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What is Express Entry?
Express Entry (EE) is an online application system for potential Canadian immigrants. In this system, users build a profile to be considered for the status of a ‘skilled worker’. The highest ranked skilled workers are invited to apply for permanent residency, which enables them to live and work in Canada.
EE applicants are ranked through a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which takes into account factors like:
- French and English language skills
- Work experience and relevant skills
- Education level
- Education level, work experience and skills of the applicant’s spouse
If an applicant has received a qualifying job offer from a Canadian employer, this will also positively affect their CRS ranking.
The EE program uses these rankings to match high-quality applicants with in-demand skills to jobs in Canada. Governments on both the Federal and Provincial levels select top applicants in each of the four identified economic streams: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP),
A portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Once EE candidates are approved and matched with a job, expedited application processing takes six months or less.
Who Qualifies as a Skilled Worker?
Express Entry is only open to those who qualify as Skilled Workers, as defined by the Government of Canada. To qualify, workers’ current and past employment must meet certain requirements under the Canadian National Occupational Classification.
Only occupations listed as Skill Type 0, or Skill Level A or B can be used for an EE application:
Skill Type 0: Management jobs such as a restaurant manager, fishing boat captain or legislator.
Skill Level A: Professional occupations that usually call for one or more university degrees. This includes occupations like doctors, lawyers, dentists and architects.
Skill Level B: Technical, skilled trades that most often call for college level education, often in conjunction with apprenticeships. This includes occupations such as plumbers, chefs, electricians and construction estimators.
Hiring an Express Entry Employee
For employers, hiring an Express Entry employee is a tool created for when a job vacancy cannot be filled by a current canadian citizen or permanent resident. There are a few places to find potential EE applicants. Private job boards, Provincial Nominee programs, through the Canadian Job Bank’s Job Match function, or through your company’s current recruiting practices.
Workers found through the Provincial Nominee program or Canadian Job Bank will already have EE profiles. If your prospective worker is found through private boards or your company’s recruitment team, they must create an EE profile application.
Top-tier candidates receive an ITA (Invitation to Apply) for permanent residency. These are issued by the government in groups - generally at a rate of twice per month. Those invited have a 90-day window to apply, after which their application will be processed within six months.
Improving your Prospective Employee’s CRS Rank
Unlike Canada’s previous system, EE allows employers to directly influence the viability of foreign candidates for permanent residence status. EE profile ranking through the CRS ranks candidates with a maximum score of 1200 points. Only the highest scoring candidates are selected for permanent residency but as an employer, you can improve their score - and their chances of acceptance.
Making a valid job offer to your prospective employee is the best way to increase their chances of success. In fact, a valid job offer in a skilled field will improve the applicant’s CRS score by up to 200 points - over 15% of a total perfect score.
Valid job offers are job offers accompanied by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA is an assessment which confirms that there is both a need for a foreign worker and that there are no current Canadian citizens or permanent residents available for the job.
To apply for an LMIA, a few documents must be submitted to the Service Canada Centre. These are an LMIA application form, proof of a written job offer, proof of business legitimacy and proof of advertisement for the position in Canada. In some cases, a Schedule D Skilled Trades Job Offer form may also be required.
Once submitted, LMIAs will take anywhere from 7-30 days to be processed and approved or denied by Service Canada.
Some facts about LMIAs
- LMIAs usually come at a cost of $1000 CAD, but are fee-exempt when used for EE cases.
- LMIAs are also used to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW). Dual purpose LMIAs may be used to hire a TFA while also being used for that TFA’s EE application. Dual purpose LMIAs are not fee exempt.
- Workers who are currently on Open Work Permits and TFW who are LMIA exempt may submit an EE application without an LMIA. However, these workers will not be awarded any points towards their CRS rank for acquiring a valid job offer.
Barriers to Entry
Just as there are ways that an employer can positively affect an applicant’s chances of permanent residency through EE, there are also potential setbacks to applications that employers will want to avoid.
Labour Disputes: If a company is engaged in a labour dispute at the time in which they want to use EE, they will be deferred until after the dispute is resolved. If it is found that hiring an immigrant to a position at the company may further complicate the dispute, affect the settlement or disrupt the employment of someone involved in the dispute, any EE application attached to the company will not be approved.
Not Checking The Boxes: Employers must assure that they complete all paperwork involved in a potential employee’s application. This includes providing the applicant with a written offer of employment and completing the “Employer Section” of the worker’s application.
While the EE process can seem lengthy at times, it is usually the quickest way to attract top-tier foreign talent to your team. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Employer Liaison Network Officers are available to help guide business owners through the EE process and answer any questions that you may have along the way.
Looking for more resources on EEs?
For businesses located in Quebec: The province of Quebec is not party to the Express Entry program, as the province uses a separate system of selecting skilled workers for entry into the province.
Learn more about Quebec’s skilled workers program.
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