What is the change? Canada conducted its 13th draw last week for its points-based Express Entry program, inviting 1,581 people to apply for permanent residence. The minimum score of those invited to apply in the July 17 draw reached a new low of 451 points.

What does the change mean? An increasing number of applicants are receiving Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence even without an LMIA-based job offer or provincial nomination. At least some of the ITAs issued in eight of the past nine draws have gone to applicants without job offers or nominations. Minimum scores have dropped from a high of 886 in the first draw to 451 in the most recent draw.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent residency through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals seeking permanent residency through one of the four skilled labor programs.
  • Business impact: The results of the draws conducted over the past two months are good news for employers.
  • Next steps: Foreign workers selected to apply for permanent residence have up to 60 days to complete the application. Those who want to be considered for permanent residence under Express Entry may create an Express Entry online profile.

Background: Canada’s Express Entry system uses a 1,200-point scale to rank applicants based on factors such as education, skills, and language abilities. Candidates with an LMIA-based job offer or provincial nomination are awarded 600 points.

While the minimum scores for those issued ITAs was well above the 600 mark in each of the first four draws, in eight of the subsequent nine draws the minimum score was in the mid- to high-400s. This means that a number of those who have been given ITAs have been selected without an LMIA-based job offer or provincial nomination.

Date ITAs Issued Minimum Score
Jan. 31 779 886
Feb. 7 779 818
Feb. 20 849 808
Feb. 27 1,187 735
March 20 1,620 481
March 27 1,637 453
April 10 925 469
April 17 715 453
May 22 1,361 755
June 12 1,501 482
June 26 1,575 469
July 10 1,516 463
July 17 1,581 451

The number of ITAs issued has topped 1,500 in each of the past four draws. Still, Canada has issued just 16,025 ITAs since the Express Entry began. This amount seems low considering that Canada expected to accept as many as 285,000 new permanent residents in 2015, with economic immigrants making up nearly 65 percent of that total.

BAL Analysis: The minimum number of points an applicant must have to be issued an ITA is on a clear downward trend, a sign that employers are not required to go through the LMIA process in order to sponsor a foreign worker for permanent residence. Despite this trend, BAL recommends that, if possible, employers obtain an LMIA or provincial nomination for workers they intend to sponsor because of the significant advantages for those workers in an unpredictable system.

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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