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As of June 6, 2017, candidates in the Express Entry pool who have a sibling in Canada may obtain additional points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Another change involves additional points being awarded to candidates with proven French ability. These improvements to Express Entry are the latest to come from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), with a more dynamic Express Entry system now the main driver of economic immigration to Canada.
In addition to the changes to the CRS, registration in the Canada Job Bank is no longer mandatory for candidates without a qualifying job offer or a provincial nomination, though candidates may still choose to enter the Job Bank and pursue employment opportunities via this free service.
These changes, first announced in March but only introduced this week, are not as wide-ranging as the improvements that were made to the system last November. In that reform, IRCC changed the number of CRS points awarded for a qualifying job offer from 600 to 50 or 200 points, depending on the position offered. At the same time, candidates who had completed a study program in Canada were awarded additional points for the first time.
In contrast to the changes introduced last November, no candidates will see a reduction in their CRS points total as a direct result of the changes introduced on June 6. Many candidates will retain their existing score, while some candidates — specifically, those with a sibling in Canada and/or proven French ability — may obtain a boost in their score.
While each CRS point can be valuable to a candidate, it is worth noting that some of the other additional factors that currently exist are worth significantly more points than the new factors being introduced. Candidates with a sibling in Canada may obtain 15 additional points, and candidates with French ability may obtain either 15 or 30 points, while candidates with a qualifying job offer obtain either 50 or 200 points and candidates with a provincial nomination obtain 600 points. The latter factor is the single most valuable factor in the system.
Speaking about these improvements to the system, Canada’s Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen stated that “Economic immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system attract highly talented and skilled immigrants that businesses need to help grow and strengthen our economy.
“As the improvements are implemented, I’m pleased that Canada will welcome more skilled immigrants with siblings in Canada who can help them quickly integrate into their new life here, and that we’ll continue to see Francophone minority communities flourish.”
The CRS is a dynamic system, and though many candidates will not be directly affected by the latest changes, the introduction of new additional factors as of June 6 will shift the make-up of the pool to some degree. In that sense, the changes affect more than just those candidates who obtained additional points, as even candidates who did not see a change in their score may experience a change in their ranking.
According to IRCC, ‘having a sibling in Canada has been shown to improve health and social outcomes by accelerating a newcomer’s integration into their new life in Canada.’
Candidates in the Express Entry pool with a sibling in Canada may be awarded 15 additional CRS points if the sibling is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years of age. Up to 15 points only may be awarded for this factor; that is to say, candidates with more than one sibling in Canada will be awarded 15 points in total, not 15 points per sibling.
These points may also be awarded if the candidate’s spouse or common-law partner has a sibling in Canada. The candidate or his or her spouse/common-law partner must share a mother and/or father with the sibling in Canada. This relationship can be through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership.
Individuals who wish to enter the Express Entry pool must first take a language test recognized by the government of Canada in English and/or French — this has always been the case. Of the 1,200 points available in total under the CRS, 136 points may be awarded for a candidate’s ability in a first language, with a further 24 available for ability in a second language. Up to 100 more points are available for a candidate’s language skills within the combination (skills transferability) factors.
However, as of June 6 candidates with French ability are able to obtain even more points. A total of 15 additional points will be awarded to candidates who prove adequate intermediate (equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark, or CLB, 7) or better French ability, and English ability of CLB 4 or lower (or no proven English ability at all). Candidates who prove adequate intermediate or better French ability, and who also prove English ability of CLB 5 or better, may obtain 30 additional points.
Currently, there are other ways in which candidates may benefit from their French ability. For example, the province of Ontario has an Express Entry-aligned French Speaking Skilled Worker Stream within the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), for which a CLB of 7 in French and a CLB of 6 in English is required.
Candidates who wish to be awarded points for French ability must take the Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF).
The latest changes to Express Entry form part of IRCC’s continued efforts to invite more candidates to apply based on their human capital, skills, and experience. As the table below shows, it is not only the CRS that has been altered since last November, but also other aspects of Express Entry, such as the Invitation to Apply (ITA) and job offer requirements.
Table 1: Changes implemented as of Nov 19, 2016
|Change||New system||Previous system|
|Points awarded for a job offer within NOC major group 00||200 CRS points||600 CRS points|
|Points awarded for any other skilled job offer||50 CRS points||600 CRS points|
|Candidates eligible for points for a job offer||LMIA not required for certain workers in Canada||LMIA was required for points to be awarded|
|Job offer duration requirement||At least one year||Indeterminate|
|1- or 2-year post-secondary education credential in Canada||15 CRS points||No additional points awarded|
|3-year credential/Master’s/Entry-to-practice professional degree/PhD in Canada||30 CRS points||No additional points awarded|
|Validity period of Invitation to Apply||90 days||60 days|
Table 2: Changes implemented as of June 6, 2017
|Change||New system||Previous system|
|Points awarded for principal applicant or spouse/common-law partner having a sibling in Canada||15 CRS points||No additional points awarded|
|French CLB 7 or better + English CLB 4 or below (or no proven English ability)||15 CRS points||No additional points awarded|
|French CLB 7 or better + English CLB 5 or better||30 CRS points||No additional points awarded|
|Job Bank registration||Voluntary||Mandatory for candidates without a job offer|
These changes come at a time when more candidates are being invited to apply for permanent residence than ever before. At the time of writing, a total of 47,876 ITAs have been issued so far this year, far surpassing the 33,782 issued over the whole of 2016. This increase in ITAs, together with the effect of the improvements introduced seven months ago, has meant that the CRS cut-off threshold in Express Entry draws has been steadily decreasing.
Interestingly, a Senior Policy Analyst at IRCC recently commented at a Canadian Immigration Summit in Ottawa that since the initial improvements were introduced last November, a larger number of candidates under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) have been invited to apply than was previously the case. Moreover, the IRCC analyst added that a larger share of these candidates were, or are, residing in a country other than Canada at the time they were invited. Unless a candidate qualifies as a skilled tradesperson or has at least a year of work experience in Canada, he or she must be eligible for the FSWC in order to be in the pool.
“The improvements introduced last November helped IRCC to invite a wider range and diversity of candidates, and the Express Entry pool is now the main source of permanent residence applications in the economic category of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan,” notes Attorney David Cohen.
“Those improvements, such as to the job offer points and requirements, were more fundamental, whereas the latest improvements are less so. No candidate will lose points as a result of these latest changes. The upshot is that Express Entry remains unpredictable and IRCC is flexing its muscles to ensure that a wide variety of individuals and families get the opportunity to make Canada their new permanent home. The first step is to create an accurate, up-to-date profile — only then may they be able to get that all-important Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.”
Candidates in the Express Entry pool, as well as individuals thinking of creating an Express Entry profile, can use the new and improved CRS Calculator to find out their score would be under the newly revised CRS points system.
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