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A comparison of Express Entry and Canadian Work Permits

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has this month launched the Express Entry program (formerly referred to as Expression of Interest). It is an ambitious effort to rid itself of the multi-year application processing backlogs that once plagued visa offices and to also improve responsiveness of permanent resident programs to local labour market requirements. The goal of the program is to permit expedited processing of permanent resident applications for candidates who are selected by a ranking or scoring system based on their (principally) electronic Express Entry profiles.

The Profile considers some factors that are common for those aware of the various Canadian immigration programs: age, education, language ability, arranged employment in Canada, etc. However, it is important to note that this scoring is not intended to determine the eligibility of the candidate for permanent resident status. That is still left to the various economic class programs such as the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Nominee programs, etc. The Express Entry scoring is intended to determine priority of processing, allowing CIC to select applicants, based on that score and on perceived demand for their skill-set in the Canadian labour market. Applicants who are selected are being promised that their permanent resident applications will be processed within six months following submission.

A difficulty that has been discussed with the Express Entry program is that there is little transparency regarding how someone’s scoring relates to their likelihood of being selected. The concern is that CIC will have a magical hand in the process, subjectively deciding what cases it wishes to process. Will factors such as nationality contribute to the invitation process? The truth will not be known for some time and, likely, will only come to light once interested parties file requests under Access to Information provisions. No doubt, however, candidates will be selected and, hopefully, the immigration applications will be processed in the time frames currently being promised.

Canadian job offers, labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA), work permits, and possession of a nomination from a province will all play a significant factor in the probability that candidates will receive an invitation to apply for permanent resident status. Those with arranged employment or those who have been selected through a provincial nominee program are expected to be much more likely to receive the invitation from CIC. In fact, of the total 1200 points that are potentially awarded to a Profile, fully half of those (or 600) derive directly from possession of arranged employment (which can include possession of work permits exempt from the LMIA requirement) or provincial nomination.

There has been some comparison of the Express Entry program and the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program. A goal of both is to permit the timely admission of a foreign worker in a circumstance in which a Canadian employer is genuinely incapable of locating a Canadian to perform an occupation. To make this happen in the Express Entry program, employers will generally still need to go through the entire LMIA process, which is in no way abbreviated for this class of applicant. Once the LMIA is completed, average processing delays of a work permit will certainly be quicker for work permits as compared to permanent resident applications, even if CIC can achieve its goal of six-month processing. In some cases, after all, the work permit could conclude in as little as a day following LMIA approval. On the other hand, going the Express Entry route would mean that the necessity of extension of the LMIA and/or work permit down the road is negated. Certainly, for International Mobility applications (i.e., work permit cases that are exempt from the LMIA process), there will be a tremendous time advantage of seeking a work permit vs. Express Entry.

The variable that will ultimately most distinguish the Express Entry and TFW programs will be the selection for invitation. Compared to the TFW, once the LMIA is approved, work permit processing can be initiated immediately, and the conclusion will follow in due course. In the Express Entry program, the employer could go through the LMIA process, have the candidate create a Profile, but never see the invitation to apply materialize. However, there is nothing to say that the two programs could not be used in combination to allow for quicker more reliable processing of a work permit combined with speedy approval of a permanent resident application through express entry.

Date Posted: January 29, 2015 Posted In: Express Entry,International Mobility Program,Labour Market Impact Assessment,Permanent Resident

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