What is the change? Canada launched Express Entry Jan. 1. The new online system manages applications for permanent residence under four economic immigration programs: Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs. It does not affect applications for temporary foreign workers.

What does the change mean? Express Entry changes processing for the four economic immigration programs listed above.

  • Implementation timeframe: The program was implemented Jan. 1 at noon EST.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent residence visas in the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs.
  • Who is affected: Permanent residence applicants and employers intending either to hire permanent resident applicants or support permanent residence applications for current temporary foreign workers.
  • Impact on processing times: Under Express Entry, applicants must be invited to apply for permanent residence. Once they have received an invitation, applicants have 60 days to submit an application. Applications then take up to six months to process. The Express Entry process for employers could also involve applying for a permanent Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or provincial or territorial nomination. Applicants will have to complete a language test and, in some cases, will have to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment – all of which will increase the time it will take before an invitation to apply is issued.
  • Business impact: The program is intended to better serve the labor needs of Canadian employers, and improved processing times should reduce the costs associated with long wait times.
  • Next steps: Applicants can now complete and submit their online profiles and await a possible invitation to apply for permanent residence. The first draw for applicant invites is scheduled for later this month.

Background: Express Entry was announced in 2014 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Those hoping to apply for permanent residence under one of the above-mentioned economic programs can now complete their online profiles.

Applicants who meet the criteria of one of the four economic programs will be accepted into a pool of candidates. They will be ranked against other applicants based on the number of points they receive for four core human capital factors: age, education, language ability and work experience. They will receive additional points if they have a qualifying job offer. Those with the highest scores will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Although it is not an absolute requirement, applicants who have a qualifying job offer are much more likely to receive an invitation to apply. An employer who wishes to make a qualifying job offer to a current temporary foreign worker who does not currently hold a valid LMIA or LMO-based work permit will have to advertise the position and apply for a permanent LMIA or a provincial or territorial nomination. Both of these processes involve a significant amount of time, effort and expense on the part of employers. The LMIA process is complex, and there are no guarantees of a positive outcome.

Language ability and education may also play an important role when determining who is invited to apply. In order to score core human capital factor points, candidates will need to complete an English or French language test. In some cases they will need to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment. Such an assessment can boost an applicant’s chance of receiving an invitation even if it is not strictly required for the economic immigration program for which he or she qualifies.

The online profiles remain valid for one year. Draws will be held to determine who can apply for permanent residence, with the first draw scheduled for later this month. If an applicant is not invited to apply for residence within a year of submitting his or her online profile, the applicant must update and re-submit his or her profile.

BAL Analysis: Express Entry was designed to expedite permanent residency and match highly skilled employees with employers. However, there will be greater uncertainly in some cases, and the process of supporting an application for permanent residence may be more onerous. It is important for employers to understand how the program works to best take advantage of it. Contact your local BAL attorney with any questions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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