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Opportunity Lives Here

Express Entry Poses Obstacles for International Students

Canadian immigration’s new Express Entry program has some stakeholders worried

International post-graduate students at Canadian universities are finding it harder to attain Canadian permanent resident status after they complete their degrees. The difficulties reputedly come as a result of the recently launched Express Entry system and its major changes to the federal management of Canadian immigration.

Inaugurated on January 1st of the current year, Express Entry is a new system for Canadian immigration selection in which eligible candidates for permanent residency must formally express their interest in immigrating to the country. Out of this candidate pool, the Canadian government selects individuals to apply for Canadian permanent residency according to a system of points (out of 1,200), awarded on the basis of various criteria. For example, Express Entry candidates earn 600 points if they have a Canadian job offer or a nomination from a Canadian province – which usually requires a valid job offer – and a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to prove that no Canadian permanent residents or citizens are qualified, available, and willing to take the position. Other criteria for points include such characteristics and qualifications as age, marital status, linguistic abilities, education, and professional experience. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have already launched provincial streams categories aligned with the federal Express Entry program.

Express Entry’s ramifications for international students

While Express Entry is meant to expedite the immigration process for highly skilled immigrants, it is perceived as having negative consequences for international students who plan to remain in the country after finishing their studies. Previously, these students could pursue permanent residency without the need for an LMIA from their employers. When the majority of international students graduate from Canadian post-secondary institutions, they become eligible for an open work permit that may be issued for up to three years, during which time many students acquire experience in the labour market in order to gain eligibility for Canadian permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class.

In the past, the Canadian Experience Class program effectively ensured eventual Canadian permanent residency to international students who desired it. Prior to Express Entry, eligible candidates could directly apply to the program, but now they must be chosen from the candidate pool of individuals who have formally filed an expression of interest in permanently immigrating to the country. Moreover, the points-based system means that the most highly ranked candidates receive priority. Express Entry submissions do not guarantee that the candidates will secure an invitation to apply.

In 2014, enrollment of international students at Canadian universities totaled nearly 300,000 — many of whom were attracted in part by the chance to apply for Canadian permanent residency after graduation. Through their payment of considerable tuition fees and their regular consumption of goods and services, these students contribute significantly to the Canadian economy during their university careers, yet the new changes entailed by Express Entry leave them in a problematic position if they hope to remain in Canada.

Are you an international who desires to reside permanently in Canada after your studies? An immigration lawyer at our firm can help inform you of your options. Contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America at 1-855-360-4333.