NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 27, 2007

Canada's immigration system favors highly skilled foreigners by assigning points for education and work experience, and accepting those who earn high scores.  It offers a cautionary tale for the United States, says the New York Times. 

The point system has helped Canada compete with the United States and other Western powers for highly educated workers, the most coveted immigrants in high-tech and other cutting-edge industries.  But in recent years, immigration lawyers and labor market analysts say, the Canadian system has become an immovable beast, with a backlog of more than 800,000 applications and waits of four years or more.

  • Canada accepts about 250,000 immigrants each year, more than double the per-capita rate of immigration in the United States, census figures from both countries show.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Canada's population growth comes from immigrants, according to the 2006 census, compared with the United States, where about 43 percent of the population growth comes from immigration.
  • Approximately half of Canada's immigrants come through the point system.


  • Under Canada's system, 67 points on a 100-point test is a passing score.
  • In addition to education and work experience, aspiring immigrants earn high points for their command of languages and for being between 21 and 49 years old.
  • In the United States, the Senate bill would grant higher points for advanced education, English proficiency and skills in technology and other fields that are in demand.
  • Lower points would be given for the family ties that have been the basic stepping stones of the American immigration system for four decades.

Part of the backlog in Canada can be traced to a provision in the Canadian system that allows highly skilled foreigners to apply to immigrate even if they do not have a job offer, says the Times. 

Source: Christopher Mason and Julia Preston, "Canada's Policy on Immigrants Brings Backlog," New York Times, June 27, 2007.

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