• Canadas New Express Entry Program
  • March 20, 2015 | Author: Melanie C. Samuels
  • Law Firm: Singleton Urquhart LLP - Vancouver Office
  • With the aim of being more flexible and responsive to Canada’s changing economic conditions and priorities, the federal government introduced the Express Entry program in January 2015. This is a new system for expediting economic immigration applications and to allow Canadian employers to consider Express Entry candidates for a particular position when no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is able to fill it.

    This new program actively recruits, assesses and selects skilled immigrants under the three federal permanent residency programs:
    • Federal Skilled Worker Program
    • Federal Skilled Trades Program
    • Canadian Experience Class.
    Provinces and territories can also now nominate Express Entry candidates for their provincial nominee programs.

    The first step for potential candidates to enter the program is to complete an on-line Express Entry profile on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. They can do this at any time, even if they are not applying for a specific job.

    A profile contains information about a candidate’s skills, work experience, language ability, education, etc. Candidates meeting the criteria of one of the three federal economic immigration programs listed above will be placed in a pool of candidates. The government, for the moment at least, is not placing a limit on the number of candidates within the pool. Before making a profile, a candidate will have to pass standardized English testing and have their credentials assessed.

    Candidates are ranked within the pool and only the highest-ranked candidates (i.e. those deemed to have the best chance for economic success) and those with qualifying job offers or provincial/territorial nominations will first be invited to apply for permanent residence. It should be emphasized that completing an on-line Express Entry profile does not, in any way, guarantee a candidate will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.

    Candidates who do not have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer or a provincial/territorial nomination must register with the Government of Canada’s national Job Bank, which will connect qualified candidates with eligible Canadian employers.

    Where applicable, however, employers will still need to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to hire a foreign worker. A welcome feature is that the government is not charging a fee for an LMIA for permanent residence applications under the Express Entry system.

    Currently, applications for permanent residence can average 12-18 months to process. Under Express Entry, candidates selected during the first stage of the process will have 60 days to submit an electronic application for permanent residence through any of the programs listed above or a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs. CIC expects that it will process most Express Entry applications within 6 months or less.

    Should candidates in the Express Entry pool not receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence after 12 months, they may resubmit their profile and re-enter the Express Entry pool, assuming they still meet the program’s criteria.

    Since this program is still new, CIC will undoubtedly be encountering unforeseen obstacles as it implements the Express Entry program. Nonetheless, this is a welcome and potentially transformative addition to Canada’s immigration programs. It has the potential to positively impact employers’ immigration decisions and enable them to recruit quickly the skilled and experienced employees from overseas that Canadian businesses need to compete in the modern economy. Importantly, those employees may become permanent residents who are not just working in Canada temporarily.