This article appeared in the February 10, 2015 issue of the Asian Pacific Post.

On January 1, 2015 Canada’s immigration program was dramatically and fundamentally changed.  Overnight our immigration program morphed  from an applicant driven model, to a government selection driven model.  Up until December 31, 2014 an applicant could apply to immigrate  to Canada, knowing that so long as they met the selection criteria for a specific category of permanent residence, their application would be processed.  That all changed with the arrival of 2015 and Express Entry.  Now an applicant can only apply for permanent residence to Canada if, upon submitting a preliminary profile, they are given an Invitation To Apply (ITA) from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).  Without an ITA, you can not apply for permanent residence in this new process - Express Entry is not Easy Entry!

Express Entry is the new economic immigration selection model which applies to several categories for immigration to Canada including: the Federal Skilled worker program (FSW); the Federal Skilled Trades program (FSTP); the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).   Express Entry is designed to connect applicants who qualify under one or more of these program criteria, to be matched with employers requiring their skills and experience.  For an applicant, the first step is to make sure that you actually meet the criteria of one of these programs.  The second step is to have the proof that you meet the requirements of these programs.  In order to ensure that you meet the first step, which are the program criteria to be eligible to apply, you actually need to have the proof that you meet the second step first!  What does this mean?  From the outset, in order to determine that you meet the program criteria for Express Entry, you need to have your language test result scores, your educational credential evaluations, and your reference letters from your previous employers confirming your past work experience - in detail!  It really isn’t possible to determine and confirm that you will meet the Express Entry criteria without first having the essential documentation in support of an application. You need the proof that you qualify up front!

Once you determine that you will qualify, you need to submit your “profile” to CIC.  Based upon the information you provide in your profile, you will be rated on CIC’s “Comprehensive Ranking System” (CRS).  For those of you who are familiar with the points system for the FSW program criteria, the CRS evaluation is basically a pre-points evaluation to the actual points evaluation.  You will need to be able to score enough CRS points at the outset of the process based upon your education, work experience, language proficiency, work or educational history in Canada, the work or educational history or language proficiency of your spouse or  whether you have close relatives in Canada.  You will need to achieve enough CRS points to be given an “Invitation to Apply” (ITA).  Essentially you need to obtain a high enough point score to be given an ITA to be eligible to apply in order to determine that you have enough points to pass once you do actually apply.  If this sounds complicated, well, that’s because IT IS!

Submitting your profile is crucial to this process!  It is not a mere preliminary application process where you can scratch your head and decide what you plan to do in the future.  The “profile” is the basis upon which CIC determines whether to offer you an ITA or not. If you provide information in your profile which is not accurate, you may ultimately be found to have committed misrepresentation and not only denied permanent residence but prohibited from applying for permanent residence for a period of five years.  Yes, five years!

Assuming that you are given an ITA, you have 60 days to provide an electronic application for permanent residence.  You must provide all information electronically and you must do so within 60 days.  If you don’t meet these requirements, you must start all over again.  Given that there is only a 60 day window to provide the necessary proof to support your application, it is recommended that you obtain this proof at the very outset of this process - at the beginning to determine whether you actually meet the program criteria at the outset!  The dangling carrot to attract you to enter this new immigration application exercise is that applications will be finalized within six months of submission.  So upon being provided with an ITA and submitting your permanent residence application online with ALL the necessary supporting documentation - CIC is saying that they will finalize the processing of your application within six months!  This sounds great so long as you can manage to fulfill all of their requirements and you can also deliver this information within the 60 day time frame.

Based upon the applications that CIC receives, they will draw from the pool of Express Entry applicants.  The first draw was made on January 31, 2015 when CIC issued ITA’s to 779 applicants who had scored 886 CRS points.  The second draw was made on February 7, 2015 when a further 779 applicants who had scored 818 CRS points were issued ITA’s.  Future draws will be made based upon the applicants who have completed profiles and have the highest CRS scores.

The new Express Entry immigration process is not easy.  You need to have all of your documentation in order at the outset to prove that you meet the necessary requirements of the program. You need to ensure that the profile that you submit is completely accurate and you need to have all the supporting documentation to complete your application within 60 days of receiving an ITA.  This is CIC’s new world order for economic immigration - Express Entry is not Easy Entry!