The government of Canada has announced that as of November 19, 2016, candidates with Canadian post-secondary education may be awarded additional points under the Comprehensive Ranking System for the Express Entry immigration system.
This news will likely be greeted with enthusiasm by many international students and graduates from Canadian institutions who wish to settle in Canada permanently. Obtaining the highest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points score possible is an important step for many people on their pathway to Canadian permanent residence. Under the new system, international graduates from Canadian study programs may obtain up to 30 CRS points, in addition to the points they obtain for the level of their education.
The CRS is the method used by the government of Canada to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool who wish to apply for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Class (FST), Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Upon entering the Express Entry pool, candidates are allocated points under the CRS. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts periodic draws from the pool, during which the highest-ranking candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA). With an ITA, an individual may then apply to the government of Canada for permanent resident status. IRCC aims to process submitted applications within six months.
Consequently, on November 19, many international graduates of Canadian post-secondary study programs who are in the Express Entry pool may find that their CRS score — bolstered by an additional 15 or 30 points — could be high enough to result in an ITA in a following draw. Graduates should also note that their profile may become more competitive, as other candidates’ scores may drop due to the number of points awarded for a job offer (another factor under the CRS) having been reduced significantly.
An individual who studied in Canada several years ago may obtain up to 30 additional points for their Canadian degree, diploma, or certificate, as there is no time limit on the eligibility of education for the purposes of being awarded points.
The upcoming changes bring the allocation of points for education — in Canada and abroad — more in line with the current method of allocating points for work experience. Currently, extra points are awarded for Canadian work experience compared to work experience abroad. With such a priority placed on skilled work experience, many international students may not yet have the work experience necessary to obtain these key points, though they may accrue such experience while on a Post-Graduation work permit. A recent report from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which advises the government of Canada, stated that ‘the median score for international students in 2015 was below the lowest invitation cut-off score to date.’
Prior to the report, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, had said, “International students have been shortchanged by the Express Entry system. They are the cream of the crop, in terms of potential future Canadians.” The government of Canada has frequently expressed its intention to ease the pathway to permanent residence for international students in Canada, and the introduction of additional points for Canadian post-secondary education is a significant move towards that goal. With the government of Canada actively encouraging international students to come to Canada and remain after graduation, there has never been a better time to study in Canada.
The new CRS
The new system will allocate up to 30 points to a foreign national with an eligible Canadian degree, diploma, or certificate in addition to the points allocated for the level of education. In order to be eligible for these additional points, the foreign national is required to have studied in Canada at a Canadian institution, in a full-time study or training program, for at least eight months. The foreign national must have been physically present in Canada for at least eight months during his or her studies.
Points are assigned only for the highest level of education reached by the principal applicant (PA), up to a maximum of 30 points. Spouses or common-law partners of principal applicants will not be awarded additional points for their educational credential if it was completed in Canada.
Foreign nationals who have completed a Canadian educational credential will, from November 19, 2016, obtain points according to the following guidelines:
|Level of education||With an accompanying spouse||Without an accompanying spouse||Additional points — Canadian education (PA only)|
|Less than secondary (high) school credential||0 points||0 points||0 points|
|Secondary school credential||28 for PA; 2 for spouse||30||0 points|
|One-year post-secondary program||84 for PA; 6 for spouse||90||15|
|Two-year post-secondary program||91 for PA; 7 for spouse||98||15|
|Post-secondary program of 3 or more years||112 for PA; 8 for spouse||120||30|
|Two or more post-secondary programs, of which at least one was completed after a post-secondary program of three or more years||119 for PA; 9 for spouse||128||30|
|Master’s or entry-to-practice professional degree||126 for PA; 10 for spouse||135||30|
|Doctoral Degree (PhD)||140 for PA; 10 for spouse||150||30|