Immigration Policy: How the points system works in Canada

Status: 11/30/2022 11:23 am

The federal government wants to make naturalization easier for skilled workers. In Canada there is already a special system for this: Points are awarded depending on qualifications and experience. Could this be a role model for Germany?

By Peter Mücke, ARD Studio New York

In the late 1960s, Canada faced similar problems to Germany today: there was a lack of skilled workers to remain competitive and to maintain the social systems. Until then, Canada had relied on immigration from Europe – mainly from Great Britain and France.

“And then a very courageous and far-reaching decision was made,” says Oliver Schmidtke from the Center for Global Studies at the University of Victoria in western Canada. The then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the father of the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, changed Canada’s immigration system – “away from the region of origin towards the qualifications”.

Points for skills and experience

In 1967, the Canadian government then introduced a sophisticated point system. Criteria were established – such as training, professional qualifications, language skills or work experience. These were then summarized in a points system, says Schmidtke. Depending on their qualifications and level of experience, each person receives a certain number of points. “Right now you need 67 points out of 100 to qualify as an immigrant to Canada,” says the professor.

That’s how Schmidtke came to Canada in 2000. Last year he analyzed the immigration and integration policies of his host country for the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, which have been repeatedly adapted over the past decades. “Sometimes people went over to saying that we need so many engineers right now, and next year so many mechanics. But that proved to be difficult,” says Schmidtke. Because there are time shifts that make such planning difficult.

“Economic immigrants”

Ultimately, however, the point system has proven itself in his opinion. This made it possible to query general qualifications and experience and “see which people can we recruit best? Which ones have the most promise for our economy?”

The people who come to Canada in this way are also called “economic immigrants”. Most of them come from India, Pakistan and China. For the past 20 years, at least one percent of Canada’s population has been recruited from abroad every year, regardless of who was running the country.

Canada wants more immigrants

This number is now to be increased even further, says the Minister responsible, Fraser, because the country is suffering from a labor shortage despite immigration. “This year’s immigration plan provides answers to this challenge: the target of 431,000 immigrants this year should rise to 465,000 next year,” says the minister. “And then by 2025 to 500,000 people a year.”

The focus should be on issuing permanent visas for people with required qualifications and professional experience. The government also wants to ensure that immigrants can actually work in their profession. According to Schmidtke, that’s what’s missing in the Canadian point system.

From doctor to taxi driver

“Recognition of foreign qualifications, titles, but also work experience is a big problem,” he says. Europeans are often given an advantage because they know the system. Immigrants from other parts of the world, on the other hand, “face much greater problems” in having their work experience or qualifications recognized.

This is especially true for doctors, engineers and teachers. Which is why it may well be that even in Canada, highly qualified immigrants end up having to drive taxis to make ends meet. More than 20 percent of immigrants finally turned their backs on Canada in frustration.

The points system could definitely be a role model for Germany, even if there is much more uncontrolled migration here than in Canada, says Schmidtke. Germany must find a balance here: between dealing with irregular immigration such as refugees on the one hand and “the willingness and courage to set up its immigration policy more openly and broadly” on the other. According to the professor, the country needs the courage to “recruit a large number of foreign specialists over the next few decades.”

Immigration Policy: How the points system works in Canada

Peter Mücke, ARD New York, November 30, 2022 9:25 a.m

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