In a significant development for Express Entry candidates across the world, Bill C-19 has received royal assent on June 23, 2022.
The new law is an important development because it permits Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the option to issue Invitation to Apply to foreign skilled workers based on occupation, language, and other subjective factors.
Express Entry before Bill C-19
To analyze the impact of Bill C-19, it is important to understand how Express Entry worked till date.
The biggest plus of the Express Entry application system was its objective approach towards skilled workers immigration. All skilled workers had to create an Express Entry profile. They were scored on the basis of various parameters like work experience, language skills, educational qualifications, adaptability in Canada, and other factors.
They were then assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System score, and this CRS was the basis on which skilled workers were issued Invitations to Apply for permanent residence.
This was a very good system because it meant all applicants will be scored and ranked objectively. Only those who had a high CRS score would be eligible to immigrate to Canada. The bi-weekly Express Entry draws allowed authorities to fix the minimum score for issue of ITA.
Flaws in the System
Express Entry introduced some much-needed objectivity, stability, and predictability to Canada’s skilled workers immigration system. However, this did not mean it did not have its share of flaws.
Issue of ITAs on basis of the objective CRS score meant that there was no scope for any adjustment or changes based on subjective factors.
Here is a theoretical example of the flaw in the Express Entry application system.
Canada conducts the EE draw and issues ITAs to all candidates with a CRS score of 502 points or higher. What will happen if there are 1,200 skilled workers in the Express Entry pool with a score of 502 points or higher and they are all tech workers?
Under the existing setup, all 1,200 candidates will get the ITA irrespective of whether Canada needs 1,200 tech workers or not. Canada may need more healthcare workers or oil professionals or engineers specializing in renewable energy. But, the ITAs will go to those with higher CRS scores with no consideration to other factors.
This is just a theoretical example, but it highlights an important flaw in the system that Bill C-19 aims to redress.
Express Entry after Bill C1-9
So, how will Express Entry change now that Bill C-19 has become the law?
Going ahead, IRCC has the legal authority to issue ITAs on basis of occupation, language, intended destination, or any other group of skilled workers that supports Canada’s economic goals.
Going back to the 1,200 ITAs example, IRCC now has the option of issuing ITAs to healthcare workers or other skilled workers planning to settle somewhere other than Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, or skilled workers who are proficient in French as well as English.
IRCC can do so even if these skilled workers have a lower CRS score as compared to other candidates in the Express Entry pool.
So, does this law mean an end to the predictable and objective Express Entry system? Certainly not. This law merely gives IRCC the legal authority to issue invitations based on specific subjective factors.
This gives Canada the ability to ensure the selected candidates have in-demand skills and/or educational qualifications that the country’s labor market needs. This law creates the much-needed balance in the immigration system.
Just as a system based completely on subjective factors won’t work, one that puts a premium on stability and predictability at the cost of damage to the labor market won’t work either.
Obviously, there will be specific rules and processes that will regulate how the powers granted by the new law will be exercised.
What the Change Means for Skilled Workers?
This new law means skilled workers must look beyond their CRS scores and focus on developing skills, experience, language proficiency, or even the province they intend to settle in to boost their chances of getting an ITA.
It remains to be seen whether provinces can issue nominations based on subjective factors beyond the CRS score./
This means Canada immigration can no longer be reduced to an exercise aimed at boosting your CRS score. You need professional immigration guidance that focuses on the conventional objective route to the ITA as well as the option introduced by the new law.