Ten years ago, if you were a fifty year old bio chemist with a PhD, twenty years’ experience in large corporations in your home country but had below average English or French language skills, you could apply to get into Canada as an immigrant and many such hopefuls did. However a few months after arriving in Canada, you quickly found out that it was hard to get a job because of the language and age barriers. Also the economic realities of immigration meant you would likely have to take a job far below your skill set often turning to unskilled labor initially as a temporary phase but quickly turning into a permanent reality. Subsequent statistics naturally showed a big drop in income levels for new immigrants to Canada.
In 2008 Jason Kenney took on the Immigration portfolio with zeal. Most of his predecessors had used that position to move on to other cabinet posts resulting in virtual musical chairs in this Ministerial role. Not this one! This Minister’s stint was the longest one in Canadian history! Kenney stayed for five years completely overhauling a rusty inefficient system by eliminating backlogs reaching almost a million applicants, dealing with corrupt consultants and closing obvious loopholes in various program with the goal of turning immigration into a new more labour responsive one.
Between Minister Jason Kenney (now Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly HRSDC) and Minister for Multiculturalism) and our current Minister Chris Alexander Minister for Citizenship and Immigration the rolling out of the new Express Entry program in January 2015 will ensure that many of the problems with the old system will not occur and Canada will get a brand new immigration system that is more responsive to labour market needs and keep us competitive in the global race for human capital. Express Entry will encompass four programs: Federal Skilled Worker (FSW). Federal Skilled Trades (FST)Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Express Entry will take some time getting used to as it is a different way of selecting immigrants, but it is a smarter way. Here’s how:
The old system was based entirely on the actions of the prospective applicant choosing to immigrate to Canada without any correlation between their skills and prospects for employment in Canada. The new system will ensure that immigrants who are provided with an invitation to apply for immigration have a better chance of being gainfully employed in their field.
- The old system meant physical sending of applications and documents. The new system is fully digital thereby allowing easier and swifter processing of files.
- The previous program required the government to process every application even if applicants did not meet the set criteria. This resulted in unnecessary waste to all parties! The mandatory processing of applicants contributed to the backlogs. Applicants were required to submit and pay processing fees regardless of potential success.
The new system ensures that a quick use of the online tool will show you whether you meet the points needed to qualify in order to be given an invitation to apply. (See http://www.cic.gc.ca/ctc-vac/ee-start.asp) after which you create a secure profile on MYCIC.
- The online questionnaire factors in well researched elements on immigrant outcomes, providing prospective immigrants with a more realistic perspective of their credentials, skills and experience as well as areas of weaknesses that they can build upon to succeed in Canada. If you do not qualify, it will provide you with what you need to do in order to meet the requirements. If you do qualify, you will be placed into a pool of applicants that employers will be able to connect with to provide immediate job offers. You will also be provided with an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
- Before the streamlining of the immigration system, it used to take immigrants five to eight years to get their visa. This new system aims to have a six month turnaround time.
- Having a job offer in hand will certainly propel you to the top of the list, but it is not mandatory. Candidates who have received preliminary approval but do not have a job offer will register with the Canada Job Bank which will allow them to be connected with Canadian employers seeking their specific skill set.
- Getting into this ‘pool’ is not static as candidates can improve their chances of being chosen in several ways by taking additional courses relevant to their occupation, improving language skills or obtaining a job offer from a Canadian employer.
Until now, employers could only recruit international talent through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or through Provincial Nominee Programs. Now the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Federal skilled trades, the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program will all be open to employers who can choose this route if no Canadian Candidate is available.
Here’s how it will help employers:
- Express Entry candidates with a job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or provincial/territorial nomination certificate will be given enough additional points to be invited to apply at the next eligible draw of candidates.
- The Canada Job Bank will provide an opportunity for eligible employers in Canada and Express Entry candidates to connect. Later in 2015, Job Bank will “match” eligible employers with Express Entry candidates who meet their job description when there are no Canadians or permanent residents available to do the job.
- There will be no LMIA fee for permanent residence applications.
- In 80% of cases, permanent residence applications will be processed in six months or less.
Additionally, an employer who currently employs a temporary foreign worker (TFW) can use Express Entry to support their application for permanent residence.
Studies based on demographic challenges in Canada indicate that Canada will need to rely on immigration for many years to come to sustain economic growth. The new Express Entry program will enhance Canada’s ability to select the most appropriate immigrants for immediate labour market needs and process those applications in a timely manner.
It is expected that as a result of this new system we will be able to compete on a global basis for the finest human capital that wishes to seek to migrate to Canada. Immigrants who will come in through the express entry system will have higher outcomes benefitting Canada economically and we will not be wasting global human capital through underemployment of immigrants.
While there will be an adjustment period in using the new system, it will once fully functional be faster, demand driven and will save tax payers in the long run.
By Nick Noorani, January 05, 2015