Changes coming to Express Entry program on Nov. 19 to help skilled workers become permanent residents

canada flag

The Canadian government has announced that it is making changes to its Express Entry program effective Nov. 19.

“We have committed to doing more to attract highly-skilled immigrants to come to Canada and become permanent residents, because this is important to build our economy and strengthen our society. I am confident that the changes to Express Entry will be one of the many positive outcomes of the changes we will be bringing to our immigration system,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum.

The government announced changes to its Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), a points-based system that is used to assess each individual applying for the Express Entry program, and rank them against a pool of candidates. Individuals are awarded points based on factors like spouse and common-law factors, skill transferability, and work experience, and given a score out of 1,200.

The Express Entry program was introduced in 2015 in an effort to allow employers to find prospective employees among a pool of candidates outside of Canada, but there has been criticism that the program has been slow to get immigrants employed until now. Under that system, employers had to get government approval through a Labour Market Impact Assessment to prove they could not find a Canadian to do the job.

Here are the three main aspects of the Express Entry program that will be affected by the changes:

Job offers

Currently, the CRS awards 600 points for a job that is permanent and supported by an LMIA.

After Nov. 19, points will be awarded for job offers of eligible candidates on LMIA-exempt work permits. This means that people working in Canada on an LMIA-exempt work permit will no longer need to get an LMIA to be awarded points from the CRS, though the candidate will have to meet requirements like obtainingone year of work experience from the same employer providing the job offer.

At the same time, points awarded for job offers supported by an LMIA will be reduced. Fifty points will be awarded to candidates with a valid job offer with a National Occupational Classification (NOC) of 0 (management jobs), A (professional jobs such as doctors), or B (technical jobs such as plumbers and electricians). A total of 200 points will be awarded to awarded to candidates with a valid job offer in a NOC 00 (senior management) occupation.

The government said that the number of points awarded for job offers under the old system made it difficult for skilled candidates without job offers to apply, and the new system better recognizes individuals with the skills required for the job.

Education

Under the old system, The Express Entry system awarded points for education overall as long as it had been assessed as equivalent to a Canadian standard. Now, points will be awarded for postsecondary study in Canada.

After Nov. 19, The CRS will award 15 points for a one or two-year diploma or certificate, and 30 points for a degree, diploma, or certificate of three years or longer, including a Master’s, professional, or doctoral degree. The government said that this will allow more former international students to transition to permanent residence using the Express Entry system.

“In a competitive system, 30 points can be the difference between being selected and not,” Noah Turner, a Montreal-based legal adviser, told The Globe and Mail.

The application system

Under the old system, candidates had 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence, including documentation such as police certificates and medical exams. After November 19, candidates will have 90 days to complete an application for permanent residence if they get an invitation to apply.

The government said these changes are meant to support the recently-announced Global Skills Strategy.