higher degree of scrutiny by an immigration officer about the veracity of an application filed subsequent to a refused one.

Last year the approval rate for FSW’s processed around the world was 45%. More recent applications actually had a higher rate of failure – only 33% of applications were approved. This low success rate is no doubt a product of plucky ‘do it yourself-ers’ who pride themselves on a knowledge of the English or French language and a confident sense of ‘formal logic’ – who often do not realize that government bureaucracies are not often associated with logic or clear instructions.

As at the time of writing, (i.e. November 2012), Applications for FSWs are closed without an Arranged Employment Opinion) AEO), or PhD in Canada. The job list has not been published for 2013.  The 2013 list is being promoted as a narrow one that will focus on current employment shortages in Canada and not approving of foreign nationals who are skilled on other, already well-served sectors of Canada’s labour market.

For FSW cases, the cornerstone of such an application of the work reference letter.  Indeed, under the law, an officer is allowed to go straight to the work letter(s) of reference and if they do not pass muster, an officer is allowed under Canadian law to refuse the application outright, without looking at any other aspect of that application.  Thus, your letters of employment must be properly drafted, otherwise your application can be refused for insufficient evidence of experience. The officer will not contact before rendering that decision. We help your employers write the proper letters, and if they fail to do so, we explain the aberration to the visa office in a submission letter, citing established case law on the matter.

Often those who self-file omit or embellish certain facts because they believe this makes their application stronger or if it’s more convenient at the time. You can easily misrepresent yourself unintentionally. Officers may bar you from Canada for two (2) years for mistakes/omissions on your application even, if you have no knowledge of some cogent fact deemed material to the assessment.

A further advantage is that visa applications take time and a lawyer’s full-time job is to follow up with the visa office and communicate with the visa office after the case is filed.  This is not only convenient for busy professionals but also helps ensure faster processing times.

For those who do not have work experience commensurate with that listed on the occupation list, the alternative option is supplementing the application with an AEO. Getting an AEO can be difficult. Employers do not have expertise in this matter and can easily be frustrated to the point that they do not want to proceed – immigration lawyers can take over this process.  Because the job offer, either for an AEO or an LMO must be assessed by Service Canada and CIC, there are no straightforward cases in this stream anymore and there is a sense that Service Canada officers are unaccountable and arbitrary in their assessments.


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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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