Express Entry to Canada: Helping employers connect with skilled immigrants
BURLINGTON, Ont. – Last month, The Centre for Skills Development & Training (The Centre) hosted a free event on the “Express Entry Immigration Program”.
Keynote speaker Robert W. Young, a partner at Eisenberg & Young LLP* explained the Express Entry program which prioritizes applications from skilled economic migrants to meet the needs of employers unable to find Canadian or permanent residents to fill job vacancies.
Under the new system, candidates in the economic streams are pooled with other applicants for initial assessment. Each candidate is graded on specific factors and then given a score out of 1,200 according to Canada’s Ranking System formula.
Up to 600 points are allotted to applicants with a job offer or a sponsorship under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or have a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA,) which shows the need to hire a foreign worker. Up to 500 points are assigned for factors such as age, education level, language proficiency and work experience in Canada and up to 100 points for transferable skills such as foreign work experience and a certificate in the trades.
Every three weeks, a cut-off score is chosen by Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) and those who are above that score receive invitations to apply to become permanent residents in Canada.
CIC anticipates that there will be between 15 and 25 of these rounds this year. Candidates with a Canadian employment offer, or those nominated by a provincial government have a distinct advantage due to the way the criteria is weighted.
Young described the Express Entry program as adding further complexity to the immigration process, citing that from the user perspective, “It’s an extremely confusing system.”
Applicants may stay in a pool of potential candidates for up to one year, with draws for successful applicants occurring throughout the year. There have been eight draws since January, resulting in approximately 8,500 invitations being issued.
Young emphasized that applicants receiving an invitation have the right to apply within 60 days to file a complete application for permanent residence under one of four economic class categories – PNP, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Workers and Federal Skilled Trades.
“All the information needs to be up-to-date, including a language test, credentials and proof of employment. An employer can update an applicant’s information and should do so as soon as it changes since the slightest mistake can result in the application being thrown out.”
Young stated that in the beginning, the lowest scores for successful applicants under the Express Entry system were from 800 to 900 points. In subsequent draws, however, the lowest scores were under 500 and the number of candidates invited to apply increased. According to Young, this meant people were being accepted without an LMIA.
“Even though you want to get an LMIA, the majority of applications are rejected,” asserted Young. “The problem is that without an LMIA, candidates have to put themselves on [the federal government’s] Job Bank, which is very unresponsive.”
If an LMIA is being used to support an Express Entry application, an employer must offer a permanent, non-seasonal, full-time job to the foreign applicant. The employer must advertise a job for four weeks for a Canadian to fill it before submitting the LMIA application and must continue to advertise for a Canadian until they receive an answer to the LMIA. According to Young, the cost of advertising can be significant.
“The employer must advertise in three places – the Job Bank, a countrywide website such as Workopolis and one other site or advertising media excluding ones like Kijiji and Facebook.”
Additionally, there is a distinction between “high-skilled” and “low-skilled” LMIA streams. Young said that the emphasis is on getting high-skilled applicants and that there is a restriction on the number of low-skilled LMIAs granted to a particular employer. If the median wage for an occupation falls below a figure selected by Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC), the occupation is deemed to be low-skilled.
Young stated that pay rates must be advertised as the same or above the median rate set out in ESDC’s “Working in Canada – Wages Report.” The employer must keep all records of the search, all employment and pay records for the foreign employee and for similarly situated Canadian employees for at least six years from the time a foreign employee worked under the LMIA-supported work permit. The foreign employee’s wages cannot be altered from that described in the LMIA application and the employer may be subject to an unannounced search without a warrant from ESDC and/or CIC.
Employers hiring LMIA-exempt workers must pay a $230 fee and register the job offer with CIC before they may apply for a work permit. As well, some applicants for LMIA-exempt open work permits – permits that are not job specific – must pay $100 plus the standard $155 fee for a work permit.
This article summarizes the speech of Robert Young to the audience of The Centre for Skills Development & Training on “Express Entry to Canada”. Information in this article is not to be considered as an alternative to legal advice. Questions about citizenship and/or immigration matters should be directed to a qualified professional.
*Robert W. Young, B.A., LLB, C.S., is a certified specialist in Citizenship & Immigration Law: Immigration/Refugee Protection at Eisenberg and Young LLP. Contact: email@example.com