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CANADA: New

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has introduced "Express Entry," a new permanent residence immigration process modeled on New Zealand's and Australia's permanent residence immigration processes. As of January 2015, applicants for Canadian permanent residence under certain economic programs who will be residing outside of the Province of Québec must apply for permanent residence via Express Entry. Applicants who intend to reside in Québec are not subject to Express Entry and must apply to one of Québec's permanent residence programs.

Express Entry applicants must first create an Express Entry profile online and input their personal information such as age, level of education, proficiency in Canada's official languages (English and French), Canadian and foreign work experience, and whether they have arranged employment in Canada. Upon creating the profile, applicants are then placed in a "pool," are assigned points based on such factors, and are ranked against other applicants in the pool. Applicants who have arranged employment in Canada—that is employment backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) issued by Employment and Social Development Canada—can receive 600 bonus points. To secure an LMIA, for which there is no charge for Express Entry purposes, an employer must advertise the permanent position and demonstrate that no Canadians can be found to fill it. Candidates without arranged employment must register with the Canadian Job Bank to connect with potential employers.

CIC will be regularly performing "draws" to select the highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool and issue them Invitations To Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence. Only candidates who are among the highest ranked in the pool and have received ITAs can proceed with submitting permanent residence applications.

In addition to receiving an ITA, an eligible candidate must qualify for one of Canada's existing permanent residence programs: the Canadian Experience Class Program, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Provincial Nominee Program. CIC has stated that it will process permanent residence applications in 6 months or less, as opposed to a minimum of 12 months under the previous system.

Applicants wishing to proceed with creating an Express Entry profile should first take one of the designated English or French tests recognized by CIC and have their foreign academic records evaluated by a designated Educational Credential Assessment agency. This increases the chances of being awarded Express Entry points for official language proficiency and level of education. Where applicable, LMIAs should be sought by employers to permit the possibility of 600 bonus points to be accorded to Express Entry applicants. These processes can take several weeks to complete, so it is best that they be started well in advance of applicants activating their Express Entry profiles.

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