ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 351 - November 4, 2011
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Fourth Set of Ministerial Instructions: New PhD Eligibility Stream under the Federal Skilled Worker Program
This Operational Bulletin has expired.
Effective November 5, 2011, the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program will have a new eligibility stream for international students pursuing doctoral (PhD) studies at Canadian institutions. Instructions are provided on how to proceed with applications received both before and after this date.
This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides guidance on FSW applications and the fourth set of Ministerial Instructions (MI-4) which come into force on November 5, 2011.
On June 18, 2008, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was amended to give the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration authority to issue instructions that would ensure the processing of applications and requests be conducted in a manner that, in the opinion of the Minister, will best support the attainment of immigration goals set by the Government of Canada.
The MI-4 comes into force on November 5, 2011 and includes changes to the following programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program: Introduction of the new PhD eligibility stream.
- Family Class Sponsorship Applications: A temporary pause on new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents. (see OB 350 for more information).
The full text of these instructions can be found at:
Effective November 5, 2011, the FSW program will have a new eligibility stream for international students pursuing doctoral (PhD) studies at Canadian institutions.
In order to be eligible to apply under this stream, the FSW applications [Note 1] must be received by the Centralized Intake Office (CIO) in Sydney, Nova Scotia on or after November 5, 2011, and must meet either of the following two sets of criteria in order to be placed into processing:
- Applications from international students who are currently enrolled in a doctoral (PhD) program, delivered by a provincially or territorially recognized private or public post-secondary educational institution located in Canada, and who have completed at least two years towards the completion of their PhD and who are in good academic standing and who are not recipients of a Government of Canada award requiring them to return to their home country to apply their knowledge and skills. [Note 2]
- Applications from foreign nationals who have completed a doctoral (PhD) program from a provincially or territorially recognized private or public post-secondary educational institution located in Canada no more than 12 months prior to the date their application is received by the CIO in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Applicants must not have received a Government of Canada award that required them to return to their home country to apply their knowledge and skills; or if they were a recipient of such an award, that they have satisfied the terms of the award. [Note 3]
Applicants who are eligible for processing are still assessed under the other requirements of the FSW Program. Applicants must still meet minimal requirements and obtain the minimum pass mark in order to continue in processing.
Limit on the number of applications to be processed per year
A maximum of 1,000 new FSW applications from international students pursuing PhD studies or recently who obtained a PhD at a Canadian institution will be considered for processing each year. This cap will be calculated over and above any other FSW caps on application intake identified in previous Instructions.
In calculating the cap, applications will be considered in order of the date they are received. Applications received on the same date will be considered for processing having regard to routine office procedures.
For the unique purpose of calculating the cap, this cap year will begin on November 5, 2011 and end on October 31, 2012. Subsequent cap years will begin on November 1st and end on October 31st, unless otherwise indicated in a future Ministerial Instruction.
FSW applications received at the CIO before November 5, 2011
MI-4 does not apply to complete applications received prior to November 5, 2011. All FSW applications received by the CIO prior to this date shall continue to be considered for processing having regard to the requirements in effect at that time.
FSW applications received at the CIO on or after November 5, 2011
The MI-4 applies to applications received at the CIO on or after November 5, 2011. The CIO will assess complete applications received on or after this date against the MIs to determine whether applicants are eligible for processing. The CIO will make a final eligibility determination and those determined to be eligible will be placed into processing. Applications that receive a negative eligibility determination will not be processed and will receive a full refund of the processing fee. The application and documentation submitted will not be returned.
Submitting the application
All FSW applications, including those under the PhD stream, will continue to be sent to the CIO. Applicants are required to submit their complete application, together with all supporting documents, to the CIO as listed on the CIO document checklist.
The CIO will review applications for completeness and if the application is incomplete, the entire application package will be returned to the applicant.
Final eligibility determination at the CIO
The CIO will assess the applicant’s submission based on the documentation submitted and make a final determination of eligibility. To be eligible for processing, the applicant must meet all the criteria described in the MIs. If the applicant’s submission is determined to be ineligible for processing, the applicant will be informed and will receive a refund. The application and documentation submitted will not be returned. If the CIO makes a positive eligibility determination, the application will be placed into processing and the applicant will no longer be eligible for a refund.
Humanitarian and Compassionate requests
Requests made on the basis of Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds made from outside Canada that accompany any permanent resident application affected by MIs but not identified for processing under the Instructions will not be processed.
Updates to the OP 6 manual are forthcoming.
For further information outlined in this OB, please contact your supervisor or your Regional Program Advisor (RPA). RPAs may in turn contact Operational Management and Coordination Branch at OMC-GOC-Immigration@cic.gc.ca.
 In order to be considered, applications must be completed according to the application kit requirements in place at the time the application is received by the designated office. [back to note 1]
 Applicants will be required to include, in their application package, a letter of attestation from the recognized provincial or territorial post-secondary education institution where they are pursuing their PhD. The letter shall contain the following attestations:
- that the applicant is currently enrolled in a PhD program and has completed at least two years towards its completion; and
- that the applicant is deemed in good academic standing to the satisfaction of the institution.
The letter of attestation should be an official letter, on university letterhead, signed by a recognized institutional authority such as the registrar or dean of Graduate Studies that clearly addresses the above-noted two components.
Applicants will also be required to declare that they are not a recipient of a Government of Canada award requiring them to return to their home country to apply their knowledge and skills, by completing the appropriate section in schedule 3. [back to note 2]
 Applicants will be required to include, in their application package, official transcripts supplied by the recognized provincial or territorial post-secondary education institution where they completed their PhD, showing the awarding of a PhD.
Applicants will also be required to declare that they were not a recipient of a Government of Canada award requiring them to return to their home country to apply their knowledge and skills; or if they were a recipient of such an award, that they have satisfied the terms of the award, by completing the appropriate section in schedule 3. [back to note 3]
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