The Government of Canada introduced a few notable changes to the Express Entry system, which came into effect on June 6, 2017. These changes were:

1. Applicants can now collect an additional 15 points if they or their accompanying spouse or common law partner has at least one sibling living in Canada who is a permanent resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen. To get these points, the sibling must be:
a. Residing in Canada;
b. At least 18 years old;
c. Related by blood, marriage, common-law relationship or adoption; and
d. Have a parent in common;

2. An applicant who scores a 7 or higher on all four French language skills on Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC), he or she, in addition to the points received for official languages, will earn:
a. 15 points, if the applicant scored a Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) 4
or lower in English, or did not write an English proficiency test; OR
b. 30 points, if the applicant scored a CLB 5 or higher on all four English

3. The new changes also leave the creation of a Job Bank account at the discretion of the applicant. Once applicants have met the minimum entry criteria for express entry, they will automatically be placed into the Express Entry pool of candidates and become eligible for the next round of invitation, right away.

4. The new changes provide for a tie-breaker mechanism between applicants with the same Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score in the pool of candidates. This tie-breaker is based on the date and time the applicant first submits his or her online profile. If an applicant updates his or her profile, the time at which the original profile was submitted will be kept by the system. The profile, however, will be given a new time and date stamp should the applicant’s profile reach its 12 month validity and expire, or if the applicant chooses to withdraw his or her profile and create and submit a new one in its place.

These changes were automatically applied to submitted profiles and applicants’ scores were updated prior to the round of invitations following these updates.

While these changes increase the likelihood of selection for some applicants, it makes the Express Entry pool more competitive for others.

Ways to stay competitive

In order to stay competitive, those interested can benefit from some or all of the following tips to increase their likelihood of being selected from the pool of candidates:

1. Choose the primary applicant wisely. If you are applying with your spouse or common law partner and he or she is eligible and able to collect more points under Express Entry based on his or her age, education, language scores and work, naming your spouse or common law partner as the primary applicant can make a big difference.

2. Improve core human capital factors. Human capital factors points (a maximum of 600) are awarded for work, language proficiency and education. The following steps can be taken by the applicant or his/her spouse or common law partner, to increase scores under the human va:
a. Getting additional and relevant work experience;
b. Re-taking the language proficiency exams and achieving a higher score;
c. Getting further education;

3. Securing a valid job offer. A valid job offer backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) can give an applicant an additional 50 or 200 points.

4. Being selected by a province through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). A provincial nomination provides an additional 600 points to the applicant’s profile and can, therefore, secure an invitation to apply for the applicant. In this respect, if you have more than one degree or diploma, it is important to have all your educational credentials translated and assessed, in the event that you are eligible, and need to apply under a PNP without delay.

5. Have your spouse or common law partner take the language proficiency exams, and have his or her educational credential assessed. Your spouse may not only help increase your overall CRS score, but providing this information in your profile may assist selection under some PNPs.

6. Stay informed and know the latest. Consult the immigration and citizenship Canada’s website and provinces’ PNPs to stay informed of the frequent changes. For example, some programs available through the provinces and territories close after quotas are reached. By staying informed, you will not have closed any doors for programs that are available to you.

Remember, being eligible to enter the Express Entry pool does not mean an applicant has sufficient CRS points to receive an invitation to apply. Also, note that being selected from the pool of candidates does not mean that an applicant is now a permanent resident. If an invitation to apply has been given to the selected applicant, he or she is then given 90 days to provide all documentation supporting the information in his or her Express Entry profile. Depending on the number of supporting documents and the need to having them translated, uploading this information, and the time it takes to obtain a police certificate from all necessary countries, 90 days may not be a lot of time. Staying organized during this process is key!

To receive further information and to see how these changes can affect you, or how to improve your overall score, contact our office to make an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to discuss your Express Entry profile, or any other Canadian immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact Sogol Naserian at 613-234-2500.

The above-noted content is not intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Professional legal advice should be sought to address specific events and situations.