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Allen and Hodgman | Huge changes to Express Entry program announced!
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Huge changes to Express Entry program announced!

On November 10, 2016 Canada announced huge changes to the Express Entry immigration program. This program was introduced January 1, 2015. Express Entry is a competitive, points based system. Applicants are issued invitations to apply for permanent residence based on their ranking against one another, not on when they first filed their applications. Points are awarded based on language ability, age, education, and work experience. Points are also awarded for a job offer in Canada, and for a provincial nomination. Total points available are 1200. Draws are held about every two weeks. The top ranked candidates are issued invitations to apply.

Until now, 600 points have been awarded for a job offer, and 600 points for a provincial nomination. All other factors combined totaled 600. The result of this system has been that nearly all successful candidates have had either a job offer or provincial nomination, and the other factors have made little or no difference. Also, any job offer had to be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LIMA”). Obtaining a LIMA is an expensive and time consuming process that requires advertising the job to determine if Canadian workers are available.

The new Minister’s Instructions have re-written that system in the following ways:

  • First and foremost, the points available for a job offer (referred to as “arranged employment”) have dropped from 600 to 50, except 200 in the case of a top level executive. This reduces the importance of a job offer, and makes the system much more competitive for persons with high language test results and strong educational credentials.
  • An LMIA is no longer required to obtain points for arranged employment. A person working on a work permit for a specific employer, such as a NAFTA worker or intra-company transferee, will also qualify, if they have worked for that employer for one year.
  • Extra points will now be awarded for Canadian degrees.
  • Provincial nominees will still receive 600 points, so an invitation is still guaranteed with a provincial nomination.
  • The time for filing the application after you receive an invitation has been increased from 60 days to 90 days.

The new point system went into effect on November 19, 2016. There have been two draws since that date. Both were limited in number and appear to have been intended to issue ITAs primarily to persons with provincial nominations. We will follow the draws closely after the new year, and expect the cutoffs to drop significantly from recent levels.