OPINION: IRCC Should Prioritize Work-Permit Holding Self-Employed/Contractors Seeking PR via Express Entry
As the debate goes on over whether the changes to Express Entry allowing for the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to tweak invitations and draws to target specific occupations or groups, I have a suggestion in the case it does go that way.
The current system of Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”) and Federal Skilled Worker (“FSW”) (and how the points are divided up) is at odds with the way the economy and workforce is going – around the issue of self-employment/contract work. Anecdotally (I do not yet have stats on this), individuals are now more interested in the gig economy, the ability to pursue multiple opportunities, of working virtually. Many of these types of opportunities are provided a contractor/self-employed basis.
Canada’s much-maligned self-employed program is both limited in scope (with a focus on athletics, arts, music requiring a certain level of cultural activity/world class performance and farmers) and in the excessive processing delays and lack of regulation to ensure carry-through of successful applicants. Spots are few and those clients of mine who have gone through the program recently have taken many years of precarious status to get to the finish line.
What I have seen a trend in at my offices over the pandemic and into this post-pandemic, are individuals who are self-employed/contractors in Canada – many either doing work that does not meet the requirements of the self-employed program but in other areas of research (on grants) or contractual work (as entrepreneurs and small businesses owners) who are excluded from the CEC. While their work counts towards the FSW, because their work does not count towards the Canadian Work Experience points, they often fall short of the draws.
If IRCC does choose this model of micro-managing and selecting occupations and subgroups, perhaps one group that could get early attention would be these individuals. They would not be hard to find in the system. Ask that applicants update their profile to also include self-employed/contractual history in Express Entry, and to put it in the work history section (rather than just in personal history). Based on these submissions, scoop a portion of them through an FSW draw specifically aimed at those who have Canadian contractual/self-employment experience in the past three years.
I really hope we shed light on this group. Among a recent consultation I had was with a PhD researcher who as been in Canada since high school, but because they are performing their work (equivalent to full-time hours) on a grant rather than as an employee they cannot get the extra points to be selected as current Comprehensive Ranking Score (“CRS”) thresholds. Because they are older (having chosen to go the PhD route), they lose points for language. An individual like this is forced by our Economic immigration options to abandon the research they are doing – which significantly benefits Canada – in order to likely hold a survival skilled employment position for a year, only to return back after becoming a PR. This defies logic and does not support our overall goal. Employers, I can even draw an example of my own legal industry, increasing are relying on contractual arrangements to keep doors open and indeed, the flexibility of choosing hours and balancing hybridity (not to mention the potential tax benefits for contractors/self-employed individuals) make these models also attractive for those we contract with.
I hope we shed light on how we are falling short and find solutions to help this important subset of migrants seeking permanency and support in Canada.