The year that was 2015 has been a transitional one with respect to Canadian economic immigration programs. Beginning with the launch of the Express Entry selection system on January 1, 2015, and with a newly-installed government that promises to deliver more for future and existing candidates for immigration to Canada, it has been a year with much change in the air.
2016 looks set to continue in the same manner, and the prospects for Express Entry candidates in particular appear positive.
What’s in store for 2016?
During a webinar hosted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on December 16, 2015, a CIC Policy Analyst made some important announcements regarding the short- and medium-term future of Express Entry:
“The number of invitations issued per round is expected to increase as the pre-Express Entry inventory of applications is finalised. In turn, it is expected that the minimum score of those that are invited to apply will drop,” she stated.
Moreover, while answering a question about international students in Canada, the Policy Analyst added that:
“We [CIC] are not currently planning on changing the points for international students. We are monitoring how international students are doing in the system, and we expect that in the new year when our rounds start growing — to meet our new levels plan — that the score will reduce and that international students will continue to do well at that time.”
These pronouncements follow similar ones made by CIC at the Annual Immigration Law Summit, which was held in November. Click here to learn more about comments from CIC at the Immigration Law Summit.
About the Invitation to Apply (ITA)
For many candidates throughout 2015, the primary goal has been to get in the Express Entry pool and increase their ranking within the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Without being in the pool, individuals are effectively invisible to CIC when a draw is made. Candidates who receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) have only 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence.
A number of candidates so far have had to decline at least one ITA. This reality was borne out when CIC released its mid-year Express Entry report, and such situations are part of everyday discussion on the Canada Immigration Forum. With no guarantee that re-entering the pool will result in another ITA being issued at a later draw, declining an ITA typically entails a degree of risk.
With the latest news and announcements from CIC revealing that the number of candidates drawn in each draw will soon increase and, with the consequence that the CRS point requirement is set to continue to decrease, individuals interested in immigrating to Canada are increasingly looking towards the ITA and asking ‘what happens next?’
What happens when you receive an ITA?
If a candidate has the required number of CRS points in order to be invited to apply when CIC performs a draw from the Express Entry pool, he or she should expect to receive an ITA within 24 hours. The ITA is a letter that arrives in the messages section of the CIC profile.
There are, in effect, two mini-stages between receiving an ITA and submitting an application: completing the forms, and uploading documents. While some candidates in the pool may think that a full document checklist will be sent along with the ITA, in reality this is not the case. Each form must be completed in its entirety before a unique document checklist is formulated.
Completing the forms
A single applicant who has received an ITA is presented with seven new forms in his or her profile. These forms are used by CIC to substantiate the information provided when the applicant first created the profile, as well as to learn new information about the applicant and his or her family members, if applicable.
The seven forms are titled: Personal Details, Contact Details, Study and Languages, Application Details, Representative, Work History, Personal History, and Travel History. Each form has a number of sections within it.
An applicant with an accompanying spouse (or common-law partner) and/or dependant children will also be asked to complete sections for these individuals. For each dependant child, the Personal Details and Study and Languages forms need to be completed. For a spouse or common-law partner, additional Personal Details, Contact Details, Study and Languages, Personal History, and Work History forms need to be completed.
While some sections of the forms are straightforward, others can prove to be problematic. Attention to detail and thorough revision of every piece of information is key. When CICNews spoke a few months ago with Emma Hughes, the first person ever to obtain Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry, she had some candid advice:
“A lot of it is about having all the information gathered together and being able to submit it quickly. I had all my information and documents to hand and was able to submit an application quickly. For example, they ask you where you have lived for the past 10 years and it needs to be exact, and you can’t just pull that out of nowhere.”
In addition to providing an address history, all applicants are also required to provide a detailed travel history and work history timeline.
“As Emma Hughes rightly points out, you can’t just pull the correct answers and solutions out of nowhere,” says Attorney David Cohen. ”Moreover, certain issues may arise for some applicants, who would be well advised to prepare in advance for these eventualities. For example, applicants with any previous marriages, additional or prior names, a chequered immigration history, or a history of personal activities that may need further elaboration or support may find that they are concerned about how to complete the forms and provide additional supporting documentation, all the while mindful that they have only 60 days to submit everything.
“Another common concern comes with the Work History form. Just this week CICNews interviewed a man from England who told us about the disappointment he felt when his employer had made an error on an application to CIC. The employer had included the wrong National Occupational Classification code on a form, and the foreign worker had to get legal advice in order to resolve the issue.”
CRS score requirement goes down in latest Express Entry draw
The 22nd and most recent Express Entry draw took place on December 4, 2015. The CRS point requirement for this draw was 461, representing an 11-point decrease from the previous draw.
The CRS point requirement has decreased for each of the four Express Entry draws that have taken place since October 23, from 489 to 484, then to 472, before the latest cut-off point of 461. The lowest CRS point requirement of any draw so far was 450.
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