Express Entry Programme for International Graduates

Canada introduces new process for international students hoping to immigrate

At the beginning of January, the Canadian government introduced a new application process for international graduates of Canadian universities and colleges wishing to immigrate to Canada: the Express Entry programme.

Under the new programme, international students who have graduated from a Canadian institution are placed in a “pool” with other groups of skilled workers and prospective immigrants. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) then uses a standardized scoring scheme (the “Comprehensive Ranking System”) to determine which applicants to the pool will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. Those who receive an ITA may then go on to complete the application process via one of several previously established immigration programmes.

There are two significant aspects of this new system for international students intending to apply to remain in Canada after graduation:

  • Under the new rules, they must compete with a larger pool of skilled workers for a chance to apply for permanent residency.
  • The Express Entry system effectively establishes an additional step or set of requirements for students who wish to apply for permanent residency. The Canadian Bar Association has said of the new rules, “The Express Entry programme … imposes a new layer of requirements before prospective applicants are ‘invited’ to make an economic class application for Permanent Resident (PR) status. These requirements apply to all applicants in the Federal Skill Worker (FSW), Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trade (FST) Worker classes.”

Today’s post takes a closer look at the new Express Entry programme, including perspectives from legal experts, students, other stakeholders and also from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Canada’s attractiveness to international students

The Canadian government, from around 2005 to 2013, created and implemented immigration policies designed expressly to help talented international students to become permanent residents of Canada, perhaps the most notable being the Canadian Experience Class, which was launched in 2008. These policies were very influential in helping Canada to develop a more prominent profile across the world as an attractive study destination.

It is perhaps not coincidental that, after the Canadian Experience Class came into being, Canada began to compete more seriously with the US, the UK, and Australia for international students – nor that Canada’s international student enrolments began to jump dramatically after its implementation. The number of international students in Canada grew 22.8% from 2011 to 2013 and 11% from 2012 to 2013, and there are now close to 300,000 international students in the country.

Instrumental to a good part of this growth are the international students who came to Canada to study – and hopefully stay. A 2014 CBIE report, A World of Learning: Canada’s Performance and Potential in International Education, found that half of its international student respondents said they would apply for permanent resident status in Canada at some point in the future.

The increasing numbers of international students that have been coming to Canada with hopes of staying coincide with a growing sentiment that such students are integral to Canada’s knowledge economy.

What changes with Express Entry?

Overall, the Express Entry programme is meant to prioritise Canadian immigration candidates with the highest likelihood of contributing to the Canadian economy and its labour force skills shortages.

Express Entry requires students to submit an online profile detailing their basic information as well as their education and employment experience. All profiles are then ranked according to a scoring system that allocates points for each type of qualification or requirement.