International Students applying for the Express Entry Route

Express Entry: Good news for International Students applying for Permanent Residence

The Express Entry system may soon be undergoing some reforms in order to make the Permanent Residence application process easier for international students. The Immigration Minister John McCallum has openly referred to international students as the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to potential future Canadians, and has stated that international students are currently being ‘shortchanged’ by the by the Express Entry system. For many of the over 300,000 international students living and working in Canada hoping to apply for Permanent Residence, this is welcome news.

Challenges of Express Entry

When the Express Entry system was introduced, many international students were no longer eligible to apply for Permanent Residence (PR) the way they would have been had the old system remained in place.

Under the previous system that was in place until 2015, international students who had graduated and completed 1 year of full time skilled work while on their open post-graduate work permits were eligible to apply under Canadian Experience Class; but with the introduction of Express Entry, a recent graduate with only 1 year of work experience will qualify to be entered into the Express Entry pool, but will typically receive a CRS point score well below the lowest score that has ever been issued an invitation to apply (ITA) for PR.

Because Express Entry awards such a high number of points for individuals with ‘arranged employment’, this is the only way many International students could increase their point score enough to receive an ITA. But arranged employment is more than just a job offer from an employer; it requires applicants to have an approved Labour Marketing Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the government, or a Provincial Nomination under one of the PNP streams.

This presents a whole new set of challenges for international students pursuing PR, as it is often difficult for recent graduates to obtain jobs with an employer who is willing to provide the paperwork for these applications. It is not unusual to see international students leave well paying jobs at the corporate level in fields such as IT and finance in favour of employment at a much lower pay rate with a small privately owned business simply for the fact that major corporations are reluctant to participate in LMIA and PNP applications.

A proposed change to the system would include awarding an increased number of points for people who have studied and worked in Canada, with the greatest benefits of these changes obviously being international students, who do both.

Why do international students choose Canada?

Many international students choose Canada not only because it offers affordable, globally recognized quality education both at the college and university level; but also because of the post education advantages it offers. International students who graduate from a Canadian program are eligible to apply for an open post-graduate work permit, which allows international students to gain valuable work experience in Canada for up to 3 years. With Canadian work experience being valued more highly than foreign work experience in the Express Entry system, it is an added value for international students who are hoping to pursue Canadian PR.

When compared with other popular countries for international study such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia; the additional benefits of post graduate work opportunities and an opportunity to settle here permanently makes Canada a very attractive place to study.

If you are currently living abroad and are interested in pursuing international studies; and would like to experience all that Canada has to offer, please contact Akrami & Associates so that we can help you determine your admissibility! There is a reason why Canada has hundreds of thousands of international students, with that number increasing every year.

The future of Canadian Immigration for international students

The newly elected Liberal government has been very vocal and active regarding Canadian immigration, especially regarding the changes needed in order to better benefit international students during the Permanent Residence application process. Although it has not yet been determined what the exact changes to the Express Entry system will be, the fact that the Immigration Minister has deemed this a priority speaks of the positive changes to come for international students.

Canada is also making it easier for international students to obtain their Canadian Citizenship once they have PR. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced new legislation that will revoke changes to the Canadian Immigration Act that were put into place by the previous Conservative government. This legislation returns the Citizenship requirement of physical residency to 3 years of the past 5 years, and also reinstates international students’ ability to count 50% of their time spent in Canada on temporary permits such as study permits and work permits towards their physical residency. This is yet another way the Liberal government is showing their strong support, and desire to attract international students as future Permanent Residents and Canadian Citizens.

I am an international student, how can I improve my Express Entry point score?

If you are an international student who has work experience from your country of origin, or if you have already completed 1 year of work experience here in Canada, you may be eligible for Express Entry. You may already have an Express Entry profile, but feel your point score isn’t high enough to receive an invitation to apply. Although the government has announced its goals to assist international students in the near future, there are plenty of things you can do right now in order to help increase your point score, and increase your chances of getting an Invitation to Apply for PR.

Some things to consider:

Language skills

Many people fail to realize that language skills play a huge role in your point score, not only under the language category, but also under transferability skills. If you feel you could have done better on your language test, or if you are willing to take some instructional courses in order to improve, it could make all the difference.

Certificate of qualification

If your occupation is eligible for the 50 points under the category ‘certificate of qualification’, it is highly recommend you complete the testing for your certificate. This is one of the easiest ways to gain a substantial number of points on your profile.

Work experience

Whether you have just graduated, or if you are half way through the validity of your post-grad work permit, it is important to remember that not all occupations count as ‘skilled’! Only jobs that fall under categories O, A, and B on the skills matrix count towards your PR, so make sure whatever job you are doing is helping you work towards your immigration goals! Gaining more work experience will only help to increase your point score, so maintaining full time skilled employment is key.

Human Capital Priority Stream

Depending on your education, work experience, language skills, and funds, you may be eligible for a provincial nomination if you are living in Ontario. This stream of PNP could result in an extra 600 points on your Express Entry point score.

Labour Market Impact Assessment

Having an approved LMIA for your employment will also result in an additional 600 points on your Express Entry point score. This is considered ‘arranged employment’.

Contact Akrami and Associates

If you would like to create your Express Entry profile, think your point score is lower than it should be, or would like to work towards increasing your point score, Akrami & Associates can help! Often times people are missing out on crucial points just because they tried to create their profile themselves, and made simple errors- this could waste months of time waiting for your ITA, and delay your PR process! Akrami & Associates has an Immigration team with a wealth of experience in Express Entry and Permanent Residence applications that can help you get the maximum point score possible. Call us today for a consultation regarding your case to determine your eligibility, and begin working towards your Canadian immigration goals!

With Akrami and Associates there is always a way!!

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