It was almost a year ago when Canada adopted a new immigration policy, changing the way migration aspirants looked at the once so accessible immigration destination.
Whereas there used to be a large variety of programmes suiting the different profiles of each applicant, there was now one system through which anybody would have to apply, and where a minimum number of points had to be collected in order to be invited for application.
The Express Entry system did not become the only opportunity, and provincial programmes came forward with their various routes, aligned or not with the federal system. In the meantime, sponsorship of spouse remained an option for vested immigrants.
Emirates 2015 looks back at 2015 and sheds a light on what the early months of 2016 has to offer.
The Express Entry system
Since January this year the federal government of Canada operates the Express Entry system, an application bank where potential candidates are ranked according to points awarded for personal and professional qualifications.
The Canadian government, the provinces as well as employers, are able to select the candidates that are most likely to succeed. All the applicant needs to do is make sure their profile is listed.
It soon became clear that the number of points was the main concern for applicants, as there is a benchmark for every draw made. If the applicant did not meet this benchmark, he would not be considered for the draw and could only wait until the benchmark would decrease.
Luckily, this is exactly what has been happening over the last few months. Altough the benchmark went down and back up throughout the year, it has recently been on a steady decrease, which means that applicants with lower points may also be noticed next year.
“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,” wrote the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Reason for the decrease is that the beginning of the year saw a high number of pending applications, among which many with job offers at hand. A job offer provided the applicant with 600 of the 1200 points, a major advantage. These applications have now been handled and applicants without job offers are seen, explained the CIC.
Simultanuously, the number of applicants invited to apply is increasing, with a high number of applicants expected to be accepted next year. “The number of invitations issued per round is expected to increase as the pre-Express Entry inventory of applications is finalized,” said a CIC policy analys in a recent webinar.
In the latest draw 1,451 incitations were sent, while the total number of invitations so far stands at 29,560 over 22 draws.
The provincial programmes
Every province and territory with the exception of Nunavut runs its own immigration programme, called the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP).
While it is possible to apply through a PNP alone, many of the provinces aligned there programmes with the federal system this year, requiring the applicant to apply through the Expess Entry system, while showing interest in that particular programme.
According to the CIC there has been a rush of PNP invitations issued some months after the Express Entry system was launched, as many PNP’s were launched shortly after that.
Some programmes were so popular that the intake period had to be shortened, as the application threshold had been reached before the deadline. This was the case in Alberta and British Columbia.
In other provinces the large number of applicants led to several intake periods; Saskatchewan re-opened its Skilled Worker programme 4 times with the threshold reached within days each time, and Nova Scotia re-opened its programme as well.
While many applicants were accepted in Quebec last year, a fresh round of applications will start on 18 January, 2016 for the Quebec Skilled Worker Programme (QSWP).
The QSWP is a programme similar to its federal equivalent but considered to be more lenient in terms of criteria. It enables the regular immigrant to move to Canada to live and work there, provided the person settles in the province of Quebec. It is the most competitive provincial programme in Canada.
A total of 2800 applications will be accepted through the online portal only, as the last 3600 application accepted through post were accepted in 2015.
In the meantime, investors only have until 29 January, 2016 to apply for the Quebec Investor Programme (QIP), which was re-opened in August this year.
The QIP is tailored to wealthy immigrants who wish to invest and settle in the province of Quebec. In exchange for a minimum investment in the local economy, Canadian residency will be provided.
This intake round has a threshold of 1750 applications.
Parent and Grandparent sponsorship
Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Canadian residency and perhaps, citizenship under the Parent and Grandparent Programme (PGP).
This highly popular programme will be re-opened on 4 January, 2016.
Although it is not yet clear how many applications will be accepted, the intake gap is often reached very quickly.
In 2015 the government of Canada accepted 5,000 completed applications, which were submitted in just a couple of days.
The year before the same application cap was reached within three weeks.
As the system operates on a first come, first serve basis, acting fast is key for sponsors as well as applicants.