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Canada: Express Entry changes ease residency route for int’l students

The Canadian government has confirmed long-anticipated changes to the Express Entry system that promise to ease the route to permanent residence for international students, and therefore boost Canada’s competitiveness as a study destination.

John McCallum announced changes to Express Entry for international studentsMinister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum announced the changes to Express Entry for international students at the CBIE conference this week. Photo: The PIE News.

"Attracting and retaining the world’s brightest minds is essential to advancing Canada’s economic growth and innovation agenda"

As of November 19, time spent studying at the postsecondary level in Canada will be given a bigger weighting in the points-based Express Entry system, meaning that more international students will be invited to apply for the fast-track permanent residence application process.

“That is a very high proportion of the total numbers who will be international students”

There will also be fewer points offered under Express Entry for a job offer, which should help to “level the playing field” for international students who don’t yet have qualified job offers, according to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum.

As a result, the government anticipates the proportion of people invited to apply under express entry made up by international students will rise from 30% to 40%.

“That is a very high proportion of the total numbers who will be international students,” McCallum said, announcing the changes at CBIE‘s annual conference this week.

“I would argue that is a good thing.”

Candidates who have been awarded a high number of points, for factors including age, education and job offers, are then invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Candidates seeking permanent residence in Canada are selected from a pool of permanent residence applicants and invited to apply via the Express Entry system based on points awarded for factors such as study in Canada, job offers, level of education and age.

Under the revised regulations, candidates who have completed one- or two-year diplomas in Canada will be awarded 15 points, while 30 points will be given to those who have completed a three-year diploma or degree in the country.

The current system also awards 600 points for a permanent job offer, which is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment. However, the changes this month will reduce the number of points awarded for holding a job offer from a senior management position to 200, while all other job offers will be worth 50 points.

“The number of points awarded for a job offer often made it hard for highly skilled candidates without job offers to get an invitation to apply,” according to a government announcement.

In addition, those who are in Canada temporarily on an employer specific Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt work permit are no longer required to get an LMIA to be awarded points under Express Entry.

“These changes to the Express Entry system send a clear signal to the world”

And job offers will only need to be for a minimum of a year, rather than permanent, to count towards Express Entry, which McCallum noted will make it easier for postsecondary institutions to hire tenure track faculty – correcting a problem many institutions have faced under the current system, he said.

“Reducing the number of points for a job offer and getting a greater number of points to very skilled candidates in Express Entry makes a lot of sense,” said McCallum.

Easing the application process itself, candidates who receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence under Express Entry will now have 90 days to complete their application, extending the current 60-day deadline.

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, lauded the changes that he said send “a clear signal to the world and will make Canada’s universities a global magnet for international talent”.

Amendments to Express Entry coincide with new data from CBIE showing that while there were 8% more international students in Canada in 2014/15, growth is slowing.

“We have to be competitive and when we give more points to students to help them become permanent residents that will make Canada more competitive in relation to other countries,” McCallum emphasised.

Earlier this year, the government also outlined changes in the route to Canadian citizenship, which allowed international students to count study time towards their application, and reduced stay requirements.

The changes fulfil a campaign promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year to ease the route to permanent residence for international students, and answer concerns from educators that international students had not been awarded enough credit for their time spent studying in the country.

Additional reporting by Beckie Smith.

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