Immigration Policy Changes in Canada: New Express Entry Program

Canada may have the reputation of a welcoming country for international students, but new immigration processes which debuted in January of 2015 are anything but casual. Read on to learn more about the new program, and what it might mean for your chances at permanent residency in the land of the maple leaf. Read more about studying in Canada here.

Introducing the Express Entry Program

Just under 105,000 international students entered Canada to study in 2012; this was a 51 percent leap from 2003’s 69,215 student arrivals. While the change in arrivals is significant in itself, the figures become even more compelling when you consider the number of students staying in Canada, which grew from 159,425 in 2003 to 265,404 in 2012 — a 66 percent increase. The takeaway? Not only is Canada an increasingly popular destination for international students, but more and more of them are opting to stay longer. The new policy, however, may take the decision out of their hands.

The Express Entry program is Canada’s response to the growing demand by international student graduates for permanent resident status. How does it work? Simply put: all international students and other prospective immigrants are placed into an electronic “pool.” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) then uses a “Comprehensive Ranking System” to assess applicants. The ranking system uses a standardized scoring scheme which factors in English and/or French proficiency, education, Canadian work experience, and “other factors leading to success in Canada.”

The Express Entry process is rolling, and only the top ranking candidates will receive the coveted “Invitation to Apply” (“ITA”). Upon receiving this invitation, candidates have 60 days to submit an online application for permanent residency.

What Does the Express Entry Program Mean for International Students?

According to CIC, “the Express Entry system was implemented to ensure that Canada’s economic and labour market needs are met.”

During a time when the country’s economy continues to suffer due to shortages of skilled laborers, the program was created not only to prioritize the candidates most likely to contribute, but also to accelerate the process of their entry into the workforce. The CIC further suggests that the program will help facilitate connections between those invited to apply and potential employers.

While the Express Entry system has many proponents, it also has its share of detractors who object to the combination of stringent requirements and quota system. Their concern? That the system may result in exceptional candidates being turned away due to issues with the timing of their work experience, lack of job offers, and other irrelevant factors.

The Globe and Mail concluded that these immigration policy changes “have made it more difficult for international students who have recently graduated from Canadian universities to qualify for permanent residence.” This assertion is countered by CIC’s claim that “we are welcoming increasing numbers of immigrants who studied in Canada and processing their applications faster than ever before.”

While who has it right remains to be seen, experts anticipate that the impact of the program will largely be determined by the scoring thresholds themselves as well as the designated quotas. We look forward to keeping you informed regarding updates as they occur — both to the Express Entry program as well as other immigration developments affecting the world’s international students.