Since January this year the federal immigration system of Canada has been streamlined under a single scheme: the Express Entry system.
This system functions as 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.
For more information on how it works, click here.
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has released a mid-year report, indicating how applicants fared under the new scheme.
As of July 6, 2015, a total of 112,701 foreign nationals submitted an Express Entry profile. 12,017 were invited to apply for permanent resident status, and of these applicants, 7,528 actually applied.
Till now, 655 applicants have been approved for Canadian residency, reported the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The 665 applicants approved under the new system looks like a meager number against the total of 112,701 applications received.
However, there are several factors that influenced this number.
The majority of the applications of those who were invited are still in progress.
In fact, 5,835 applications are currently in progress, reported the CIC.
In addition, a shockingly high number of applications are deemed ineligible.
A total of 48,723 submitted files proved the applicant as not eligible for one of the programmes for immigration to Canada.
Applicants must be eligible under one of the federal programmes – The Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) – or comply with the requirements of one of the current 12 Provincial Nominee Programmes (PNP).
Further, 4,302 applications are currently pending to be submitted in the list, and 6,441 applicants withdrew their files over the past six months.
Based on these figures, the actual number of eligible files was 53,235.
Based on the 12,017 applicants invited, we can conclude that 22.6 per cent of eligible candidates received an invitation to apply.
After these invitations, the number of active candidates in the pool now stands at 41,218.
Who is successful?
With only about a fifth of eligible applicants invited, it becomes clear that competition is high.
As the system weighs applicants against each other, it becomes a key to understanding who the successful applicants are.
Candidates are ranked according to their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores at the time of an invitation round.
Candidates with higher scores have a higher likelihood of being invited.
The total number of points awarded is 1200.
Candidates can receive 600 additional points for a job offer or a provincial/territorial nomination, and 500 core human capital factors.
In other words; a job offer is the way to get in.
“Almost all candidates invited in the first four invitation rounds had job offers supported by LMIAs," wrote the CIC. (All jobs offered to Express Entry candidates need to be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment – LMIA.)
"In March, candidates without job offers or provincial nominations (CRS score less than 600 points) began to be invited on a regular basis.”
While in the first four invitation rounds all candidates had more than 600 points, this rate dropped later in the year with in some rounds only 20 per cent of successful applicants scoring above 600.
However, in most rounds the 600-plus invitees still represented the majority.
Canadian newspaper ‘The Star’ commented: “Critics have argued that meeting the selection cutoff score and being invited does not necessarily mean the best candidates are chosen, as the new system favours those who have obtained the LMIA.
“For instance, someone with a total score of 649 can actually be a weaker candidate than someone with 599 points who earned the score strictly from his or her personal attributes — rather than with the boost of 600 bonus points that comes from an approved job opportunity”.
Significantly, rounds where high-scorers represented the majority saw a high rate of applications for the CEC, indicating that these applicants were already in Canada through previous programmes, now requiring to go through the Express Entry system to get a residency.
"The vast majority of these candidates were working in Canada, were familiar with Canada’s immigration system and were able to submit a profile quickly," wrote the CIC.
Tim Leahy, Managing Director and General Counsel at the Canadian-based Forefront Migration Ltd. commented: “When Immigration Canada introduced this migration scheme, it effectively abolished the ‘Canada Experience Class’ for international students, who previously required only to have worked for one year in an approved occupation.
“Now they, too, require confirmation that no qualified Canadian resident is willing to accept the position they are holding.
According to Leahy, the new system has made it increasingly difficult for individuals to migrate to Canada without a job offer at hand.
“I have declined to allow anyone, who does not have an approved job offer, to retain my firm because I did not want to raise false hopes,” he said.