Canada is cutting the number of people given permanent residency through its most popular immigration scheme by nearly 2,000.
The federal skilled worker programme, a points-based system for skilled migrants, is being squeezed next year to make way for 3,000 more people who have worked or studied in Canada for at least two years.
The changes are aimed at ensuring that foreigners who move to Canada are more able to contribute to the country’s economy.
Immigration minister Jason Kenney said the move would help to attract “more of the world’s top talent who already have a successful track record in Canada”.
Under the plans, the total number of economic migrants admitted in 2013 will remain at between 240,000 and 265,000.

But Canada is expanding its “Canadian Experience Class” scheme, which gives permanent residency to international students and those who have worked there for two years on temporary visas.
Up to 10,000 people will be able to settle permanently in Canada this way next year, compared with 7,000 in 2012.
Meanwhile, the maximum quota for federal skilled workers will drop to 55,300 in 2013, from 57,000 in 2012. In 2011, 57,296 people were admitted through this route. The figures do not include applicants’ families.
The skilled worker programme was frozen in July 2012 due to a massive backlog of applications that now stands at 100,000.
In September, the government announced changes to the scheme that would prioritise English speaking under 35s who had previously worked in Canada. Final details have not yet been released, but any changes are likely to come into effect from January.
Harald Bauder, director of the Centre of Immigration and Settlement at Ryerson University in Toronto, said the changes would benefit those with existing connections or a job offer in Canada.
He said: “One of the big problems foreign workers face in finding a job is that Canadian work experience is often required. It’s very contentious. It’s a catch-22 situation.
“That’s why they’re focusing on foreign workers or students already in Canada.”
The changes come as attitudes towards expats in the country appear to be hardening. Government survey results released last week found only 56 per cent of Canadians felt immigration was having a positive impact on the Canadian economy – 10 percentage points down from 2010.
However, Mr Bauder said his research suggested that support for immigration in Canada was still high compared with other Western countries.