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.