On November 10, 2016, the Government of Canada announced that it would be changing how points are calculated in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (“IRCC“) Express Entry program.

The most significant change is that having a qualifying offer of arranged employment that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) will no longer guarantee an Invitation to Apply (an “ITA“) for permanent residency.

However, foreign nationals who completed post-secondary education in Canada, as well as certain closed work permit holders in the International Mobility Program, will benefit.

The changes will take effect on effect on November 19, 2016.

Overview of the Current Comprehensive Ranking system

Under Express Entry, a potential applicant to one of Canada’s three main economic immigration programs must complete an online Express Entry profile where they provide information about their skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other details.  That individual is then entered into a pool of Express Entry candidates where they are given a score out of 1200 using a Comprehensive Ranking System (“CRS“) based on the information that they provided when creating their Express Entry profile.

Under IRCC’s current CRS, an individual gets 600 points if they have an offer of full-time employment that is either supported by a provincial nomination certificate or by a LMIA. Since Express Entry was launched in January 2015, anyone who possessed a work permit that was supported by a provincial nomination certificate and/or a LMIA met the minimum points threshold because of these 600 points, and was guaranteed an ITA. 

This will no longer be the case.

Provincial Nomination Points as of November 19, 2016

As of November 19, 2016, individuals who are nominated by provincial nomination programs in their respective Express Entry programs will continue to receive 600 points.

Qualifying Arranged Employment Points as of November 19, 2016

The Government of Canada has broadened what constitutes qualifying arranged employment, but reduced the number of points available.

Qualifying arranged employment will now include:

  • individuals who have an offer of full-time and permanent employment for a skilled position with an employer that has obtained a positive LMIA to employ the foreign worker in the position;
  • individuals who hold a valid work permit in Canada for a skilled position where the work permit was issued on the basis of a positive LMIA;
  • individuals who have an offer of a minimum one year employment from one or more employers in a skilled trade where the offer(s) was supported by a LMIA;
  • individuals who hold a valid work permit in Canada, have worked for their employer for one year or more, and who have an offer of full-time and permanent employment, where the work permit was issued on the basis of
    • a free trade agreement;
    • an intra-company transfer;
    • a significant benefit work permit;
    • a significant investment work permit;
    • Mobilité Francophone;
    • a reciprocal employment work permit;
    • an International Experience Canada Young Professionals Program work permit;
    • a religious or charitable nature work permit; and
    • certain post-doctoral research and other education based work permits. 

A total of 50 points will be awarded to candidates with a qualifying offer of arranged employment in a National Occupational Classification (“NOC“) 0, A or B occupation, while a total of 200 points will be awarded to candidates with a valid job offer in a NOC 00 occupation.

Points for Canadian Education 

The Government of Canada is also as of November 19, 2016 giving bonus points to people who complete post-secondary education in Canada.

15 points will be awarded to foreign nationals who obtain credentials from a one-year or two-year post-secondary program.

30 points will be awarded to foreign nationals who obtained an eligible credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more, a master’s level credential, an entry-to-practice professional degree (such as a law degree), or a doctoral level credential.

English as a Secondary Language programs and distance learning programs in which distance amounted to more than half of the program do not count.

Other Changes

The Government of Canada is expanding the period that an individual who has received an ITA has to submit a permanent residency application from 60 days to 90 days.

Previously, foreign nationals could get Express Entry points for both Canadian and foreign work experience regardless of whether the work was paid or volunteer. As of November 19, 2016, Canadian and foreign work experience will only be eligible for CRS points if the work was remunerated by the payment of wages or commission.

Express Entry points continue to be available for Skills Transferability. Previously, points were available for individuals who had a combination of education and language ability and/or Canadian work experience.  One of the education thresholds was “two or more post-secondary program credentials, one of which was issued on completion of a post-secondary program of three years or more.” This wording caused much confusion, and the Government of Canada has now affirmed that this education threshold includes anyone who has a university-level credential at the mater’s or doctoral level.

It continues to be the case that when a foreign national creates an Express Entry profile they must provide language test results which are less than two years old, and, where applicable, an Educational Credential Assessment (“ECA“) that is less than five years old.  Previously, there was uncertainty over what would happen if language test results or ECAs expired during the period that someone was in the Express Entry pool.  The Government of Canada has now affirmed that as of November 19, 2016, if someone is in the Express Entry pool and either the person’s language test results become two years old and/or their ECA becomes more than five years old, then the person will essentially be kicked out of the pool. As such, people in the Express Entry pool need to be mindful of when their language test results and ECAs expire.

Previously, there was uncertainty over whether an individual who received an ITA based on inaccurate and material information that was inputted into the person’s Express Entry profile could correct the information at the time of application for permanent resident.  The Government of Canada has affirmed that as of November 19, 2016, foreign nationals cannot, and that where IRCC discovers inaccurate and material information in an Express Entry profile then that person’s permanent residence application will be rejected regardless of whether they correct the inaccurate information in the permanent residence application.

Conclusion 

The above changes are significant.  The Government of Canada has essentially closed off a pathway to permanent residency for many foreign workers in Canada.  At the same-time, with the exception of provincial nominee and senior managers, it has made immigrating to Canada a more uncertain, but also more level, process.

More information about the changes to Express Entry’s CRS can be found here.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about these changes.