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Since May 2019, candidates under Canada’s Express Entry system have tended to need a Comprehensive Ranking Score above 460 points to obtain an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. In recent months, this has climbed even further to around 470 or higher.
Up until then, the Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) cut-offs hovered between 430 and 450 points for the better part of two years. The higher CRS cut-off is due to the fact that more candidates are receiving additional CRS points for criteria such as having Canadian experience (as former international students and temporary foreign workers) and obtaining a provincial nomination certificate.
Despite the higher cut-offs, there are four reasons why those interested in building a life in Canada should enter the Express Entry pool even if they currently do not have a CRS above 460.
First, it is not possible to predict CRS cut-offs. By submitting an Express Entry application candidates give themselves a chance to receive an ITA in the event that the federal government reduces the CRS cut-off.
Second, through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), provinces and territories can nominate immigration candidates who have submitted Express Entry applications (known as “enhanced” nominations). In practice, this means that candidates who fall short of the federal CRS cut-off may still obtain an ITA for permanent residence if they receive a nomination from a province or territory.
Third, candidates can work on improving their CRS score after they submit their Express Entry application. They can take steps to improve their English and/or French language proficiency, obtain more work experience, pursue education or work experience in Canada, and seek to obtain a Canadian job offer or provincial nomination.
Fourth, immigration candidates should look beyond Express Entry by taking note of the fact that Canada now offers more economic class immigration pathways than at any time in its history. Express Entry is an important component of Canada’s immigration system, accounting for 42 per cent of the country’s economic class admissions.
On the other hand, Express Entry only manages three of the country’s economic class pathways: The Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class Program.
This means that more than 80 additional economic class pathways are available to those interested in moving to Canada.
Prior to the launch of the PNP in 1999, the federal government selected approximately 90 per cent of Canada’s economic class immigrants each year.
The majority of immigrants arrived under the Federal Skilled Worker Program that has existed since 1967, while the rest arrived under the federal Entrepreneur Program (introduced in 1978 and closed in 2014), the federal Self-Employed Program (introduced in 1978) and the federal Immigrant Investor Program (introduced in 1986 and closed in 2014).
The remaining 10 per cent of Canada’s economic class immigrants were selected by Quebec, through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, and the province’s own entrepreneur, self-employed, and investor programs—all four of which were launched in the 1970s and 1980s and exist to this day.
In the late 1990s, smaller Canadian provinces began to select (“nominate”) economic class immigrants through the PNP.
The PNP was introduced because smaller provinces had struggled historically to attract immigrants under federal economic class programs. Their low immigrant intakes hurt their ability to promote economic development due to low birth rates, their ageing populations, and the high rates of people from their province moving to larger provinces where they could find more economic opportunities.
The PNP has been effective in encouraging more immigrants to go to Canada’s smaller provinces and territories. Today, each province and territory operates its own PNP streams (except for the territory of Nunavut, which chooses not to manage the PNP, and the province of Quebec which has operated its own immigration system since 1978 because of its special status within Canada).
A key sign of the PNP’s success is that the national newcomer shares of Canada’s three largest provinces—Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia—has fallen from 85 per cent prior to the PNP’s existence to about 70 per cent today.
The federal government and every province and territory have gone a major step forward since the late 1990s by introducing dozens of additional economic class pathways, thereby giving prospective immigration candidates many more choices.
The federal government has since introduced the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class Program, as well as a host of pilot programs such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.
The provinces and territories have themselves launched many unique streams with the same rationale as the federal government: by operating dozens of different pathways, Canada will cater to a bigger pool of potential immigrants who can bring a variety of skills that contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.
This underscores the fact that the broad selection criteria of Canada’s various economic class programs create many opportunities for immigration candidates, as long as they meet the general parameters of federal and provincial age, education, language proficiency and work experience requirements.
In 2020, Canada is looking to welcome 110,000 economic class immigrants through its more than 80 programs, plus an additional 86,000 through its three Express Entry programs.
This is all to say, candidates should actually feel more encouraged about applying for immigration to Canada.
Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at Canadavisa.
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