Canada Express Entry: Ten Misconceptions
Posted on December 28, 2014
The new selection system for immigration to Canada, Express Entry, is scheduled to come into operation on January 1, 2015 — just two weeks from today. Express Entry will change how Canadian immigration is managed by moving it from a supply-driven system to a demand-driven one and, as such, new practices will be put into place. This article aims to clarify some of the more common misconceptions that remain.
Misconception #1: Anybody can enter the Express Entry pool.
Truth: Candidates eligible to immigrate to Canada under a federal economic immigration program may enter the pool.
A common misconception regarding Express Entry is the mistaken belief that anybody who makes an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada may enter the Express Entry pool. This is not the case. A candidate must be eligible for one of Canada’s existing federal economic immigration programs in order to enter the pool. These programs are:
- The Federal Skilled Worker Program. Candidates eligible under this program must have work experience in a skilled occupation and reach a certain points threshold based on their human capital factors.
- The Federal Skilled Trades Program. Candidates eligible under this program must have two years of qualified work experience in a skilled trade in the last five years.
- The Canadian Experience Class. Candidates eligible under this program must have at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience in Canada within the last 36 months.
Misconception #2: You need a job offer to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry.
Truth: A job offer is not required, but it certainly won’t hurt.
There is a common misunderstanding that because Canadian employers will play a more direct role under Express Entry than they did previously, candidates will need a job offer in order to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry. This is not true.
Candidates in the Express Entry pool — all of whom are, remember, eligible for one of Canada’s federal economic immigration programs — will be ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Up to 1,200 points will be available for candidates, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will issue invitations to apply for permanent residence to candidates with the highest ranking. Given that 600 of these points will be allocated to candidates with either a provincial nomination certificate or a qualifying job offer of arranged employment from a Canadian employer, obtaining such an offer will give candidates an enormous boost in ranking and hugely increase their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.
There is no stipulation, however, that candidates are required to obtain a job offer in order to be issued an invitation to apply.
Misconception #3: Express Entry is the only way to immigrate to Canada as an economic immigrant.
Truth: Express Entry will facilitate the immigration of most economic migrants, but provinces will still be able to select a certain allocation of immigrants outside the Express Entry system.
Under Canada’s federal structure, the provinces and territories that make up the country have the advantage of being able to select a certain allocation of immigrants based on provincial labour market needs. While most economic immigrants to Canada will immigrate through Express Entry from January, 2015 — and a portion of provincial nominees will have their applications expedited through the Express Entry system — the provinces will still have their “base” Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), through which they may select immigrants who may not necessarily be eligible to enter the Express Entry pool.
In the case of Quebec, which is not participating in the federal Express Entry system, there will be a Skilled Worker stream and Quebec Experience program, both of which are scheduled to reopen on April 1, 2015.
Candidates should note that Express Entry will not be the only way to immigrate to Canada as an economic immigrant. Retaining the services of an experienced immigration lawyer who intimately knows the criteria of each PNP and the Quebec program may allow candidates, both those who are eligible to enter the Express Entry pool and those who are not, to maximize their chances of successfully immigrating to Canada.
Misconception #4: The eligible occupations list for the Federal Skilled Worker Program will continue under Express Entry.
Truth: There will be no eligible occupations list as of January 1, 2015.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has confirmed that, as of January 1, 2015, eligibility for the FSWP will not include a list of eligible occupations. Instead, candidates will have to demonstrate that they have worked at least one year in a skilled occupation within the past 10 years. This is likely to open up eligibility to a greater number of candidates than is the case now. Jobs in Canada are classified by what are called National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes, which are divided by skill level and skill type. You can find out whether your occupation is skilled using the CanadaVisa Skilled Occupation Classifier on the CRS Calculator.
Similarly, the current list of ineligible occupations under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) will not be in place under Express Entry.
Misconception #5: Sitting and passing a language test will not be required in order to enter the Express Entry pool.
Truth: Candidates must have passed a standardised language test recognised by the government of Canada in either English or French before they may enter the pool.
CIC has confirmed that candidates will have to demonstrate proficiency in an official language of Canada, either English or French, in order to enter the Express Entry pool. Language ability is determined by the candidate sitting a standardised language test, the most common of which are the IELTS or CELPIP for English and TEF for French. Candidates will not be able to enter the Express Entry pool without submitting language test results that meet the eligibility requirements for one of the federal economic immigration programs.
Eligible candidates wishing to enter the Express Entry pool as early as possible are encouraged to take a language test as a priority. Given that CIC has stated that its job matching software with employers is unlikely to be in place until at least April, 2015, there may be certain advantages for eligible candidates who don’t already have a job offer to enter the pool at an early stage, as they may be invited to apply when the first draws are made. Such candidates should also take note of the language testing requirement if they want to take advantage of being able to enter the pool as early as possible.
Misconception #6: When a candidate is issued an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, he or she is likely to have enough time to begin gathering supporting documents and submit an application in time.
Truth: Candidates who only begin to gather supporting documents after being issued an invitation to apply may struggle to submit a complete application within the 60-day deadline.
Putting together a complete application that satisfies the demands set by CIC is not a simple task. It requires, among other things, the gathering of many personal documents relating to family and civil status, education credentials, and work reference letters, as well as the accurate completion of detailed forms. Consequently, candidates who only begin to gather these documents afterhaving been issued an invitation to apply for permanent residence may find it difficult to submit a complete and accurate application within 60 days.
Eligible candidates are encouraged to enter the Express Entry pool with the mindset that they may, at any moment, be issued an invitation to apply. Accordingly, gathering and preparing documents for submission before being issued an invitation to apply is a prudent exercise.
Misconception #7: Candidates will know for certain how many points they will need under theComprehensive Ranking System in order to be issued an invitation to apply.
Truth: Candidates will know their Comprehensive Ranking System points total and the government of Canada has said that candidates will know what the points threshold was for the most recent draw. However, candidates will not know their specific ranking nor how many points may be required for the next draw.
The Comprehensive Ranking System will be CIC’s method of ranking eligible candidates in the Express Entry pool. There is a misconception that candidates will know how many points will be required for the next draw from the Express Entry pool, when in fact CIC has stated that it plans to release such information about draws that will have already taken place (that is to say, the information will be retrospective). This may help candidates by giving them a figure they can aim to surpass, but will not provide them with any guarantee that they will be issued an invitation to apply if they reach that figure. Conversely, the next draw may see candidates with a lower ranking receive an invitation to apply.
Misconception #8: Once an Express Entry profile has been created, it cannot be changed, regardless of whether a candidate improves his or her points.
Truth: Candidates can update their profiles while in the Express Entry pool.
Not only will candidates be able to update their profiles, they are actively encouraged to do so. The Comprehensive Ranking System will be a fluid system, with eligible candidates entering constantly and successful candidates leaving once they have submitted an application. Candidates can improve their ranking by improving their core human capital factors (for example, by improving their language abilities, gaining work experience, or completing an education program) or receiving a valid job offer from a Canadian employer or a provincial nomination. Candidates’ profiles will not be “locked” at any stage during the one year for which their profiles remain in the pool. Indeed, profiles and ranking are subject to change.
Misconception #9: Candidates can enter the Express Entry pool by giving false information and, if subsequently issued an invitation to apply, immigrate to Canada.
Truth: Misrepresentation will be caught and will carry stern penalties.
Given that the information provided by a potential candidate when he or she makes an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada is self-declared, some candidates may be tempted to provide some elements of false information in order to appear eligible to enter the Express Entry pool. Such candidates might be hoping that they either attain those human capital credentials before they are issued an invitation to apply, or they might be hoping that false information will not be detected.
In both cases, the falsehood(s) supplied by the candidate during the initial stages of the process will be caught and will carry penalties. The government of Canada has recently introduced new measures that aim to ensure the integrity of its immigration programs and processes. Among these measures are more severe penalties for misrepresentation than were previously in place, with the penalty for misrepresentation increasing from a two- to a five-year period of inadmissibility, as well as a five-year ban on applying for permanent resident status. Candidates who are found to have given false information during any stage of the Express Entry process, including step one, will be subject to these new penalties.
Misconception #10: Express Entry will be a seamless, easy process.
Truth: The government of Canada is reviewing applications more rigorously than ever, and candidates will have to provide a lot of supporting documentation that meets the standards set by CIC.
Immigrating to a foreign country with a strong economy, diverse culture and proud history such as Canada is a desire for millions of people from around the world. Governments of Canada down the years and decades have realised that having a steady intake of immigrants is a win-win for both the newcomers and the country, which benefits from a diverse, skilled labour market.
While Canada has generous immigration programs, it also ensures that applications are thoroughly reviewed. After an application is made, there can be a lengthy processing period under the current immigration system. There has been a misconception among some potential candidates that because CIC will aim to process Express Entry applications within six months, applications will not receive as much scrutiny as they have until this point. This logic is flawed. If anything, due to the fact that CIC will be in control of the supply of applications it will be processing, it is more likely that applications will receive greater scrutiny than before.
In short, candidates will benefit from shorter processing times, but their applications should be prepared and presented meticulously.