How can I stay in Canada? Express Entry explained
The system for applying for permanent residency has changed. Here’s how it might affect you
Canada has introduced a new Express Entry system for candidates applying for permanent residency visas. Photograph: Getty Images
On January 1st, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced a new way of managing permanent residency applications in the following existing programmes: Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Programme (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC). (Read more about your visa options for working in Canada in our Destination Canada guide).
Applicants will be ranked against each other via a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and the most highly ranked will be invited to apply for permanent residency by CIC. These applications will be completed online, rather than being submitted as paper applications. Applicants will need to have completed their language tests, and if applicable, have had their education credentials assessed.
The way it works is that an applicant will complete a profile online under Express Entry, points will be allocated (regardless of programme) and the applicant will be notified of which programme they are eligible for and how many points they get. The point allocation is much more complex compared to the previous FSWP points system (the FSTP and CEC did not use the points system).
The applicant will then need to wait and hope they will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Applicants will remain in the pool for 12 months, and can then renew if they are not selected. They can update their profile at any time.
If an ITA is issued, the applicant will have 60 days (with no extensions) to submit their application and supporting documents. The ITAs will be issued when CIC does a draw and selects the top-ranked applicants - it is expected the first draw will be at the end of this month.
Applicants will also have the opportunity to be selected by a Canadian employer, as eligible employers will be able to view the applicants and consider them for a position, as long as they can show they cannot find a Canadian or permanent resident. Later this year, Canada’s Job Bank will be able to match candidates with eligible employers.
The main benefit of the Express Entry is that permanent residency applications should be processed in six months, much quicker than under the previous system. The downside is applicants will no longer know what the threshold is, and most won’t know for certain if they will receive an ITA, as they won’t know what their ranking is and where they stand in comparison to other applicants. Those who have approved job offers (with an employer who has a Labour Market Impact Assessment) or who have been nominated by a province should receive their ITA relatively quickly, as they will be at the top of the rankings.
In the previous system, applicants knew their eligibility before submission, but now it is more of a waiting game. There is no certainty of being invited to apply for permanent residency. This uncertainty is frustrating and has an impact on those who are in Canada with permits issued under the International Experience Class (working holiday visa) which may be coming to an end. It will be difficult to determine timelines, which in turn can affect the eligibility of a bridging permit, thus impacting the applicant’s eligibility to continue working in Canada while the permanent residency application is in process.
Canadian Visa Specialists will be hosting a series of free seminars on Express Entry, in conjunction with the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre, in Toronto on January 22nd, Edmonton on January 28th, Calgary on January 29th and Vancouver on January 30th. See facebook.com/canadianvisas for details.
For more information about visa options for working in Canada, and other information on jobs, housing, financial considerations and more, see our Destination Canada guide.
Louise Willis is a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC) with Canadian Visa Specialists. She also serves on the Quebec board of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org