We are two months into the launch of Citizenship and Immigration
Canada's ("CIC") Express Entry
system for managing certain applications for permanent residence.
The new system has come under serious fire and there is pressure on
the government from the Canadian Bar Association and affected
stakeholders to change the way the system works and impacts foreign
nationals. So, what have we seen so far?
Four draws from the pool of candidates have taken place from
January 1, 2015 to February 27, 2015; all of which have selected
applicants with Comprehensive Ranking System
("CRS") scores of at least 735-886
points. Since applicants cannot score more than 600 points without
a Labour Market Impact Assessment
("LMIA") – formerly known as the
Labour Market Opinion ("LMO") – or
a qualifying provincial nomination, we know that every foreign
national chosen to date possesses a LMIA or provincial nomination.
Anyone without one is left waiting in the pool, regardless of how
much education, Canadian and/or foreign experience, skills and
talent they have that could benefit our labour market.
In total, just over 3,700 applicants have been selected and
invited to apply for permanent residence. In 2014, CIC planned to
admit about 15,000 foreign nationals under the Canadian Experience
Class alone, not including the numbers under the Federal Skilled
Worker, Federal Skilled Trades and Provincial Nominee Programs. If
CIC continues at the current rate of selection, it will only invite
about 18,000 foreign nationals under Express Entry in 2015, which
isn't much when stacked against the anticipated 65,000 Express
Entry invitations it hopes to issue (out of its 250,000 annual
immigration target for new permanent residents). With little
transparency from CIC on what it is thinking, the best guess is
that CIC is slowly edging into the program to give itself a chance
of meeting its 6 month processing time promise.
In terms of impacts to the permanent residence process itself,
the intent of Express Entry was modeled after the Australian
expression of interest model and was anticipated to be an
electronic system to manage applications and give CIC the ability
to choose the best and brightest candidates. In practice, Express
Entry creates a new layer of eligibility requirements in terms of
having a LMIA or provincial nomination to have a chance for
selection and this creates hardship for applicants and Canadian
The system puts LMIA-exempt work permit holders and
international students at a serious disadvantage. These foreign
nationals, who already have Canadian work experience and/or
Canadian education that CIC should want to retain, are being forced
to obtain LMIAs or provincial nominations. Foreign students are
generally eligible for LMIA-exempt work permits under the Post
Graduate Work Permit category and, under the old system, could
apply under the Canadian Experience Class once they have one year
of Canadian work experience. Under the new system, these students
will not have enough CRS points for selection unless their employer
obtains a LMIA, which means advertising for their role and proving
that no Canadian exists to do the job. This is almost impossible
when you have new graduates with little employment experience
competing for jobs. Furthermore, employers with foreign nationals
who are in Canada as LMIA-exempt work permit holders (i.e. Intra
Company Transferees and NAFTA work permit holders) are effectively
forced to go through the LMIA process to retain those workers
permanently, even though those workers came in under international
agreements where LMIAs were not required in the first place. It is
counterintuitive for employers to recruit foreign workers for these
roles when there is no intent to actually hire Canadians. Plus, it
goes against the intent of the LMIA-exempt work permit categories,
existing immigration regulations and the government's intention
of making the LMIA process a last resort for employers who cannot
find Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill jobs. These
oversights in the new system create a significant burden for
employers and make Canada an unattractive place for international
With continued pressure on the government, things will
(hopefully) have to change and we are hoping to see amendments to
the Express Entry system that give LMIA-exempt work permit holders
and international students a fighting chance, without forcing them
through the last resort LMIA process.
To read the Canadian Bar Association's criticism and
recommendations on the Express Entry system, please click here.
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October 12th, 2016 - Immigration authorities conducted the 21st round of invitations under Express Entry in 2016 and 44th overall, inviting 1518 applicants for permanent residence with a lowest CRS score of 484.
October 19th, 2016 - Immigration authorities conducted the 22nd round of invitations under Express Entry in 2016 and 45th overall, inviting 1804 applicants for permanent residence, the largest number ever. The lowest CRS score was 475, a decline from the previous draw.
September 21st, 2016 - Immigration authorities conducted the 20th round of invitations under Express Entry in 2016 and 43rd overall, inviting 1288 applicants for permanent residence with a lowest CRS score of 483.
A unique feature of the new Canada express entry immigration system is that candidates can improve their comprehensive ranking score while in the express entry pool, without submitting a new application. We review important strategies.
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