It may become known as The Saturday Morning Surprise.
At first, I saw a website article stating that approximately 27,300 foreign nationals with Canadian experience received an invitation on February 13 to apply for permanent residence through the latest Express Entry draw.
Not only was the number astounding, but also the cut-off score. For more than the past year, the cut-off score for Canadian Experience Class has been in the 470-point range, meaning that unless you were young, possessed a university degree from your home country as well as a diploma or degree from Canada, had two, preferably three years of Canadian work experience, and your English skills were at the Canadian Language Benchmark 9 level or higher, you didn’t have a chance of qualifying.
That all changed Saturday morning, when the lowest score receiving an invitation to apply was 75. It didn’t take long for my email inbox to start pinging. Mostly it was fellow immigration consultants, incredulous at the news, but also some sharp-eyed clients who saw what I saw on the internet.
Later in the day Saturday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirmed the facts by issuing a news release.
“With travel restrictions limiting who can come to Canada, IRCC is pioneering new ways to engage those who are already here and hard at work,” the release said, “Their status may be temporary, but their contributions are lasting—and we’re hoping to help more of them stay permanently.”
The release said the high number of invitations will bolster Canada’s economic recovery. Those invited have at least one year of Canadian work experience, are contributing to the economy, and paying taxes.
This is a potential game-changer for foreign nationals now working with a post-graduation work permit. I qualified the statement with the word “potential” because it is not known if this is a new trend or a one-off draw to jump-start the immigration numbers.
If it is indeed a new trend, those with post-graduation work permits in Canada now may need only one year of Canadian work experience before being invited to apply for permanent residence. They could be a bit older than the previous norm. They could have Canadian Language Benchmark 7, 6, or 5 scores, instead of CLB 9.
It is easy to see why this happened. Immigration numbers for 2020 were well below government targets due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. To make up for the shortfall the government announced targets of 401,000 permanent residents for 2021 and 421,000 for 2022. The Saturday Morning Surprise was the first step in attempting to meet the 2021 target.
In the past, those with lower point totals have been discouraged from creating a free online Express Entry profile because they didn’t feel they had the points to compete. Now, I will be telling everyone with a year of Canadian work experience to complete an online profile.
They still have hoops to jump through. If they don’t have an official English or French test result that is less than two-years-old and puts them at the minimum CLB level, the Artificial Intelligence system will bump them out.
Once completed, their Express Entry profile will be active for 12 months. If they did not receive an invitation to apply during that time, the system will delete their profiles. But, they can go right ahead and file a new profile to get back in the system.
The Canadian Experience Class of immigration was launched in 2008. To qualify, the applicant has to have at least 12 months of work experience in Canada during the past three years and that work had to be in skill type 0 (managerial level), skill level A (normally requiring a university degree), or skill level B (normally requiring a college diploma.)
For skill type 0 and skill level A they have to have at least CLB 7 in all four test areas—speaking, listening, reading, and writing. For Skill level B they need CLB 5.
Therefore, it’s not a wide-open free-for-all. Minimum standards have to be met.
And it’s not over once an invitation to apply has been received. That’s just the beginning of the process. Those with an invitation have 90 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence. During the assessment process initially designed to take six months, hence the term Express Entry, but now taking nine months or more, they have to have documents to prove their qualifications and pass admissibility screening and health exams.
Still, the Saturday Morning Surprise is good news. Here is more from Saturday’s news release.
“From large companies to major labour unions, Canadians agree that immigration is essential to our economy. One in three businesses with employees is owned by an immigrant, creating thousands of jobs from construction to retail. Throughout the pandemic, newcomers have played an outsized role in Canada’s response, accounting for more than one-third of our doctors and pharmacists. Put simply, immigration is crucial to Canada’s short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”
Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay.