CIC’s Express Entry Program coming January 1, 2015
Crucial Facts for Canadian Employers and Prospective Immigrants
Listen to Mark Holthe’s Answer
Fact Sheet: Produced by the CBA’s National Immigration Section
- The Express Entry program is not simply a case management system. It imposes a new layer of requirements before prospective applicants are “invited” to make an economic class application for Permanent Resident (PR) status. These requirements apply to all applicants in the Federal Skill Worker (FSW), Canada Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trade (FST) Worker classes.
- CIC language leads one to believe that prospective immigrants simply need a job offer to rank highly under the Express Entry program. This means not just any job offer. To rank highest in the pool of potential immigrants and compete for an Invitation to Apply (ITA), an applicant will need a job offer that has been approved by a federal Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or supported by provincial government nomination.
- LMIA applications require employers to undertake extensive recruitment campaigns and prove that no Canadian citizens or permanent residents are available for the position. The exacting compliance regime applicable to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will therefore also apply to employers seeking to recruit permanently under Express Entry.
- If there is no LMIA or the employer does not qualify to participate in their provincial nominee program, the employer must advertise on Canada’s national job bank and pursue recruitment activities designed to attract Canadian citizens or permanent residents to replace the existing employee in order to qualify for an LMIA. Employers will be required to justify why they have not hired Canadians to replace the incumbent. This applies to any foreign worker who wants to apply for permanent residence with the support of a federally approved offer of employment, including senior managers, executives and specialized knowledge workers now employed in Canada through LMIA-exempt programs.
- For professionals and intra-company transferees who qualify to work in Canada without a LMIA under international trade agreements (i.e. NAFTA, Canada-Chile FTA), employers will now need to obtain an LMIA or a provincial nomination to attain some measure of certainty about eligibility for permanent residence status.
- International students who have come to Canada for international study and offered assurances of an easy pathway to permanent residence will now have to obtain LMIAs or provincial nomination to compete for an ITA. This means that international graduates who are not provincially nominated will need to have their entry-level job offers vetted by ESDC to assess whether they are displacing Canadians. Employers of new graduates will have to demonstrate that they are prepared to pay international graduates above entry-level wages for the occupation and that their newly acquired skills are in demand in the Canadian labour market.
- Canadian employers in key tourist destinations like Whistler and Banff will have to seek LMIAs to retain employees who entered Canada under long-standing bilateral youth exchange programs, such as the International Experience Class and Working Holiday Programs. Employers will have the costly administrative burden of seeking LMIAs for employees who have proven themselves integral to the operations of Canada’s thriving tourist and hospitality sectors.
- Genuine and well-intentioned employers will be forced to falsely advertise vacancies and clog Canada’s newly improved national job bank with positions that are already filled by highly qualified skilled personnel (such as Canada Research Chairs and CEOs of major Canadian companies) that employers want to retain permanently. By requiring employers to advertise for permanent LMIAs to better position their employees’ chances of success under Express Entry, the government will skew Canadian labour market data and compromise the effectiveness of its employer-employee matching program.
- When creating a personal profile in the pre-application phase of Express Entry, applicants must ensure that all information entered into their electronic profile is 100% accurate and reflective of their points or human capital factors. Any data entry error or misunderstanding of the requirements in the pre-application phaseof the process could be construed by CIC as a misrepresentation, which is an immigration offence carrying a five year ban on entry to Canada.
- On receipt of an ITA, applicants could have their selection or invitation to apply revoked if they fail to perfectly complete their application through the new online portal being developed by CIC. If the application is deemed incomplete for any reason, applicants must return to the pool and hope they receive a second invitation to apply.
- Provincial nominees who would otherwise not have to take a language test or have their foreign education credentials assessed will have to take these steps to qualify for entry into the provincial nomination pool in the Express Entry stream. Similarly, CEC applicants with foreign education, who do not usually need an educational assessment, will need one to rank higher under the Comprehensive Ranking System. Foreign secondary and postsecondary educational credentials each require an Education Credential Assessment for CRS points. Obtaining an Education Credential Assessment from a CIC accredited third party education assessor can be very time consuming, especially for those whose education was completed before digitization of records.
- The government’s electronic system for selecting immigrants for Express Entry and matching employers with suitable applicants lacks transparency and certainty. Uncertainty will lead to the perception that Canada is not open for business, as companies cannot ascertain in advance whether they can retain key personnel in Canada. Similarly, the world’s best and the brightest candidates will seek out immigration programs that offer concrete criteria for selection.
- Under Express Entry, the government has promised to process applications in six months or less. Timely processing of immigration applications is key to Canada’s ability to compete for global talent. CIC needs an ascertainable bridging mechanism in place to allow those working in Canada to continue to do so until their permanent status is granted. CIC has stated that bridge work permits under Express Entry will be available only after approval in principle of an application. This requires an assessment of the application on its merits. By delaying eligibility for a bridge work permit, applicants and Canadian employers cannot rely on a seamless transition from temporary to permanent residence. CIC is taking away the existing benefit of allowing a bridge work permit once an acknowledgment of receipt of the PR application has been issued.
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