Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held consultations with the public and stakeholders in order to adapt Express Entry to better match Canada’s economic needs and labour shortages by adapting the application management system. In order to accomplish this goal, the department plans to create Express Entry categories that target key attributes such as educational credentials, work experience, or knowledge of an official language, as opposed to only focusing on a high score within the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
It has been said that IRCC may consider inviting Express Entry candidates based on their occupational background, sectors of the economy with labour shortages, whether the candidate has been in Canada as an international student or as a temporary foreign worker, and whether the candidate is proficient in French or English languages.
Under the Express Entry system, skilled workers can apply for permanent residence through one of three immigration pathways, namely the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, or the Federal Skilled Trades Program, as a means of legal immigration.
At the present time, eligible candidates who apply for permanent residency through these programs are given a score using the CRS (Comprehensive Ranking Score). The candidates with the highest scores are most likely to receive an invitation to apply (ITA).
The consultations were based on the success of the same method employed for establishing Canada’s annual Immigration Levels Plan, which sets Canada’s annual immigration targets over a three-year period.
Because the consultation process ended on January 8, 2023, the results have not yet been released. However, IRCC has stated that targeted draws will most likely start this spring when IRCC has just concluded the consultation process. When the Minister determines which categories should be used, they will then be made public before invitations can be sent out.
Categories that could be considered:
Candidate Selection is Based on the Fact that They Have Worked in a Specific Field or Occupation
The IRCC is considering adding a category for work experience in occupations or sectors that are experiencing chronic labour shortages to its application. As part of the consultation process, IRCC asked respondents to outline areas of the labour market experiencing long-term shortages and provide suggestions on how immigration can complement Canada’s existing workforce as part of its consultation process.
In the period from 2019 to 2021, the most common primary occupations of those candidates invited to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry were as follows:
- Food service supervisors
- Administrative assistants
- Financial auditors and accountants
- Retail sales supervisors
- Software engineers and designers
- Professional occupations in advertising, marketing, and public relations
- Computer programmers and interactive media developers
- Information systems analysts and consultants
- User support technicians
- Restaurant and food service managers
- Administrative officers
Providing a Seamless Transition to Permanent Residency for International Graduates
It has been suggested that an Express Entry category that focuses on international student graduates may be a better way to address critical shortages. If a new Express Entry category were to be created, graduates from a Designated Learning Institution with a degree or diploma in an in-demand field could be included.
IRCC notes international student graduates are well positioned to qualify for permanent economic immigration as they are proficient in at least one official language and possess Canadian educational qualifications as well as work experience. They are often in their core working-age years, which means they are going to be able to contribute to Canada’s economy for many years to come.
It is expected that over 88,000 international graduates will transition to permanent residence through Express Entry in 2021, a number that has increased by 80% since 2017. However, the process of obtaining permanent residence while in Canada on a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) can be time-consuming and difficult.
A Transition Plan for Temporary Foreign Workers to Become Permanent Residents
It is also being proposed by IRCC that, as with international student graduates, a category would be created to make it easier for temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents through Express Entry as well. A number of stakeholders expressed concern that current pathways to permanent residence do not keep pace with the supply of temporary foreign workers that are capable of meeting Canada’s long-term labour force needs.
In addition to providing access to global talent, temporary foreign worker programs also assist in filling urgent job vacancies, which in turn contributes to economic growth.
The labour market integration of immigrants with prior temporary Canadian work experience is generally better and their skills can be more easily transferred.
Approximately 168,600 temporary workers became permanent residents in 2021, representing 64% of economic immigration admissions.
Choosing Bilingual and Francophone Candidates
The IRCC is also considering inviting candidates based on their ability to speak French. By the end of 2023, Canada will target 4.4% of new immigrants outside of Quebec to be French-speaking.
Only 30,000 francophones outside Quebec chose to settle in Canada between 2017 and 2021. By inviting more francophone candidates through Express Entry, the government will continue strengthening Canada’s bilingual character and fill labour gaps in communities where speaking French is a necessity.
Labor Shortage in Canada
The changes to Express Entry are in response to Canada’s aging population and one of the lowest global birth rates at 1.43 children per woman. As the population ages, the tax base shrinks, and social services become more expensive. It would be difficult to support Canada’s social systems if immigration were not increased.
Increasingly, the global economy is shifting to greener, digital economies, and automation, resulting in some of the most critical labour shortages. Skills gaps and rising job vacancies are partly responsible for the shortages in construction, healthcare, and professional, scientific, and technical services. These sectors require extensive training and specialized skills.
Mandates on Immigration
The immigration minister must address these objectives, among others, in the most recent Minister’s mandate letter:
- Address chronic labour market shortages and position for the future
- Invest in Francophone minority communities and support immigration
A new immigration law, Bill C-19, was passed on June 23, 2022, which allows the immigration minister to invite candidates for Express Entry based on their key attributes.
Candidates meeting the criteria for a particular category will be ranked according to their CRS scores, and the top among them will be invited to apply. Express Entry candidates will only be considered for category-based selection.