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Selective Migration Policy Models and Changing Realities of Implementation



Selective migration policies are proliferating worldwide as governments try to attract scientists, highly skilled engineers, medical professionals and information technology professionals. Selective migration policies can be grouped into three ideal-typical models: the Canadian “human capital” model based on state selection of permanent immigrants using a point system; the Australian “neo-corporatist” model based on state selection using a point system with extensive business and labour participation; and the market-oriented, demand-driven model based primarily on employer selection of migrants, as practised by the US. After providing an overview of each model, the article compares the three models in terms of policy outcomes as measured by various metrics and then explains how Canadian, Australian, and US governments have recently adopted policies from one another and deviated from their respective selective migration policy models.

Policy Implications

  • Canadian and Australian governments select immigrants using point systems but diverged in 1996 on human capital criteria of higher education and general experience
  • U.S. employers select economic migrants and majority initially come on temporary visas
  • More highly-skilled foreigners go to the U.S. than to Canada, Australia and other countries using point systems combined.
  • Canadian and Australian governments shifting policies toward the U.S. demand-driven model, with increasing preference given to employer-sponsored immigrants and those already working on temporary visas.
  • Canadian government shifting point system criteria from human capital toward specific occupations and may abandon point system altogether.