The federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, stated that reforming the Express Entry immigration selection system is a priority for his department. Such reforms are expected to improve pathways to permanent residence for international graduates from Canadian schools, colleges, and universities. Express Entry was launched by the previous Conservative government in January, 2015.
Since Express Entry came into operation, however, it has become apparent that the pathway for international students to immigrate to Canada permanently is more uncertain than was the case previously. The new government has placed on the record its desire to change that.
The cream of the crop
“We must do more to attract students to this country as permanent residents. International students have been shortchanged by the Express Entry system. They are the cream of the crop in terms of potential future Canadians and so I certainly would like to work with my provincial and territorial colleagues to improve that,” said Mr. McCallum.
“I believe international students are among the most fertile source of new immigrants for Canada. By definition, they are educated. They speak English or French. They know something about the country, so they should be first on our list of people who we court to come to Canada.”
The Express Entry system requires candidates eligible for permanent resident status to make an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada. The government of Canada then invites certain individuals from this pool of candidates to apply for permanent residence using a points-based system known as the Comprehensive Ranking System.
Presently, a huge number of points — 600 out of a total of 1,200 — are allocated to individuals with a job offer from a Canadian employer or nomination from a Canadian province. In order for the job offer to be valid for the purposes of Express Entry, the employer has to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which serves as proof that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are ready, willing and able to fill the position.
Since its launch, Express Entry has had repercussions for international students wishing to remain in Canada after their studies who, until 2015, typically followed a path to permanent residence that did not require their employer to obtain a LMIA. That being said, most international students who graduate from a Canadian educational institution are eligible for a post-graduation work permit upon completion of their study program. This open work permit, which allows its bearer to work for any employer in Canada, may be issued for a maximum of three years.
Reforms unknown at this time
Though the exact nature of any potential reforms to the Express Entry system are yet to be determined, ideas that have been floated in order to assist international students include giving graduates specific points for education and work experience in Canada, and increasing the number of points an applicant for permanent residence gets simply by virtue of being an international student.
It could also mean decreasing the number of points applicants gain for receiving a permanent job offer, since students often struggle to get job offers that have government approval.
“The bottom line is that we definitely want to be more welcoming to international students and we will have more concrete proposals in the not too distant future,” said McCallum.
Multiple pathways to permanent residence for international graduates in Canada
Though many stakeholders have denounced how Express Entry has affected international students, it should be noted that there may be other routes towards permanent residence in certain cases. For example, the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan currently offer immigration pathways to interntional students, as does Quebec through the Quebec Experience Class (Programme de l’expérience Québécoise, or PEQ).
To learn more about your post-graduation Canadian immigration options across more than 60 immigration programs, fill out a free assessment form today.
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