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Express Entry successfully launched on the first day of 2015. The highly anticipated new application management system designed to make the Canadian immigration process simpler and quicker, signifies the transition to an entirely electronic process. According to Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, the goal of Express Entry is “to get people with the skills to succeed in Canada’s economy here faster than ever.”
Skilled workers who want to apply to Canada’s key economic immigration programs are now able to create an online profile to express their interest in coming to Canada permanently. Candidates who meet the minimum criteria will be accepted into the pool and will be ranked according to various factors, including language proficiency, education and work experience. These factors are based on research that indicates immigrants with favourable scores in these areas are more likely to integrate fully and successfully into Canada’s economy and society. There is no minimum points level to qualify, but a permanent job offer from an employer or a province will boost prospective immigrants to the top of the pool. Younger applicants will also rank more favorably.
The highest-ranking skilled workers will be invited to apply for permanent residence and most will see their application processed in six months or less. The first invitations to apply will be issued during the last week of January. Express Entry will manage applications for three federal economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class. Provinces and Territories will be able to use the Express Entry system to select a portion of candidates for their Provincial Nominee Programs.
Despite the anticipation leading up to the Express Entry launch, not everyone is completely sold on the system, with Quebec declining to participate in Express Entry, instead opting to continue selecting their own skilled workers. Some business owners have expressed hesitance with how effective the system will be at matching skilled immigrants with open jobs, noting that job-function features will not be fully-operational for several months and that the system does little for employers looking to fill low-wage or low-skilled positions. Others like immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, have been more critical, stating that Canada’s immigration policies have shifted in favor of “expediency and naked pragmatism” and that Express Entry lacks “transparency, oversight or accountability.”
The government has promised to publish information about each draw, including the lowest-ranking score of those candidates who have been offered permanent residency. The government will also continue to insist that employers prove they made every effort to hire a Canadian first before offering a permanent job to a foreigner.
Canada has admitted more than 1.6 million new permanent residents since 2006, and will admit between 260,000 and 285,000 in 2015 alone.
More information about Express Entry is available here.