A report by the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration reveals that almost half of the applicants who qualified for permanent residency within the first three weeks of the launch of the Express Entry system were already residing in Canada.
According to the report, which was obtained through the Access to Information Act, the first draw of the express-entry pool selected the top 775 candidates, of which 346 (45%) were living in Canada. Among applicants living abroad, 13% were from India, and 4.5% from the United Arab Emirates.
The report also showed that the first batch of skilled workers included “professionals in natural and applied sciences, and industrial, electrical and construction trades.” Under the Express Entry system, more points are awarded to skilled immigrants who have a permanent job offer along with a positive labour market impact assessment (LMIA).
Immigration experts believe that most of the resident applicants may be temporary foreign workers, as the Express Entry system rewards those who are already working in Canada.
“The first three draws for express entry were mostly temporary foreign workers with valid LMIAs,” says Sarah Anson-Cartwright, director of skills policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The report also shows that the highest number of express entry applications came from citizens of India, Philippines, and Pakistan, whereas China (usually the top source of permanent residency applicants) ranked sixth after Ireland and Nigeria.
“If the trend holds, it looks like express entry is going to be a real game-changer for where Canada sources skilled workers,” said one immigration expert.
The Express Entry system was launched by Canada on January 1, 2015 in an attempt to attract foreign workers to apply for jobs for which there are no locally available workers. The second draw on February 7th resulted in the selection of 779 skilled workers, while the third draw on February 20th saw 849 workers being selected.
The Canadian government has so far offered permanent residency to 7,776 skilled immigrants under the express entry system, and says it is happy with the results so far. “The fact that everyone who was invited to apply for permanent residence in this round of invitations already has a valid job offer or provincial nomination shows that Express Entry is working to fill Canada’s existing labour market gaps,” says Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
The Express Entry system is a point-based system where applicants are put in a pool and ranked based on points they earn in different categories. Skilled immigrants can earn up to 1,200 points under the system, with 600 points being allotted to those who have an existing job offer or a provincial nomination. Applicants can also earn up to 500 points under categories of education, age, language proficiency and Canadian work experience. Another 100 points can be earned for transferable skills like international work experience, education, and a certificate in the trades.
The top scoring candidates in the express entry pool are then selected through a draw, which is held by the government every two weeks. The selected candidates are sent “invitations to apply” for permanent residency in Canada.
Upon receipt of an “invitation to apply”, the candidates have 60 days to accept or decline the invitation. Those who have not received the invitation after 12 months of applying have to re-apply.
Top 10 countries from where express-entry candidates were selected in the first draw:
1. India: 228 candidates (29.4 per cent)
2. Philippines: 122 candidates (15.7 per cent)
3. Pakistan: 46 candidates (5.9 per cent)
4. Ireland: 34 candidates (4.3 per cent)
5. Nigeria: 29 candidates (3.7 per cent)
6. China: 29 candidates (3.7 per cent)
7. Iran: 21 candidates (2.7 per cent)
8. U.K.: 19 candidates (2.4 per cent)
9. Egypt: 18 candidates (2.3 per cent)
10.South Korea: 14 candidates (1.8 per cent)
Less than half of immigrants to Canada this year will be selected through the new Express Entry system introduced by the Conservative government, which promised to match skilled, economic migrants with employers’ needs.
Under Express Entry, over 6,850 prospective immigrants have been invited to apply for permanent residency. However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada says a majority of immigrants will only be processed through the new system by 2017. The shift to the new economic immigration system was announced in 2012 and has been in place since Jan. 1.
In its 2015 immigration levels plan, the Citizenship and Immigration ministry pledged to accept 260,000 to 285,000 new permanent residents, about two-thirds of them economic migrants. To meet that target, the government needs to admit about 22,500 immigrants a month, about 10 times the number that are admitted through Express Entry at present. Most new immigrants this year will have to be selected through the old system, which was criticized because it was slow and operated on first-come, first-served basis.
“CIC is in a period of transition with recent implementation of Express Entry that will span approximately two years,” said Johanne Nadeau, a Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokeswoman.
CIC would not say whether it has annual targets or expectations for Express Entry admissions at this point. The number of new permanent residents coming through the program is expected to grow in 2016 to about half of all admissions. By 2017, most, if not all economic admissions should be through Express Entry, Ms. Nadeau said.
The government introduced Express Entry with much fanfare as a selection mechanism that would make economic immigration more responsive to the needs of employers and the labour market.
Under the new system, applicants in the economic streams enter a pool of candidates for initial assessment and are graded on factors such as age, education and work skills and given a score out of 1,200.
The strength of the new system was said to be fast, flexible and responsive to a changing labour market while aiming to cut processing times. Under the old system, every application had to be assessed in the order it was received, even as backlogs grew. Under Express Entry, only those with a strong chance of qualifying for permanent residency need further assessment.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Current policies and target levels under the Economic Class and Family Class suggest that between 20,000 – 35,000 applicants will be invited to apply for permanent residence under Express Entry in 2015.
2015-01-06 | 2015 FC 13 | IMM-3613-13
Ebi v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)
- A settlement between an applicant and CIC does not constitute a court ordered settlement under 87.4(2) of the IRPA.
- An immigration decision made by operation of law cannot be contested on grounds of procedural fairness.
Ebi applied for judicial review of the decision of a visa officer to reject her application for Federal Skilled Worker class [FSW] permanent residency.
Ebi first submitted her FSW application in 2006. In 2009, Ebi’s file was closed without a final decision as she failed to provide certain required documents. The case was later reopened through a settlement offer from the CIC. After several years of delay, processing of the file began again. In August 2013, CIC send Ebi a letter stating that her application had been rejected due to non-compliance with s. 87.4 of the IRPA.
87.4(1) states that any FSW application started before February 27, 2008 is terminated if, before March 29, 2012, a final decision has not been made. 87.4(2) states that an applicant is protected from this rule if he has entered into a settlement made by court order prior to March 29, 2012.
The Federal Court upheld the officer’s decision for two reasons. Firstly the Court opined that a settlement agreed to between Ebi and CIC did not constitute a court ordered settlement under 87.4(2). Secondly, the court opined that Ebi did not have recourse to procedural fairness-based arguments concerning the delay in her application’s processing time because the application had been terminated by operation of law. The application for judicial review was dismissed.
2015-02-18 | 2015 FC 206 | IMM-446-14
Asoyan v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)
Once an applicant indicates that she is having trouble receiving e-mails from CIC, it is CIC’s duty to ensure that the applicant receives all subsequent e-mails.
Asoyan applied for judicial review of CIC’s decision to reject her application for permanent residency.
During her application, Asoyan provided CIC with an e-mail address to be used for all communications regarding her application.
In February 2013, CIC sent Asoyan an e-mail requiring that she provide information concerning a gap in her personal history as stated in her application. Asoyan contended that she did not receive this e-mail. CIC never followed up to ensure that Asoyan received the information request. CIC was already aware of Asoyan’s difficulty receiving e-mails, as Asoyan had previously brought it to CIC’s attention that she never received an Acknowledgement of Receipt e-mail concerning her initial application.
Assoyan’s application was eventually rejected due to her failure to provide the information requested in the February e-mail.
The Federal Court opined that once the Asoyan had made it clear that she was not receiving CIC’s e-mails, it was CIC’s responsibility to ensure that she received all information relevant to her application. Thus, in not making any effort to ensure that Asoyan received the information request in February 2013, CIC had breached its duty of procedural fairness. The application for judicial review was allowed.
2015-01-16 | 2015 FC 67 | IMM-4516-13
Ijaz v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)
In the context of education received in a foreign country, there is ambiguity in the IRP regulations concerning whether educational qualification points should be awarded based on equivalent years of education or equivalent completed degrees.
Ijaz applied for judicial review of a CIC officer’s rejection of her application for permanent residency as a Federal Skilled Worker.
Ijaz argued that she was erroneously awarded 5 educational qualification points when she was actually entitled to 19 points. If Ijaz had been awarded 19 points, her application would have succeeded.
Ijaz submitted evidence that she had completed secondary school, a two-year science degree and a two-year accounting degree in Pakistan. Upon evaluation, it was determined that Ijaz’s educational experience constituted the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma, two years of Canadian undergraduate schooling and two years of Canadian professional schooling.
Ijaz argued that she should have been awarded points for her four years of post-secondary schooling while CIC argued that educational qualification points are only provided for foreign educational experience that constitutes the equivalent of a completed degree in Canada. Thus, given that Ijaz had not been assessed as having completed the equivalent of a Canadian bachelor or professional degree, she only received points for her equivalent high school diploma.
The Federal Court applied the standard of reasonableness to the case as the matter involved a CIC officer interpreting a statute with which he had substantial experience. The Court then opined that both Ijaz and the CIC’s arguments were reasonable interpretations of the IRP Regulations. The Court thus deferred to the CIC’s rejection of the application and submitted a certified question on the legislative ambiguity.
The application for judicial review was dismissed. The certified question has not yet been answered.
2015-02-12 | 2015 FC 172 | IMM-5323-13
Barua v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)
- A foreign national applying for a work permit with the intention of eventually becoming a permanent resident can be validly excluded from Canada if it seems likely that he will not leave Canada upon the expiration of his work permit.
- A foreign national applying for a work permit with the intention of eventually becoming a permanent resident will be subject to s. 20(1)(1) of the IRPA
Barua sought judicial review of a border service officer’s order that he be excluded from Canada.
Barua, a foreign national, applied for a work permit. During his interview with a border service officer, Barua stated an intention to eventually become a permanent resident of Canada. The officer subsequently ordered that Barua be excluded from Canada.
The officer argued that Barua had violated s. 20(1)(a) of the IRPA, which states that any foreign national who seeks to enter Canada to become a permanent resident must hold either a permanent residency visa or other documents required by regulation. Barua did not possess said documents at the time of his interview.
Barua argued that the officer did not consider s. 22(2) of the IRPA, which states that a foreign national’s intention to become a permanent resident does not preclude him from applying for temporary residency if it is clear he will leave Canada at the end of his authorized stay.
The court confirmed the border service officer’s decision, as there was no evidence that Barua intended to leave Canada upon the expiration of his work permit. The court also found Barua to have violated s. 20(1)(a) of the IRPA as he did not possess the requisite permanent residency application documents at the time of his interview. The application for judicial review was dismissed.
The NDP has criticized the recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that will force many people waiting for permanent residency to leave the country, and has called on the Canadian government to grant them an extension of stay.
The changes require all temporary foreign workers who have been working in Canada for four years to leave starting from April 1.
The NDP has sent a letter to Ministers Pierre Poilievre and Chris Alexander, calling for a reprieve for TFWs who have pending permanent residency applications. The NDP argues that this would also benefit employers who have invested time and money to train these workers.
“These workers had the courage to come to Canada, and they worked hard, followed the rules and contributed to our economy because they were told they could eventually apply for Canadian citizenship. This Conservative government has broken that promise,” says NDP citizenship and immigration critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe.
“It seems unjust and cruel treatment to them to say now you’re leaving because the government has chosen an arbitrary date of April 1st,” says NDP employment and social development critic Jinny Sims. “The Conservatives have systematically taken away pathways to citizenship for lower-skilled temporary foreign workers. And now, with this completely arbitrary deadline, they are forcing individuals who have already applied for permanent residency to leave the country,” she added.
More immigrants chose to make Nova Scotia their home last year than at any time in the last 10 years, the provincial government said Monday. According to a statement issues by Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab 2,661 immigrants settled in the province in 2014.
Since 2004, when 1,771 immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia, the number rose almost every year and peaked at 2,651 in 2008 before dropping off to 2,138 in 2011 and increasing steadily in the past three years.
Among last year’s immigrants, 717 people came through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program — the highest figure to date for the program. According to the government, a total of 1,050 individuals are expected to gain permanent residency through the program in 2015.
According to Diab an increasing number of immigrants are choosing to stay in the province. The latest figures from Statistics Canada indicate 71 per cent of immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2007-2011 stayed in the province. Between 2003 and 2007 the retention rate for immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between was 69 per cent.
Diab said the province has streamlined the application process for skilled and educated immigrants, strengthened ties between government and settlement service providers and changed the nominee program to allow international students to stay in Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotia is a welcoming community and we want to ensure our province is seen by immigrants as an excellent choice,” Diab said in a statement.
In 2014, the government accepted a major economic development report that said the province is facing a prolonged economic decline unless population and economic trends are reversed and suspicious attitudes about business are changed. The report was co-authored by Acadia University president Ray Ivany and stated that Nova Scotia’s population was expected to decline over the next 20 years due to young people continuing to leave the province in search of work.
The report says that by 2036, the province expects to have 100,000 fewer working-age people than it did in 2010.
Ivany said the number of people admitted annually to the province should be tripled.
Manitoba has revised the requirements of its provincial nominee program for business, increasing the required deposit amount from foreign investors to $100,000. In addition, investors will have to pay a non-refundable processing fee and will be subject to regular assessments of their businesses.
The changes are a result of the increasing number of non-Canadians accessing the program as a relatively inexpensive way to get permanent residency for themselves and their immediate families.
Under the old rules, immigrants interested in getting into business in Manitoba were given permanent residence in return for a $75,000 deposit, which would be refunded if they invested up to $150,000 in a business within two years of landing.
But an increase in the number of nominees who forfeited their deposits and moved to other provinces has prompted the latest change to the rules and led to an increase in the required deposit amount.
Experts remain unconvinced that these changes will be sufficient to prevent nominees from leaving the province as previously.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The intention component of submitting an application under a provincial program remains one of the biggest challenge for policy makers. It is doubtful that these changes will impact on the current retention rates for Manitoba.
Thousands of petitioners will be protesting on Parliament Hill on March 1, urging the government for an audit of Citizenship and Immigration Canada which has a backlog of about 10,000 spousal immigration applications.
Petitioners say the long delays are putting their lives on hold, as they have to wait while being unemployed and with no access to health care.
Under the spousal sponsorship program, an application for permanent residency has to go through two phases. In the first phase, the average waiting time can be up to 17 months, while the second phase where medical and background checks are done can take another eight months. CIC has also been criticized for increasing the processing times, which used to be better earlier, and not making an effort to clearly communicate the procedures to the candidates. “CIC change their procedures so frequently that backlogs can appear and disappear out no where. It makes it very difficult to advise people,” says an immigration practitioner.
Last month, CIC launched a pilot project, providing work permits to certain applicants so they could work temporarily during the waiting period. Eduardo has applied for this but has not yet heard back from the immigration department.
The Express Entry program offers another option to spouses in waiting, who can use it to apply for permanent residency, especially if they have an existing job offer. The processing time under Express Entry is under six months and may prove to be a more viable option for certain applicants. However, not all petitioners find this a suitable alternative, with one saying that spouses must not change their immigration status as “most inland families have waited for so long, it makes no sense to scrap spousal sponsorship and try to legalize status as skilled workers.”