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CANADA: Express Entry Program

Since January 2015, when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced Express Entry, a new permanent residence immigration process, the process has solidified and immigration practitioners are learning to navigate the online Express Entry system.

Express Entry is a points-based system that ranks candidates according to various human capital and personal criteria and allows CIC to issue a limited number of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence. Since January, CIC has issued approximately 13,000 ITAs to candidates to permit them to subsequently submit permanent residence applications. Following are highlights of the new system:

Express Entry draws. CIC "draws" of the highest-ranked candidates have been occurring every few weeks. For each draw, CIC establishes the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) point score required to receive an ITA, which allows the agency to manage the intake of permanent residence applications. The minimum CRS score was initially very high—over 800 CRS points for the first three draws (886, 818, and 808 CRS points) early in the year, which required those who were drawn to have had a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or Provincial Nomination Certificate in their favor, which grants a bonus 600 CRS points. Subsequent draws have dropped since March 2015 to the mid- to high-400's CRS point range, with the lowest dips occurring at two draws at 453 CRS points on March 27, 2015, and on April 17, 2015. The minimum CRS score required to receive an ITA may continue to drop slightly for the remainder of the year, although it is unlikely to drop drastically.

Provincial Nominee Programs. Over the past months, the Canadian provinces have been implementing their own unique Express Entry Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which are province-based selection programs that can accord a candidate 600 bonus points in Express Entry. Provinces have taken awhile to implement PNPs because of the need to move to electronic PNP systems that are compatible with Express Entry. British Columbia was the first province to implement a PNP for Express Entry and issue Provincial Nominee Certificates to applicants. Recently, Ontario has released its own PNP program, which encompasses both a Human Capital Stream and a French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream. Other Canadian provinces with Express Entry PNPs include Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

Documentary requirements. CIC has issued the majority of ITAs for permanent residence based on governmental discretion pursuant to the Federal Skilled Worker Program, as opposed to the Canadian Experience Class Program, even for those candidates working in Canada. Because the Federal Skilled Worker Program has additional documentary requirements, it is important to start gathering documents that may be needed even before an ITA is received and often before the Express Entry profile itself is created. Documents that often need to be uploaded in the online permanent residence application after receiving an ITA can include employment letters and pay slips for present and past employment, official language exam results (English and French), copies of police certificates, immigration medical examination receipts, copies of civil identity documents, and proof of settlement funds except for those working in Canada with certain work permits.

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