In his first general policy speech to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, President Donald Trump reiterated his desire to reform the American immigration system. He cited Australia and Canada as examples, which place more weight on skilled workers than the United States.
The number of visas granted
This is a record: more than 320,000 people immigrated to Canada from 1er July 2015 to June 30, 2016, according to Statistics Canada data. “The country has never received so many immigrants in a single annual period since the beginning of the 1910s, a period of colonization of Western Canada”underlines the institution.
The government plans to welcome another 300,000 immigrants in 2017, with fewer refugees and more migrants for economic reasons: 172,500 workers, 40,000 refugees and 84,000 people for family reunification. As a reminder, the country has 36.6 million inhabitants.
Australia planned to grant 190,000 visas in 2015-2016 under the Migration Scheme, 68% of them to skilled workers, as in the previous year. The remaining part concerns family reunification. These statistics from the Department of Immigration do not take into account the “humanitarian” flow. The island now has nearly 25 million inhabitants.
A point system for skilled workers
Canada was the first country to introduce a points system, in 1967. The objective: to avoid any discrimination. It rewards studies, fluency in English or French and professional experience. This merit-based immigration has inspired several countries, including Australia. With a few exceptions, the Australian immigration program is modeled on the Canadian, according to a comparative study by Cahiers Economiques de Bruxelles.
The minimum score to be able to immigrate to Canada is 67 points, with a maximum of 28 points awarded for language skills, 25 points for education, 15 points for experience, 12 points for age, 10 points for a promise of employment and 10 points for adaptability, details the government on its site. Some may earn extra points by settling in particular territories.
To immigrate to Australia, applicants must score at least 60 points: a maximum of 30 points is awarded based on age, 20 points for English proficiency, 20 points for level of education, 15 points for professional experience in a job similar to that applied for, in Australia or abroad, and 5 to 10 points for other factors, including the skills of his spouse or common-law partner.
A bonus for candidates already hired
Since 2009, Australia has given priority above all to candidates who already have a job offer. Canada followed the trend. Since 2015, skilled workers can thus apply for the Express Entry system. Employers issuing promises of employment must generally justify that they have not been able to fill the position with a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. These are management positions (restaurant managers, mines, etc.), professionals (doctors, architects, etc.) and technical or specialized jobs (electricians, plumbers, etc.).
But this new system is fueling criticism. It privileges the commercial aspect to the civic values. Some fear fraud with jobs of convenience, and increased discrimination, which is difficult to detect. Not to mention the risk of abuse by employers, to which new immigrants are bound for a certain period.
Programs to attract entrepreneurs
Canada is targeting entrepreneurs with its start-up visa program. Immigrants able to climb “innovative businesses that can create jobs for Canadians and compete in the global marketplace” are welcome, if they obtain financing from one of the venture capital funds, business angels or business incubators listed by the government.
Australia also launched in September 2016 its visa system for entrepreneurs. A few sectors are excluded, such as real estate. Applicants must own at least 30% of the business enterprise, be under the age of 55 and be fluent in English. They get permanent residency after four years, if the project is successful.
Canada also offers a program for the self-employed. Persons intending to create their own employment in Canada must have experience in cultural or sports activities, or in agricultural management, with the project of buying a farm.
Disadvantages and advantages of the system
Donald Trump complained about the cost of immigration “unskilled” for the United States. The new merit-based system “will save untold amounts of money, increase workers’ wages and help struggling families, including immigrant families, move into the middle class”he assured Congress on Tuesday.
However, the grass does not seem greener in Canada. A report by the Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank, estimates the tax burden attributable to immigrants at 27 to 35 billion Canadian dollars (19.3 to 25 billion euros) in 2014. With 285,000 new arrivals each year, this cost would increase by nearly 1.5 billion per year, calculates one of its authors, the economist and former MP Herbert Grubel. “Immigrants fill jobs that Canadians don’t want and that benefit the economy, but in the absence of immigration, those jobs would be better paid and done by Canadians or replaced by labor-saving technologies. ‘work “notes the study.
In Australia, programs have been trying since 1995 to fill the skills gap in rural areas. Unlike the Canadian report, a study of the Journal of Population Research highlights the absence of differences between immigrants and natives, in terms of employment rates, unemployment and income levels – and therefore taxes paid. The authors only find a higher level of education among newcomers.