International Students and Express Entry

Ever since the launch of the Express Entry system launched in January of 2015, it seems that it has been more and more difficult for foreign workers and students to secure Permanent Resident (PR) status in Canada. While it was not so easy to secure PR status prior to the Express Entry launch, it has now become a lot more competitive and there are absolutely no guarantees that you will be extended an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for PR even if you meet the requirements of the program. International students who have successfully completed studies in Canada seem to be the most short changed by this new system of immigration that was implemented by the Conservative government shortly before their departure from office.

There are thousands of students who graduate every year, obtain at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada and then qualify for the Canadian Experience Class stream of immigration. Prior to Express Entry, this pathway would have been sufficient enough to guarantee you Permanent Resident status in Canada (given that there were no other issues concerning admissibility, etc.). Now however, this pathway does not guarantee your PR status. With the new Express Entry system you are now put into a pool of candidates who are evaluated on different selection factors and assigned points/ranks. Depending upon where you fair in that pool amongst your peers, you may or not be selected for PR based on the minimum point requirement that the government has set out for that round of invitations. The maximum points you can secure are 1200.

Herein lays the conflict for foreign students in Canada who have worked hard to complete studies here and not to mention invested money and time. With the new system there is no way for international students to be able to guarantee that they will in fact be able to secure PR status in Canada after their studies and subsequent work experience in Canada. For someone who has invested so much time, money and effort in their quest to become a Canadian, it seems to be unfair that they not have a guaranteed option to secure PR status in Canada, if all of their other credentials and personal history checks out.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, has been expressing his interest in reforming options for international students in Canada to be able to obtain PR status. After all, having obtained a Canadian education and contributing to Canada’s economy should account for something more than a few points in an Express Entry profile. These potential candidates usually prove to be the most valuable and contributing members of Canadian society.

There have been many ideas floating around about making the necessary changes to the Express Entry system so that it can serve the needs of the Canadian labour market while at the same time ensuring that we retain the highest level of talent. Mind you this is not easy to do, however, international students should not be the ones to suffer until this is worked out.

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