Canadian immigration announces new and quicker 'Express Entry' system

Canadian immigration minister Chris Alexander has announced that Canada will introduce its new 'active recruitment' immigration system in January 2015. It will be known as 'Express Entry' and will be similar to Australia's SkillSelect skilled immigration system.

Mr Alexander's predecessor Jason Kenney began work on the new system in 2012. It has been known as the Expression of Interest system until now. Mr Alexander says that he believes that the new system will be 'a game changer' which will 'revolutionize the way we attract skilled immigrants, and get them working here faster'.

The new system aims to make it much quicker for skilled foreign workers to gain permanent residence visas than before. Mr Alexander says that he hopes that a successful applicant will have his/her application processed in six months once Express Entry is up and running.

Four immigration programs

The system will be used by applicants in four current immigration programs
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program - this is Canada's main skilled immigration programme. About 55,000 people gain visas each year under this program. The three sub-streams are as follows:
    • 5,000 visas available annually for applicants skilled in one of 24 'eligible occupations'. Many engineering and medical occupations are on the list.
    • Unlimited number of visas available for applicants who have an offer of skilled employment in Canada. This stream accounts for the great majority of FSWP visas.
    • Unlimited number of visas available for those studying for a PhD at a Canadian university or for those who have recently received a PhD.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program - This allows up to 3,000 skilled tradespeople to gain permanent residence visas each year. There are 43 skilled trades on the FSTP occupations list. They include carpenters, plumbers and mechanics
  • The Canadian Experience Class – This stream allows some 12,000 people annually to apply for Canadian permanent residence visas. To qualify, you must have worked in a skilled occupation in Canada for at least 12 months.
  • The Provincial Nominee Programs – Canada is a federal state comprising ten provinces and three territories. Each of them has its own immigration programme. Each province has slightly different requirements for skilled workers. Applicants under the PNP should apply to a provincial or territorial government for nomination. If the applicant meets the provincial/territorial government's requirements, then he/she will usually be nominated for a visa. The applicant then applies to the Federal government's immigration department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the application processed.

Expression of interest

Under the new Express Entry system, applicants will be able to submit an 'expression of interest' to the Canadian government. They will provide a CV (résumé) and their details will be entered into a database. Employers who are seeking foreign skilled workers will have access to some information from the database and will be able to select suitable candidates.

Those candidates who are not chosen after their profiles have been on the database for some time will be removed from the database. The idea behind the scheme, according to CIC, is to 'allow the government to select the best candidates who are most likely to succeed in Canada, rather than those who happen to be first in line'.

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