The best political party for immigrants!

Many of my friends are surprised when I tell them who I believe has been the best party for immigrants. Before you jump to conclusions, read this right to the end and then decide. I will also explain why I believe this election will be critical for the future of Canadian immigration!

When I launched the Canadian Immigrant magazine in 2004, the Liberals were in Ottawa. Several times one tried to have a dialog with the different MP’s and Ministers about the challenges immigrants faced, but nothing happened. Recently when Justin Trudeau was asked his views about immigration, all he spoke of were refugees and this is indicative of the lack of insight into the challenges of immigrants.

I came to Canada under the Federal Skilled worker Program that required me and my wife to meet the points needed in order to qualify. So why then did that lead to the most well educated taxi fleet in the world or a backlog nearing a million who were dreaming about life in Canada that could well take eight years to happen?

Under the former Government’s point system, you could be a bio technologist in say Thailand with a PhD, have fifteen years’ experience in your field were 48 years old and have a relative in Canada and below average language proficiency and you would get in! Needless to say, not many corporations in Canada could hire this brilliant and experienced bio technologist who unfortunately didn’t have the requisite language skills. It wasn’t his fault – it was how the points system worked.

To make matters worse, an MP from the Liberal party had a bill passed that every application must be scrutinized! I can hear the wheels grinding to a halt! The result was that the backlog just couldn’t keep up with the avalanche of applications coming in and wait times swelled to eight years! This was the Liberal legacy of their open door policy.

So what changed? In 2008 a new Minister of Immigration was appointed – Jason Kenney. In no time at all word was that the new Minister was someone who rolled up his sleeves and did some heavy lifting. Not just that, he immersed himself in the numerous ethnic groups gaining the moniker ‘best loved Minister’ by immigrants. More importantly, he changed the entire immigration system in just five years with a focus on positive outcomes for both immigrants and an economic advantage to Canada.

Here are some facts:

  • Highest sustained levels in immigration in Canadian history.
  • Immigration settlement funding rose from $368 Million in 2005 to $925 Million in 2014. This has benefitted hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
  • Took action on Foreign Credential Recognition helping immigrants start the process before coming to Canada
  • Created free pre-arrival orientation for economic immigrants improving employment outcomes
  • Cracked down on crooked immigration consultants.
  • Cracked down on immigration marriage fraud
  • Created the Super Visa that would help immigrants bring parents and Grandparents in much faster with average processing time of three months. The cumulative numbers admitted under Super Visa and family sponsorship were three times that during the previous Government.
  • Cut Right of Landing fee in half
  • Introduced the Canadian Experience Class, allowing students and skilled temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents.
  • Introduced for the first time the Skilled Trades category
  • Introduced a new point system with language as the biggest scorer
  • Introduced a new computerized visa management system Express Entry that allows Canada to bring in the skills that are needed and employers who can hire them immediately.
  • Lastly, the Government has a loan program that helps immigrants get their credentials recognised with a low interest loan.

My life in Canada is around immigration. I am honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to my adopted country. In the past seventeen years, I have met and listened to hundreds of thousands of immigrant in my journey. This is a critical subject and I believe the Conservatives have done a great job in helping immigrants succeed in Canada.

When I hear hollow promises from the other parties who have not bothered to understand the file, I cringe. Will we go back to the dark ages of cuts (do the research. Liberals actually reduced family visas!) in funding and immigration numbers?

Canada needs immigrants. We immigrants bring generations of tax payers to this country. Surely we deserve better.


Nick Noorani is Canada’s leading immigration champion and social entrepreneur. He is founding Publisher Canadian Immigrant Magazine, Author bestseller Arrival Survival Canada and several more books. 

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Thanks Ralph!

Seventeen years ago, we moved to a little townhouse in North Vancouver, trading Dubai’s harsh 50C summers for North Vancouver’s soggy rain forest climes. The Managers of the complex lived right next to us. Ralph the big Canadian with a belly jiggling laugh and a twinkle in his eye with Aaslaugh, his pretty Norwegian wife were literally, the first Canadians we met and knew for the next five years.

For newcomers to Canada they became the daily go to for information about anything and everything. Ralph used to tell me not to eat too much processed food ‘it’s not healthy’ and how to hang pictures without blowing a hole in the wall. We were used to concrete walls that required more force than finesse. As winter turned to spring, Saturday mornings Ralph would call me on out to his car and spread out a map. “Don’t stay at home all weekend. Go out and enjoy your new country” And he proceeded to tell me how I could take my family on road trips. He would describe the road and the sights to see exhorting me to stop at various points of interest. The map became a very important part of our conversations. In between he would talk about his life at BC Tel and his children. Ralph could also be counted on to tell you the indiscretions of the occupants starting with a smile and then erupting in his raspy laugh. Our map sessions were becoming fewer as our lives evolved and all four of us were working and road trips were not easy to organize.

We were invited to Ralphs 70’th birthday party at the Scandinavian centre and watched him being the centre of attraction. A perfect host he attended to the scores of guests that had come to wish him. Five years later, we moved out and did miss the cheery old man we considered our first Canadian friend and Santa Claus – Ralph fit the role perfectly and loved being Santa for the children in the complex.

We saw him occasionally at shopping centres and always wanted to invite him and Aaslaug home or visit them for Christmas but life gets in the way of good intentions. We saw him and his wife last Canada Day. He looked frail but had his wicked laugh ready when we talked about the antics of the complex residents.

A week ago I heard Ralph passed away and it hurt really bad. I wish I had spent more time with him. He enjoyed hearing stories from our lives and took a familial pride in how my children settled in Canada.

And as I look at the map Ralph and I shared – now replaced with the GPS I remember those stories and realise that our map sessions were more than him showing me directions to locations. They had embedded within them nuggets of life in Canada and in a crazy way, life directions a father hands down to his children.

And I look at Ralph’s photo and whisper “Thanks for the directions, Ralph!”

RIP Ralph Boulier

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Immigrant Doctor drives cab and sends a message about the system!

Nick Noorani

Mainstream Bollywood is not exactly known to send meaningful messages, but this one does. The movie opens with Deepak (well played by Vinay Virmani) writing his medical exams in India. Cut to him passing the exams and taking the next flight out to Canada – the land of opportunity! And I groan inside. Not at the movie, but at how true this scenario is. He quickly finds out that there is no way he can get the internship to practice medicine in Canada and after a disastrous attempt at serving at his uncle’s restaurant, he starts driving a cab after a chance meeting with Tony (Kunal Nayyar of Big Bang theory is a delight!).

Then of course boy meets girl Natalie Wilman played by Adrianne Palicki               . Girl has baby in cab delivered by cabbie cum Doctor and instantly becomes a celebrity. Then the drama starts and of course all is well in the end/ The movie is filled with Bollywood stereotypes including the tongue in cheek humour and the obligatory dance sequence.

The movie is well made and is in most parts non-offensive. I must confess I am not an Indian movie goer. The last one I saw was nine years ago! I saw this movie because I am tired of seeing Doctors coming to Canada and literally driving cabs.

Recently I met a husband and wife Doctor couple – he a radiologist and she an ophthalmologist struggling in Vancouver for two years. Their plight reminded me of two birds that had their feet cemented to the ground as they beat their wings haplessly trying to escape a useless situation, doomed to never fly again in Canadian skies.

I hope Dr. Cabbie is a resounding success and that it will prevent the flow of hopeful Doctors to Canada until the situation with the elusive internship is resolved!

Nick Noorani is Managing Partner Prepare for Canada and is well known as an authority on immigrant outcomes. 

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On fishing!

I meet immigrants all the time. Mostly through the 7 Success Secrets Seminars but also in the oddest places like getting off a five hour flight and being asked if I am me! Or meeting a stranger in the lobby of a hotel in Delhi or even walking down streets. It seems immigrants like to talk to me as much as I do.

They tell me how much they love the work I do and how it has helped them and then comes the five million dollar question. Could I help them find a job? Some of the careers that they have range from HR, sales etc. to the more exotic like nuclear scientists, archaeologists etc. Now, I don’t know how many people have a black book with friends from the last two professions, but I certainly don’t!

And while I can understand from their perspective, they probably think I have access to all employers in Canada, the fact is I don’t. In my 7 Success Secrets seminar I often tell immigrants. I don’t sell fish – I teach you how to catch fish! That ensures like the proverb that you will never go hungry again. The proverb I refer to is an old Chinese one that says: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

What do I mean by that? Well I am not an expert on recruitment or hiring practices, but I do know that most every profession needs soft skills. These skills are more important in Canada than in many of our home countries where our technical skills were pretty much all that were job worthy.

Which is why I created 9 Soft Skills no Immigrant Should be without! This 15 page book will take you through the soft skills you can work on that should hopefully lead to that dream job. And once you get that, CONGRATULATIONS -you are now a fisherman!

And to those who want to meet me, follow the 7 Success Secrets seminar schedule and register!

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Start-up visa could be economic booster for Canada!


The old entrepreneur visa program had no economic benefit to Canada. Essentially to qualify one needed previous experience in self-employment/entrepreneurship and the applicant had to commit to hiring one full time Canadian. Very loosely managed, one heard stories of people starting a business for a few years and closing it down, employing a distant cousin (who was ‘Canadian’ of course!) etc. Most businesses were corner store or restaurants that did no substantial difference to the Canadian economy.

Not surprisingly, in his detailed scrutiny of all the immigration programs, the Federal Minister quickly saw this as yet another program with potential misuse and no benefit and shut it down.

Yet, one only had to look across the border to see how immigrant entrepreneurs have fared. In a round table conference with the Minister in 2011, I presented the following facts.

In the US, while lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States.

60% of patents in Silicon Valley comes from immigrants

1/3 of tech startups in Michigan are immigrants

Notable immigrant startups in the US– Intel, Google, Sun and ebay.

Here are some Canadian immigrant entrepreneur success stories from the 2011 issue of Canadian Business Magazine:

Frank Stronach – Magna  Austria born. Personal worth $2.7 Billion and listed at number 19.
Lalji family from Uganda. Worth $2.05 Billion  and listed at number 26.
Marcel Adams from Romania. Worth $1.85 Billion and listed at number 29.
Michael Lee Chin from Jamaica. Worth $1.73 billion and listed at number 33.
Richard Li born Hong Kong. Worth $1.45 Billion and listed at number 44.
Mike Lazaridis born Turkey. Worth $1.3 Billion and listed at number 51.
Caleb & Tom Chan  born Hong Kong. Worth $982 Million and listed at number 63.
Hassan Khosrowshahi born Iran. Worth $943 Million and listed at number 68.
Leslie Dan born Hungary. Worth $923 Million and  listed at number 71.
David Kotchitzky and Family. From Poland.  Worth $883 Million and listed at number 76.
Victor Li. Born Hong Kong. Worth $853 Million and listed at number 78.
Andreas Apostolopousos born Greece. Worth $805 Million and listed at number 79.
K. Rai Sahi born India. Worth $670 Million and listed at number 90.
13 of Canada’s wealthiest born outside Canada! Total worth $17.139.

Obviously there is an opportunity to tap these brilliant minds.

Post 911, even the most brilliant technocrats in the US were unable to get visas and that is Canada’s opportunity! The Minister clearly wants the next Sun Microsystems or Apple to be created right here in Canada!

On 24th January the Minister announced a first of its kind start up visa.

“Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies,” said Minister Kenney. “Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.”

The Start-Up Visa Program will link immigrant entrepreneurs with private sector organizations in Canada that have experience working with start-ups and who can provide essential resources. The Program is part of a series of transformational changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it faster, more flexible and focused on Canada’s economic needs.

According to a news item, the Minister expects the application process to take less than six months and has set aside 2,750 visas a year for the next five years for the program, but expects interest will be slow to start and wouldn’t be surprised if just a few hundred apply in the program’s early years.

The report goes on to say “Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday he will head down to America’s technology heartland once the program is in place to begin recruiting the “thousands of super bright young foreign nationals,” often from Asia, who are working at technology start-ups on temporary visas and may have to go home before they’ve been able to obtain their coveted U.S. Green Card.

“We see the bright, young, international tech developers in the U.S. who are stuck on temporary visas as an immediate market, if you will, for this program,” he said.”

This program makes so much sense! Good for Canada and good for immigrant entrepreneurs!

Nick Noorani is an immigration expert, social entrepreneur and Managing Partner of Prepare for Canada, an online magazine for immigrants pre-arrival and post. He can be reached at


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Merry Christmas. No seriously, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Growing up in Bombay, Christmas was a special occasion. I remember getting all excited to go see Santa Claus at the Bombay Gymkhana. Given the lack of reindeer in Bombay and India in general, Rudolph was replaced by an aging camel, which I still find hilarious given the contrast of the speedy reindeer to the leisurely amble of the camel!

In school Christmas was celebrated with great pomp and we were taught all the carols by our music teacher. Once I started working, I enjoyed many evenings dining with my Goan friends singing, dancing and overeating! Moving to the Middle East, it was great to witness Islamic cities like Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dubai having malls filled with Christmas trees and joy.

And then we migrated to Canada. And people wished us Happy Holidays! Several times when I responded by saying Merry Christmas people looked surprised. Then a Judge in Toronto decreed that a Christmas tree in City Hall would hurt the sensitivities of immigrants! And a bureaucrat in Quebec decreed decorations should not be displayed in places that the public would see or have access to.

And a joyous greeting fell prey to political correctness. How i wished these people in their enthusiasm to ‘protect’ my ‘feelings’ had met my portly dark Santa riding the bedraggled camel at the Bombay Gym they would have seen Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews all celebrate a time of the year!

And as Canada embraced multiculturalism, several Canadians (including the Prime Minister) wished immigrants Gong Hey Fat Choy, Happy Eid and Happy Diwali!

Confusing right?

This year is special. My five month old granddaughter will celebrate her first Christmas with her own stocking by the fire place. And I hope she grows up wishing Canadians Merry Christmas respecting their religion and traditions as much as they respect ours!

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

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New rules for skilled worker immigration program announced!

Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today the final changes in the Federal Skilled Worker category.

In June 2012 the Minister froze all applications pending changes to the single largest category for immigration to Canada. The new selection system for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) will take effect on May 4, 2013 at which time the program will re-open for applications,

“Our transformational changes to the (program) will help ensure that skilled newcomers are able to contribute their skills fully to the economy as soon as possible. This is good for newcomers, good for the economy, and good for all Canadians.” said Minister Kenney.

The Minister responded to this writer: “Development of new Federal Skilled Worker Program took 4 years: research & analysis of current FSWP, consultation, pre-publication, more consultation and now implementation.”

It is expected that the processing time for applications will now be closer to months than the traditional years of waiting for immigrants. Also, in order to prevent the historic backlogs, caps will be introduced to the category.

On August 18, 2012 in the Canada Gazette, the Minister identified the issue thus: “Research indicates that despite having higher levels of education than the general Canadian population, new immigrants continue to be subject to higher levels of unemployment and lower wages than Canadian-born workers. The top three barriers highly educated immigrants face in obtaining Canadian employment commensurate with their skills and education are the lack of official language skills, the non-transferability of their foreign credentials and a lack of Canadian work experience.”

The objectives for the FSW program outlined: Update the FSWC by rebalancing the points among existing criteria, introducing mandatory language thresholds, requiring an educational credential assessment at the time of application if the educational credential submitted is from a foreign jurisdiction, streamlining the arranged employment process, and reducing the potential for fraudulent job offers under the Arranged Employment factor;

What’s changed?

The passing grade for points remain at 67 out of 100.

Language (Maximum 24 Points): From 16 to 28 Points the 12 point increase is the single largest category in the point roster.   The test itself will no longer be a self-declared test but will go through either IELTS or CELPIP external testing bodies.  Secondary language points will decrease from 8 to 4.

Language levels with corresponding points will include soft skills and workplace language proficiencies like:

Basic: Understands the main points and important details of a conversation and can write routine business correspondence; able to participate in small group discussions and express opinions and reservations about a topic.

Moderate: Understands technical conversations and reading material in their line of work; asks questions, analyzes and compares information in order to make decisions.

High: Participates in business meetings and debates; understands a broad range of general and abstract topics; writes formal and informal notes and summary documents.

Age (Maximum 12 Points): The old system gave 10 points to anyone between 21 to 49 years and continued awarding points for age until 53! The revised selection grid would favour younger immigrants by awarding a maximum of 12 points for applicants aged 18 to 35, compared to applicants aged 21 to 49 who receive maximum points for age under the current grid, with one point being deducted per year with no points from age 47.

Education (Maximum 25 Points): Points will be based on Canadian educational credentials so all applicants will have to submit their qualifications to a credential evaluation service. Those wishing to work in regulated occupations will need the Canadian regulatory body to approve them.

A list of assessment organizations designated by the Minister will be made available early in the New Year. The assessment of foreign educational credentials will provide prospective newcomers with a more realistic understanding of how their credentials compare to education standards in Canada. It will also give them the opportunity to upgrade their education prior to coming to Canada if they choose.

Work experience (Maximum 15 points): The number of points allocated for work experience will be reduced to 15 from 21. However if they have at least one year of Canadian work experience they would get double the points than with the previous system.

Arranged Employment (Maximum 10 Points): The previous process of Arranged Employment Opinion has been eliminated. All applicants must now apply to Service Canada for Labour market opinions (LMO). Adaptability could add an extra 5 points.

Adaptability (Maximum 10 Points): One year of skilled work experience will get 10 points under the new rules. Spouses however would get 5 points for the same one year experience. In order to claim 5 points for a relative in Canada the relative must be at least 18 years of age.

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Immigration lesson from Noah!

The announcement from Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney on a new Federal Skilled Trades Program is a welcome step to help address Canada’s growing demand for skilled tradespersons.

“Ensuring Canada’s immigration system works for small employers in need of skilled trades’ people has been a concern for some time,” said Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “With the shortage of qualified labour in many parts of Canada growing once again, the launch of the Skilled Trades immigration stream is very welcome news.”

The criteria for application seem fairly straightforward, which should help employers suffering labour shortages get skilled tradespeople into the country fast.

The news report goes on to say, “In order to manage intake, avoid backlogs and ensure fast processing times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept up to a maximum of 3,000 applications in the first year of the Federal Skilled Trades Program.”

This is a great step. To take it further, it would be great to see more such limits set up to prevent a return to the historic backlogs we have had in the past. Many countries accepting immigrants close the door on applications once their annual requirements have been met.  Sure, the quota will fill up in the first quarter with all applicants rushing to get in, but after that the department would be able to focus on processing these applicants faster.

And the lesson? Even Noah had to limit passengers on the famous Ark!

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Invisible minorities?

I see them everywhere. The huddled masses. Staying close to their own ethnic groups. Speaking in their own languages and staying away from “others.” They hover outside schools twisting their fingers, nervous that someone might talk to them! I hear so many stories of Canadians who reach out to these immigrants, inviting their children over for a party or a play date and their friendliness is looked on with such suspicion that could almost be considered rude!

I understand that many newcomers feel some uncertainty and fear when it comes to connecting with people outside their culture. But I truly believe that there is no way you are going to achieve your dreams if you stay in an ethnic silo. Desis have their own form of provincial segregation. You are Punjabi, Bengali, Tamilian, Maharashtrian etc. And then we have religion based segregation. Hindu, Brahmin, Sikh, Christian, Muslim etc.

A dear friend was telling me his own experience over lunch. He lives in an upscale neighborhood in Vancouver and an Asian family lived opposite his house. For several years, they never spoke avoiding eye contact until his daughter, who was studying Mandarin in school started a conversation with the girl opposite as the two families headed out. And suddenly, it was like a switch had been flipped! Smiles and gestures with broken English and Mandarin. Barriers broken, bridges made! As immigrants, we share so much irrespective of where we come from. Why limit ourselves from learning so much about other cultures?  I don’t make friends based on where you come from – I make friends based on where you are going!

I meet immigrants with medical degrees, engineering degrees, PhDs, the works. Most of them are in jobs far below their qualifications. Stories of dreams that came crashing down abound. How they cannot get the job of their dreams. I empathize with them, but I am frustrated at how they have given up. Why have you allowed your dreams to die? I know you have challenges, but almost every immigrant has them! You are not alone!

I also meet many immigrants who have been here for a couple of months or years and am amazed at how they have adopted a “victim” mentality. That will not help you! Recognize that you came here of your own free will and you alone are responsible for what you can make of yourself! Your negativity will only drag you down deeper into the pit of self-pity and unhappiness, from where you will find it hard to extract yourself.

Look at the immigrants who have succeeded and learn from them. They have made a conscious effort to work and mingle with people from all cultures including native-born Canadians. The fact is that your qualifications can only take you so far. You need to develop skills far beyond just what’s listed on a piece of paper!

For instance, so many immigrants do not recognize that their language skills are far below Canadian standards. Understand this — if there are two candidates with identical qualifications, but one has poor language skills, he will not get the job! There is no point moaning about racism — you have to look at yourself critically in order to improve your chances of employment.
The fact is that an “invisible” attitude will prevent you from succeeding and making your dreams a reality. Start making the change now!

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Why more is not better!

Almost every month for the past six years, I have been in Toronto taking cabs to meetings. And in every immigrant cab driver, I meet the death of the Canadian immigrant dream. Doctors, engineers, accountants and many more. All professionals.

Of late I have been meeting more engineers and I am puzzled. With a demand for engineers in Western Canada, why go to Toronto? In May this year, I did a five-city speaking tour in India speaking to visa ready immigrants and learnt that to most immigrants Toronto is Canada!

That has been changing rapidly. Whilst Ontario is still the no. 1 province for immigration, actual numbers have gone down by 21 per cent from 148,640 in 2001 to 118,114 in 2010. In the skilled immigrant category the numbers are more alarming, dropping from 89,079 in 2001 to 36,939 in 2011.

As a direct result of this, the last two years saw a decline in funding for Ontario, mainly as the support services to Western Canada increased. For the past month, several politicians, educationalists and experts have weighed in on the new Ontario immigration plan with a much publicized media push talking about raising immigration numbers. Ottawa, the report says, wants to raise immigration to 1 per cent of population, which is substantially higher than the Canadian national average of .8 per cent.

In addition to the obvious skilled labour force advantage, immigrants also bring cash. While no figures exist, it is estimated to be $2 -3 billion a year! No wonder the Ontario government wants a chunk of this!

Wanting to increase immigration numbers in itself is not bad. Until one looks at immigrant outcomes. Less than 25 per cent of immigrants who came to Ontario are working in their field and Ontario’s newcomers earned 23.2 per cent less than their Canadian counterparts in 2011 and had a jobless rate of 15.7 per cent. Why? What does the province intend to do about improving these outcomes? More is NOT better!

When an immigrant to Canada fails, three things happen:

  1. Canada loses a potential earner.
  2. The professional ends up as a security guard or drives a cab. Imagine for a minute the loss of self-esteem for that person and his family.
  3. The source country loses a productive member of society!

While one can talk about hiring barriers being a contributory factor to immigrant unemployment, one cannot assume all immigrants have equal skills!

Research points to language skills and age being contributory factors for successful immigrant outcomes. The proposed changes by the federal government are in complete alignment with this and should help us have an immigration system that factors outcomes on the same level as skills!

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