Tag Archives: Express Entry

Expressly Challenging: A Numerical Analysis and Three Takeaways from IRCC’s 2015 Express Entry Report

On April 1, 2016, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) released it’s Express Entry Year-End Report tracking the progress of its economic immigration management system, Express Entry, since its inception in 1 January  2015.

Acknowledging the program’s growing pains throughout the report, overall IRCC seems to  insist that Express Entry has met its objectives so far. In the report, IRCC writes:

Express Entry was designed with three main objectives in mind: 1) flexibility in selection and application management, 2) responsiveness to labour market and regional needs and 3) speed in application processing. Although there have been adjustments to the system during its first year and policy concerns expressed by stakeholders, Express Entry has met its expectations.

This report,  Express Entry Year-End Report (EN) is filled with very informative statistics as to how Express Entry has been operating so far.

In my mind there are (at least) three important takeaways that I will explore in this post:

#1 – English/French Language and Canadian Temporary Residency appear to be major assets for Express Entry

Currently, official language skills make their way into economic immigration in several ways.

First, as a baseline requirement, an individual who wishes to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker program needs CLB 7+. Scores lower than this would make the applicant ineligible for assessment on the initial points grid. For the Canadian Experience Class. there is also a requirement that the Applicant meet the language requirements of CLB 5+ for NOC B and CLB 7+ fpr NOC 0, A positions.

As provided by IRCC:

If an applicant has work experience in both NOC 0, A or NOC B occupations, the applicant must satisfy the officer that they meet the minimum language proficiency threshold for the skill type/level in which they have obtained most (i.e., more than half) of their qualifying work experience [R87.1(2)(e)].

Once in Express Entry, language factors itself in up to 410 of the available 600 points (360 for most candidates). Those without strong language scores will inevitably be stuck in  a Comprehensive Ranking Score (“CRS”) range currently not being invited to Apply for Permanent Residency.

The report seems to concur with this theory. Looking at the top 10 source countries of citizenship for Express Entry, one can adduce that English/French language skills poke its way into the selection process.

The report listed the top 10 countries of citizenship for those who receive Invitations to Apply (“ITA”) allowing them to apply for permanent residency via an electronic Application for Permanent Residency (“eAPR”). You will note that 8 of the 10 countries listed have English or French as an official language.

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Countries of residence also appear to follow a similar trend, with the added fact that a large majority of those successful in obtaining an ITA reside in Canada. These are individuals who can we deduce have first come to Canada, likely as temporary resident workers or students.

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I do wonder what percentage of these stats are skewed by the use of authorized representative portals but nonetheless it still suggests a key trend that language and Canadian residence matter.

Perhaps, the above stats change the way we as practitioners may want to advise those without Canadian temporary residency/work experience. Rather than suggesting that the client “do another language test and increase their scores”, there may be some benefit to crafting a short-term strategy (based on work or study) that could potentially lead to eligibility under the Canadian Experience Class. The added benefit is such a strategy would likely increase their possibility of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) based offer of arranged employment or a Provincial Nomination.

You can also see this reflected in the fact that final decision processing for Canadian Experience Class is 1.3 months faster than for Federal Skilled Worker presumably due to the scrutiny required with overseas-based qualify work experience.

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#2 – Applications are being bounced more than refused and at a higher rate than one would expect

As I discussed in an earlier post commenting on the trends I was seeing with Express Entry incompleteness/refusals, the problem of bounced applications is a major barrier to applicants.

Express Entry applications can be bounced for a variety of factors. Some of the common ones are:

  • Missing police certificates or certificates not yet received (very prevalent due to change in rule requiring police certificates for countries resided in cumulatively for 6 months or more and well-documented FBI police certificate delays);
  • Insufficient letters of reference (often times challenge in getting references for old jobs or where old employers refuse to provide adequate letters);
  • Failure in properly uploading complete documentation; and
  • A11.2 findings where an applicant has had a birthday, a new child, forgotten/failed  to submit a document or new evidence that has now decreased their points etc.

This is just to name a few.

The 2015 report seems to confirm that bounced applications are a big problem for Express Entry;

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If we go back to our overall chart for final processing, we see that out of the 16,491 applications finalized, 14,058 were approved and 2,433 were refused.  On the surface, this statistic does not look bad and accounts for a ratio of about 5.78 Approvals to 1 Refusal.

However, if we look at this other statistic from earlier in the report, the situation looks much more bleak.

Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 10.31.54 AM

This statistic tell us that out of the 37,424 applicants (21,562 applications received), 15,246 are in progress and 14, 058 have been approved. Doing simple math, we are left with 22, 178 applicants received of which only 16,491 were finalized as approvals/refusals. From this, we can deduce the bounce/incompleteness  rate to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of ([22,178-16491]/22,178) or 25.64%.

The consequences of a system where 1 out of 4  eAPR applicants are not even making it to a final decision (some perhaps through abandonment) are staggering. It means the system is not as intuitive as it can be and there is much room for improvement. It also means that Applicants may need more legal advice than they are currently seeking out for Express Entry.

 

#3 – The Backlog from Pre-Express Entry Continues to Exist and Eat Up Cap Space

If we return to the Conservative Government’s 2015 immigration levels plan, we can see how much of that space appears to have been made up of Express Entry.

In 2015, the projections were:

Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 9.38.17 AM

Assuming, just the low for now the projection was for 68,000 economic applicants to be granted permanent residency.

We know the actual number of 2015 Express Entry Approvals were 14, 058.

There are two possible conclusions from this. Either a majority of processing (79%) is still occurring on backlogged Canadian Experience Class/Federal Skilled Worker files from before January 1, 2015 or the Government has grossly missed its economic immigration targets for 2015.

In 2016, it now seems somewhat more understandable that the Liberal Government would reduce its target to 58,400 by 25,600. Perhaps Express Entry is indeed a system where promising less and delivering more may be the best strategy.

 

Conclusion

Many applicants and their representatives around Canada have been expressing their frustration with Express Entry. It appears that those frustrations are understandable. The old, the non-English speaking, even the slightly imperfect applicant is subject to either a low score or a bounced application.

With even lower projections in 2016 and no sense that the scores will be raised to unattainable thresholds, the only logical consequence is more refusals and bounced applications.

Applicants through Express Entry may want to think of pursuing dual intent (concurrent permanent and temporary) options or seek assessment under a provincial nomination program while Express Entry figures itself out. One of the strategies IRCC should employ, in addition to further educating applicants, is a secondary review/reconsideration mechanism.

Counsel for these Applicants should also be reviewing refusals more closely. Several of my colleagues have seen their Judicial Review practice increase quite significantly and many of these refusals/incompleteness findings are being overturned prior to the case ever reaching the Courts.

 

 

Express Entry: Expressly Wrong on Older, English ‘Competent’ Economic Immigrants

Express-Entry-Tips

There is much that is good about Express Entry, the online application management system introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in January 2015. Few can complain about the (so-far) expedited processing times and arguably even the program’s ability to scoop up the top, most qualified candidates. For all its glitches, Express Entry has helped modernize Canada’s previously broken first-come, first-serve paper-based system.

However, in my opinion there is something very bad – and in my mind, very misguided from a policy perspective, about Express Entry’s point system. I am speaking about the system’s unqualified prejudice against older migrants from non-English speaking countries. I believe this has negative consequences on our Canadian cultural mosaic and may even carry unintended economic consequences.

The Problem 

Express Entry’s point system awards to potential economic immigrants, allowing them to receive an Invitation to Apply (“ITA”) for Permanent Residence. In order to create a profile and enter the Express Entry applicant pool, applicants must first qualify for one of the three economic programs, the most popular of which are the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”) and the Federal Skilled Worker (“FSW”) programs. Both programs have minimum language requirements in either English or French. For the CEC, the minimum language requirement depends on the classification of the skilled job for which the Applicant is claiming experience. For the FSW, performance on the required language tests above and beyond the minimum can increase one’s points towards their overall qualification for the program. For the most skilled positions under the CEC and for all FSW applicants, at least a “competent” level of English is required.

Only the FSW program considers age as a factor, although it is not a baseline requirement. Applicants under the age of 18 or over the age of 47 are awarded 0 points out of 12. As the overall point system is out of 100, for which 67 points is a minimum requirement, age is not a determinative factor for eligibility.

After meeting the basic requirements of one of eligible economic immigration programs, applicants are then scored according to the Express Entry’s Cumulative Ranking Score System (“CRS”). As 600 points of the maximum 1,200 points are allocated to having a valid job offer supported by a third-party employer either through a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) or a provincial nomination, a majority of potential applicants essentially compete within a 600-point system. As of the date of this article, a majority of the draws have been in the upper 400’s with several draws in the 500-700 point range. The lowest draw so far has been 450 points.

For Language and Express Entry, the English “competent” candidate earns an average of 64 points, assuming equivalency among their reading, writing, speaking, and listening sills. A candidate that is a “good” or “very good” user (keeping in mind that the later is a standard just below expert user/native speaker) is awarded an average of 116 points. In addition, these later candidates automatically increase their skill transferability (another important CRS factor) points adding anywhere from 16 to 50 points to their score depending on their education and work experience. It is therefore fair to say that applicants who are merely competent in English obtain 75 fewer CRS points then someone with greater (near native-speaking) competency.

From an age perspective, the effect on CRS points is even more pronounced. Under the CRS, a 45-year old applicant loses 110 points compared to a 20-29 year old applicant. Even a 40-year old applicant, with a spouse who could be much younger loses 60 points.

Consequentially, a competent English speaker (let us assume from a non-English speaking country) who is 40 years old, married with young children and who has a potential 25-year old working career in Canada loses 135 points right away.

To put it in perspective, even if the applicant obtains maximum scores in every other category they could only obtain a maximum 465 points out of 600, just 15 points above the lowest drawn score in 2015.

 

Not in Line Policy Research or Canadian Immigration’s Legislative Objectives

While the literature in this area is complex and varying in its results, it does suggest that Express Entry’s current policy on age and language is highly misguided.

A recent August 2015 Statistics Canada/CIC report suggests that language is not effective as a long-term economic-earning indicator.

This finding is not altogether surprising. In a 2012 article titled, “Language and Immigrant Labour Market Performance: What Does the Economics Literature Tell Us?” Canadian Economics Professor Mikal Skuterad asks whether it is reasonable to believe Canada can maintain current immigration levels and increase language criteria without sacrificing other desirable qualities of immigrants. In his piece, Professor Skuterad suggests that Canada’s emphasis on high language requirements may be too focused on short-term outcomes, and too neglectful of the importance of post-migration language training required via settlement services. In short, pre-migration language is an overemphasized indicator of economic success.

I would argue that age, while a long-term indicator of economic success according to the August 2015 CIC report, is overemphasized as a factor in Express Entry. Importantly, it is out of touch with economic realities. Our most recent studies of the issue in 2011 showed that even in Canada, where welfare and social services are readily available, the age of mothers at first birth was increasing towards record pace.

If we assume Canada is most desirable as a place of permanent residence for young families with the financial capacity to move and elementary/high-school aged children serving as a major impetus for the move, we should expect a high number of late thirties/early fourties applicants. Yet, this is the very group that Express Entry punishes through the prejudicial point system.

Overall, putting such a high emphasis on language or age of potential economic immigrants does not further the objectives of Canada’s legislated aims as stated in section 3 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act states:

Objectives — immigration

  • (1) The objectives of this Act with respect to immigration are
  • (a) to permit Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration;
  • (b) to enrich and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada;

Combined, I would argue that creating a point system those only benefits younger immigrants from English-speaking countries does not serve to maximize the social and cultural benefits of immigration. If anything, a program that discriminates against older, non-speaking applicants narrows our country’s definition of the ‘desirable immigrant’ and creates an unnecessary, disincentive for economic immigration. Furthermore, while I do not believe past studies have been done on this issue, I would argue that the economic and immigration mobility of the types of fluent, young immigrants Canada currently desires will lead many to eventually pursue opportunities as overseas ex-pats rather than as Canadian-resident taxpayers.

 

Where do we go from here?

There is some hope. The governing Liberals have promised it will be re-examine the point system and may allocate additional points to individuals with Canadian relatives. However, I don’t think that is enough. I think it is enough that a potential immigrant meets minimum language requirements. I also think the age of a potential immigrant’s spouse and children should be qualifying factors. The 45-year old father of three Canadian kids who will have a lifetime to pay it forward to the Canadian economy should not be perceived as too old for Canada.

However, clearly some points are missing. Should students who studied in Canada receive more points under Express Entry? Should potential immigrants with current jobs held on other form of work permits receive more points? Arguably so. Should the economic immigrant who has started his or her own business or invested in the business of his or her son or daughter receive some points? Should an economic applicant who has a spousal sponsorship application in process receive additional points to facilitate their own immigration process? I would think that all the above would make sense.

Express Entry has much room to improve. Change, on the issue of language and age, is

 

 

 

Why is Express Entry So Tough on International Students?

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A common theme of many of my recent consultations has been the challenge many international students are experiencing as a result of Express Entry. I am finding more and more second and third-year international students asking me about best practices in planning their paths to permanent residency.

There are several reasons why this path is so difficult

1.  Meeting Basic Economic Immigration Program Requirements Tough for Many International Students

First, just to meet the basic requirement of either the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Worker a year of skilled experience (at a NOC 0, A, B level) is required.

For the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), that work experience must consist of one year obtained within the past three years and cannot include work experience obtained while on a study permit (e.g. as a co-op student or during scheduled breaks). It also excludes time working as a contractor, an economic model growing increasingly popular for its Canadian tax-benefits to employers during the economic crisis. For newly graduated international students, who can be granted no more than three-year post-graduate work permits, obtaining that one-year of skilled work experience can be a tall order.

For the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program, the one-year of skilled work experience can be in the past ten years, but that work experience has to have been continuous over a period of a year. Many international students have had to balance work and school, many taking part-time jobs that are not considered continuous under the FSW program requirements

2.  Express Entry Does Not Award International Students Favourable Points

Second, many of the points that are awarded for Express Entry that bring individuals over the threshold are awarded for language and work experience (or a combination of both). For example, under the skill transferability factors in part C for the Comprehensive Ranking Score (“CRS”) criteria, two or more years of Canadian work experience, two or more years of foreign work experiences, or CLB 9+ can double CRS scores in this caregory. Again, work experience is difficult to come by for young individuals and many international students (particularly from non-English speaking jurisdictions) may find it difficult to obtain the CLB 9+ that boost CRS scores

3.  Employers Will Be Hesitant to Pursue LMIAs for Skilled International Graduates

Third, Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) for newly-minted international graduates are difficult to obtain. Holding a valid LMIA for a skilled position awards an Express Entry applicant 600 points and, as of this current date, guarantees them an invitation to apply for permanent residency. Many individuals after the expiry of a three-year work permit find that they require to obtain LMIAs in order to get a work permit that will allow them to work beyond their PGWP.

Unfortunately for them, in most circumstances employers will have to advertise the position to demonstrate that another Canadian cannot fill an international student’s shoes and do not possess equivalent qualifications. In this difficult job market, most non-managerial skilled positions will attract multiple candidates, many of whom are equally, if not, more qualified than the Canadian. Unless the candidate has a unique profile (that can’t include a third language in most cases, as a third language cannot be a job requirement unless it is mandatory for the position), it will be difficult to prove.

Finally, with CIC’s new employer compliance system which subjects Employers to sever administrative monetary penalties that can range up to the millions of dollars, the cost benefit of hiring an international student may not justify the associated compliance cost

4.  Many Skilled Worker PNP Programs Require “Several Years of Work Experience.”

In British Columbia, the BC Provincial Nomination Program Express Entry category, requires that an applicant have several years of related experience in the occupation. More recently, the BC PNP has come down more firmly on the requirement that several years is equivalent to at least two years. The challenge here is most International Graduates are given maximum three-year work permits. This essentially requires them to have two years of skilled experience in that particular NOC occupation. International students who start in entry level, low-skilled positions, such as bank tellers and customer service representatives will find this very difficult to achieve.

 Potential Tips for International Students

Unfortunately for international students, many of those looking for permanent residency two years into their post-graduate work permit will be limited to skilled worker categories. Individuals should begin planning their educational and work paths right away.

For example provincial nomination programs designed for international graduates become have become more important in today’s Express Entry environment. Here in British Columbia, the International Graduates Program (as of the date of this piece) is currently available only through Express Entry. Importantly, eligibility for this program requires applying within two-years of graduation.

While having to meet Express Entry requirements is a challenge, as described earlier, the 600 points provided by the nomination would counteract the low score issues.

Finally, the idea of pursuing further graduate studies prior to obtaining a PGWP may be more attractive. Further studies allow an individual to gain a key qualification that may differentiate them if a LMIA is required. It also may open up other options including post-graduate immigration streams, fellowships, and various professional positions under trade agreements, that could provide the crucial work permit required to get the necessary skilled work experience.

Forgetting A Period of Employment = Misrepresentation? Quite Probably.

Mr._forgetful

Introduction

Under Canada’s new Express Entry system for Economic Immigration, Applicants are required at the profile creation stage to list their entire employment history for the past 10 years or since the age of 18 in an electronic form.

Particularly for individuals who work contract on short term duration work, this record could be very long and it is very possible that inadvertent omissions could be made.

Upon accepting an Invitation to Apply (ITA), a pre-populated form will be created based on the jobs initially listed in the created profile. For positions not listed, a letter of explanation containing the omitted information is highly recommended. Ultimately, if there are serious discrepancies, such discrepancies should be resolved prior to accepting the Invitation to Apply as doing so begins to triggers the recording of information into CIC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS).

This all leads to a very interesting question:

Could failure to include a position of employment lead to misrepresentation? What if that period of work is not being relied upon to qualify for a specific program?

Paashazadeh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2015 FC 327

Ms. Paashazadeh was a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Applicant who in her application failed to disclose two period of employment. Upon receiving a procedural fairness letter requiring her to provide a Social Security Organization certificate, she disclosed a part-time job with a tourist company and a respective full-time job. She wrote in response to the request/procedural fairness letter that she did not intentionally withhold the material and honestly considered the work to be insignificant, given she has already fulfilled her employment requirements for the FSW program.

The Program Manager disagreed, and upon receiving the Social Security Organization certificate refused Ms. Paashazadeh’s application and cited her for misrepresentation under s.40(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Program Manager noted that the complete and accurate employment history was material to the assessment of eligibility and admissibility.

In denying the Applicant’s Judicial Review, Justice Zinn found that the employment history was material and added the following about the threshold and definition of materiality in the context of misrepresentation (emphasis added):

26     A misrepresentation need not be decisive or determinative to be material; it must only be important enough to affect the process: See Sayedi v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2012 FC 420 at paras 26-27. I agree with the respondent that a failure (innocent or otherwise) to supply a “truthful, complete and correct” application is material because it prevents the reviewing officer from assessing all of the applicant’s personal facts and to verify all of the information concerning an applicant to determine whether he or she is properly admissible to Canada.

This idea that a misrepresentation only needs to be “important enough to affect the process,” appears to be much a much lower threshold than CIC’s own policy definition of materiality (emphasis added) from ENF2/OP 18- Evaluating Inadmissibility:

10.4. Materiality

With respect to relevancy and materiality, the following principles apply:

  •  What is relevant is a broader concept than what is material.

  • All material factors will be relevant. However, what is relevant may not always prove to be material:

  • (1) information requested from applicants will be considered relevant, otherwise this information would not be requested; but

  • (2) this relevant information will not always affect the process undertaken by an officer or the final decision. Only when it affects the process undertaken, or the final decision, does it become material. At this point, misrepresentation of the information means section A40 would apply, regardless of the decision outcome.

Conclusion

Perhaps with only one case and one definition, it is premature to suggest a trend that the threshold to misrepresentation is lowering. However, this is a very important question given we know the penalties and consequences of misrepresentation are certainly increasing.

Again, it is uncertain how misrepresentation will be applied in the context of Express Entry and in the context of misrepresentation.

A question and an answer that will be update for sure.

New Express Entry Italian Page, Immigration Resources, and the Importance of Optics

On June 12, 2015, Canada’s National Defence Minister Julio Fantino on behalf of Canada’s immigration minister, Chris Alexander announced the creation of a new Italian-language resource to help promote Italian immigration to Canada via Canada’s online processing system for economic immigration, Express Entry. The news release can be found here.

I think that recognition by the Federal Government of the imbalance of immigration from certain parts of the world is a good thing. More Italian immigrants to Canada, where many of our top politicians, athletes, and businesspeople have Italian roots is also a fundamentally good thing.

I also think providing resources in languages outside of Canada’s two national languages is fundamental and crucial to attracting top-class immigrants. Before an applicant goes off to taking language exams in one of the two languages, they often times (and many years prior to actually landing in Canada) have to decide to begin the very process of pursuing permanent residence. Without access to resources in the native language of Applicants, it is ripe for individuals who purport to know what they are doing (ghost consultants and the like) to provide immigration services. Many of these services are substandard and ultimately illegally performed.

My major qualm with the Federal Government’s launch of an Express Entry Italian page is that I believe it is not good optics to have resources available in one language and not other languages. With something like the Express Entry Italian page I understand that it is not as simple as creating a page and paying interpreters to translate the resource into many languages. There are discussions that need to be had with consulates, even with domestic governments who do (particularly in the case of China, the country I am now in) the type of web resources available on sensitive issues such as immigration.

However, to provide a page in Italian that is not correspondingly available in Arabic, in Farsi, in Hindu, or in Mandarin suggests Canada is aiming its resources at immigrants from select countries rather than the most economically and socially desirable immigrants from around the world. Optically, I hope many more third-language resources are made available to explain an Express Entry system that frankly is counterintuitive and confusing for many overseas applicants.

A Day One Problem: Post-Graduate Work Permit to Permanent Resident

In December 2014, my colleague Steve Meurrens predicted that the introduction of Express Entry would have a devastating effect on the ability of international students to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada (see: http://canadianimmigrant.ca/slider/are-options-for-international-students-to-immigrate-permanently-narrowing).

It seems like Steve’s epiphanies have come true. Just this past month I have received no less than 5 inquiries from individuals on the last year of Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP) asking about how they can obtain Permanent Resident status.

The challenges are quite clear. Time spent working on PGWPs, while earning some Canadian experience points, do not earn any extra points that appear necessary to obtain an Invitation to Apply. Individuals with PGWPs will have to not only meet the requirements of the Canadian Experience Class or Federal Skilled Worker Programs (at least 1 year of NOC 0, A, B experience), but also likely need either a Provincial Nomination or a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

The Labour Market Impact Assessment, which used to allow for advertising breaks for Employers hiring PGWP holders, now requires a $1000 application fee in addition to the 1 in 4 likelihood of a compliance review. Such burdens are heavy for Canadian employers to bare, particularly when the international graduate is likely entering only a mid-level NOC B position. Furthermore, the advertising exemptions have been removed and Canadian Employers must demonstrate that the PGWP holder is more suitable than Canadian candidates who have many more years of relevant experience and often times higher educational credentials. It is also hard, to make a business case, to pay someone with little experience a prevailing wage that reflects a skilled labour market generally with more experience and demanding hire wages.

One of the biggest problems facing PGWP holders is actually on the front end. Many recent graduates are unable to obtain positions right out of university that are NOC 0, A, B. Many start in NOC C, D positions (often unaware) that there is a requirement to obtain a promotion in order to qualify for Express Entry. Couple this with the fact that options for Entry-Level/Semi-Skilled (EE/SS) workers to obtain Permanent Residence (at least in B.C.) is limited to the currently-closed B.C. Provincial Nomination Program for EE/SS workers.

The Importance of Employer Communication Re: PGWP Status

One of the challenges is that many employees are hesitant to get into the conversation with their employers about their immigration status for fear of job security and other issues. However, this conversation needs to happen and ideally happen at the front end. Unless, it is in an Applicant’s plan to return to their home country following work on a PGWP, continue further studies, or pursue another guaranteed NOC 0, A,B vacancy within two years, not discussing immigration status with an employer can be disastrous. Currently, Canada’s economic immigration programs are all employer driven. If you are to obtain permanent residence in the future an Employer needs to be there to support you – write you a confirmation of employment, make recruitment efforts, provide your paystubs and their own tax/corporate information. Most importantly, they have to put their neck on the line in representations to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Your pathway to permanent residence starts on Day 1. Your employment contract or at the very least, your unofficial understanding with the employer needs to involve your ability to be promoted to a NOC 0, A, B position so you can get at least 1 year of skilled-work experience.

You can check the skill level of your position using the NOC matrix available online. Note that the BC PNP uses the 2011 NOC Matrix (here), which ESDC uses the 2006 NOC Matrix (here) Make sure, however, to obtain proper advice as to the wording of your job duties. Several positions, particularly those designated by Canadian employers who are unfamiliar with the NOC or your requirements to have skilled employment, may inadvertently hire you to a purported “skilled position,” while giving you job duties more akin to a lower-skilled worker.  For example, one may assume that an administrative assistant (http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Profile.aspx?val=1&val1=1241) and an office support worker (http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/ProfileQuickSearch.aspx?val=1&val1=1411)  would both be considered under the same NOC Code given the similar nature of their duties, but an administrative assistant is a NOC B position (thus qualifying for Express Entry) while an Office Support Worker isn’t (NOC C low skilled position).

It is furthermore important to broach your Canadian employer because of the number of hybrid positions that are subject to classification under lower NOCs by ESDC. A great example of this is in the banking industry where a Customer Service Representative is a NOC C position (http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p3VD.pl?Function=getVD&TVD=122372&CVD=122376&CPV=6551&CST=01012011&CLV=4&MLV=4) but a Financial Service Representation is a NOC B position (http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Profile.aspx?val=6&val1=6235).

There is arguably a ton of overlap between the two positions and a ton of Customer Service Representatives I know who are gaining in seniority begin to take on some of the responsibilities of Financial Service Representatives. Complicating things, I know some banks call their Customer Service Representatives, Financial Service Representatives.

Another complicated matter are individuals who take on hybrid Account Manager (NOC B) and CSR (NOC C) roles. For immigration purposes, these type of positions will be under heavy scrutiny.

Know your Provincial Nomination Programs

Until the non-Express Entry British Columbia – International Graduates Program is announced in the beginning of July, the Express Entry version is a very good option for applicants (http://www.welcomebc.ca/Immigrate/About-the-BC-PNP/Express-Entry-British-Columbia/Express-Entry-British-Columbia-International-Gradu.aspx). Again, one of the challenges is the Applicant has to meet the basic requirements for one of three economic programs – which will require one year of NOC 0, A, B, either prior to coming to Canada and while holding a PGWP. As the International Graduates program requires you to apply within two years of completing your education program, this essentially gives you a two year window to get the requisite experience (assuming you don’t have it).

The International Graduates program is nice because there is no need for previous experience. The Applicant must only demonstrate that they have the means to support yourself and your dependents. For the Skilled Worker program, there is the requirement of several years of work experience, which is usually assumed to be two or more, creating a major time crunch for transitioning from a PGWP.

Regardless, it is important to keep up with the rapidly changing PNP program offerings. For example, on July 1st the BC PNP is reopening several programs, which I forsee may create more options for graduates of particular programs in professions that B.C. views in high demand (possibly LNG, Tech, and Medical fields).

I hope this article provided some insight into the challenges. As always contact me if you have any questions!

 

Express Entry Technical Amendment: You Can Get Scores for Non-Continuous Canadian Work Experience

Human Resources concept

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has made several technical amendments which came in force May 30, 2015. These amendments are a welcome clarification and should assist those applicants with several years of Canadian work experience. Ultimately, it may give several applicants a big Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score point boost!

Per CIC (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/mi/express-entry.asp) [emphasis added]:

DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION

Notice: A technical amendment has been made to sections 15, 19 and 25 of the Ministerial Instructions for the Express Entry Application Management System.

Paragraphs 15(3)(b) and 19(4)(b) were modified to remove the requirement that Canadian work experience be continuous for determining points under the Comprehensive Ranking System for the candidate, spouse or common-law partner.

For consistency and clarity, the Ministerial Instructions were also modified as follows:

  • The term “with one or more employers” was added to paragraphs 15(3)(b), 19(4)(b) and 25(1)(b);
  • The term “full-time employment” in subsections 15(5), 19(6) and 25(3) was replaced by “full-time work;”
  • Subsection 19(3) was repealed; and,
  • The word “emploi” in subsections 15(6), 19(7) and 25(4) and paragraphs 15(7)(a) and 19(8)(a) of the French version of the Ministerial Instructions was replaced by “travail.”

These Instructions come into force on May 30, 2015.

Note: As of May 30, 2015, all valid Canadian work experience will be recognized under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of Express Entry as CIC is removing the requirement that Canadian work experience be continuous. As a result, foreign nationals with Canadian work experience could see an increase in their CRS points.

You can see a specific effort by CIC to address the challenges particularly faced by the increasing number of contractors (explaining the change in definition from employment to work) as several were negatively impacted by the continuous work experience.

If I am not mistaken, the challenge with continuous work got to the point where program officers at the latest CBA National Immigration Law Conference in Ottawa were recommending that Counsel fill in the gaps of employment (much in the way we do 10 year work history attachments) with explanations. Again, whether this is acceptable practice is not readily clear from the way the electronic form is formatted.

Do note:

Continuous, skilled (NOC O, A, B) work experience of:

  • at least 1 year (Canadian work experience) in the last 3 years for the Canadian Experience Class;
  • and 1 year (can be Canadian or Foreign work experience) in the last 10 years for the Federal Skilled Worker Program;

are still front end requirements to qualify for Express Entry and are not affected by these technical amendments.