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IAF Updates to Canada’s Express Entry permanent residence system

November 17, 2016

Updates to Canada’s Express Entry permanent residence system

Express Entry (“EE”) is the management system used by the Department of Immigration to process permanent residence applications for skilled workers in Canada.
This program first took effect on January 1, 2015. Since then, although processing times have been cut in many cases from 13 months to six, stakeholders have criticized the program in the way it allocates points to program applicants. Comprehensive Ranking System (“CRS”) points are granted to applicants for their age, education in Canada, work experience, language abilities, permanent job offer in Canada and so on. Those with the most points are issued an Invitation to Apply (“ITA”) for permanent residence. Those not issued an ITA remain in the ‘pool of applicants’, for up to 12 months, waiting to be drawn. Persons with either an EE Provincial Nomination, or a ‘valid’ job offer (meaning a job offer supported by an LMIA) are granted an additional 600 points. Applicants in Canada holding LMIA-exempt positions (eg, Intra-company transfers and NAFTA professionals) do not receive these 600 points and are generally left at the bottom of the pool of applicants if unable to obtain an EE Provincial Nomination, even if their education, work experience and general ability to do well in Canadian society might far exceed someone with an LMIA.
Minister McCallum has expressed his plan to update the Ministerial Instructions associated with EE. IRCC has now announced plans to make changes to EE, as of November 19, 2016. The highlights of the Ministerial Instruction changes are as follows:

  • Points awarded for qualifying offers of arranged employment will be reduced from 600: IRCC will now grant 50 points to applicants with a valid job offer in NOC 0, A or B occupations, and 200 points to applicants with valid job offers in NOC 00 occupations;
  • LMIA-exempt, employer-specific work permits will now be considered qualifying offers of arranged employment, and foreign nationals holding these work permits will now receive points for their job offers, as indicated above. Applicants must meet certain criteria, including at least one year of full-time, or the equivalent part-time work experience from the same employer who provides them with the job offer;
  • Job offer requirements are being changed from ‘permanent’ to ‘one year’ for applicants working in certain skilled trades;
  • International students who have completed their studies in Canada will receive 15 points for a 1-2 year diploma or certificate program, and 30 points for a degree, diploma or certificate program of 3 years or more, including Master’s, professional or doctoral degrees; and applicants will now have 90 days to submit a complete application. This has increased from 60.

In effect, applicants with relatively low core human capital scores (age, level of education, official language proficiency and Canadian work experience) are likely to have more difficulty under this new regime than before, since qualifying offers of arranged employment net significantly fewer points depending on one’s NOC. However, because of the way in which points will now be allocated for arranged employment, LMIA-exempt foreign nationals who hold employer-specific work permits and otherwise meet requirements of the program will now be on a level playing field with LMIA-holding applicants. On the whole, it appears as though points for job offers in Canada will be allocated much more fairly.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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