Canada's Express Entry program was introduced in January 2015 and is now in its second year of operation. In the first year of the Express Entry program, 151,722 Express Entry profiles were submitted, 54% of which were refused because they failed to meet the minimum entry criteria. There were 31,063 invitations issued; 14% to Provincial Nominees, 42% to Federal Skilled Workers ("FSW"), 8% in Federal Skilled Trades ("FST") and 36% Canadian Experience Class ("CEC"). The approval rate of accepted applications in 2015 was 82.5%.
The Express Entry program is a streamlined way of managing and assessing immigration applications in the following three programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program;
- Federal Skilled Trades Program; and
- Canadian Experience Class.
Effectively, Express Entry is a matching program intended to match eligible Canadian employers who are looking for candidates with certain required skills with the "best" foreign employees — employees who are thought to be the most likely to be successful in Canada. This program is operated by Citizen and Immigration Canada ("CIC") and is focused on three main objectives; flexibility in selection and application management, responsiveness to labour market and regional needs, and processing speed.
Foreign candidates will be eligible to apply for Express Entry only if they meet the skills requirements for one of the three programs above. If candidates are a match for one of these three programs, they can submit an online entry form that will put them into the express entry pool. As part of their online application, candidates receive a point score based on various factors including whether they have a job offer in Canada, whether they have a provincial/ territorial nomination and the nature of their overall skills and experience. CIC uses this score to determine the candidates who will receive an Invitation to Apply. Applicants with the highest scores are also invited to apply for permanent residence.
CIC intends that applications in the Express Entry program will be processed within six months from the time a Letter of Invitation is received.
Different Programs & Requirements
Federal Skilled Workers
In order to be considered under the FSW program the applicant must have at least 67 points on the selection grid. To meet the minimum requirements for the FSW program, the candidates must:
- Have at least one year of continuous full-time work experience within the last ten years at a National Occupation Classification ("NOC") skill level of 0, A or B;
- Have this one year of qualifying work experience in the candidate's primary occupation;
- Have the minimum required level of English or French;
- Have at least a Canadian secondary certificate or Educational Credential Assessment confirming at least a Canadian secondary school certificate;
- Have proof of sufficient settlement funds, unless exempt; and
- Plan to reside outside Quebec.
Federal Skilled Trades
This applicant category is for applicants who want to become permanent residents based on their qualifications as skilled trades people. To be eligible for the FST program an applicant must:
- Meet the required levels of English or French;
- Have at least two years full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the five years prior to applying;
- Meet the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the NOC, except for trades needing a certificate of qualification;
- Have an offer of full-time employment for a total period of one year or a certificate of qualification in that skill or trade issued by a Canadian province or territory; and
- Plan to live outside Quebec.
Canadian Experience Class
Current to March 9, 2016, the CEC program was at the top of the program hierarchy, a position previously held by the FSW program. Operationally this means that candidates who qualify in both the CEC and FSW programs will benefit by being chosen under the CEC category.
In order to apply under the CEC class, candidates must:
- Have 12 months skilled work experience in Canada in the three years prior to their application;
- Have gained this experience in Canada while being properly authorized;
- Meet the required minimum language level; and
- Plan to reside outside Quebec.
Work experience for the CEC does not include self-employment or employment while a full-time student. In addition, the minimum entry criteria for a CEC could mean a candidate is invited to apply before actually having 12 full months of Canadian work experience.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Some provinces include Provincial Nominee Programs as part of the Express Entry process. In Alberta, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program ("AINP") continues as a separate Permanent Residence Stream.
There have been two procedural changes worth noting. The first is an update to the procedure related to police certificates that requires clients to provide both proof that they requested a police certificate and an explanation of their best efforts to produce the police certificate. This information must be provided within 60 days of the applicants' Invitation to Apply ("ITA") expiring. It is also worth noting that police certificates are mandatory for all countries that an applicant has lived in for six months or longer.
The second procedural change relates to the instructions regarding bridging open work permits ("BOWP"). A BOWP is a permit that Express Entry applicants are eligible to apply for on the path to permanent residency. Express Entry applicants are now eligible to apply for this permit immediately after they submit their electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR). As part of their e-APR application, applicants must submit their Acknowledgement of Receipt letter, as automatically generated by their MyCIC account. This means an applicant does not have to wait for a second Acknowledgement of Receipt letter to be issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. However, the BOWP will not actually be processed until the Centralized Intake Office performs a completeness check. Essentially, this means an applicant can apply for a BOWP upon receiving the acknowledgement of receipt that the Express Entry system sends out once the e-ARP is filed.
Expectations for 2016
It is expected that in 2016 Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents. The target is to admit 58,400 people through the FSW, FST and CEC programs. As of March 9, 8451 ITA's were issued in 6 rounds. This is comparatively few in light of the fact that as of January 3, 2016, CIC received over 37,000 applications.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.