Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that, as of June 6, 2017 French speakers and candidates with a sibling in Canada will receive additional points under the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). While these tweaks may not alter the make-up of the pool in a radical way, the additional points may make a positive difference to candidates who may obtain the new additional points.
In addition, registration in the Canada Job Bank will become voluntary.
The CRS in its current form will continue to be used in order to rank and select candidates in the pool, and it is expected that IRCC will continue to conduct draws from the pool until June 6, as well as after that date.
The most recent improvements to the CRS took place last November, when the number of CRS points awarded for a qualifying job offer was reduced from 600 to 50 or 200, depending on the position offered. At the same time, IRCC made a change to award additional points to candidates who had completed their education in Canada.
Before November, 2016, the CRS had not been altered in any way since Express Entry first became operational in January, 2015.
These changes taken together may been seen as part of the government of Canada’s continued efforts to optimize the Express Entry system in order to invite more candidates with skills and experience that, according to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, “will help our economy and communities to grow.”
So far in 2017, IRCC has ramped up the number of candidates being invited; the first three months of last year saw a total of 9,465 ITAs issued, whereas so far this year, a total of 24,652 ITAs have been issued, an increase of more than 160 percent.
Since the launch of Express Entry, Canada has welcomed more than 43,000 landed immigrants through the Express Entry system. Nearly 90,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence have been issued in that time, with many applicants either awaiting a decision on their application or having received confirmation of permanent residence, but not having yet completed the process of landing in Canada.
French language skills
In order to enter the Express Entry pool, eligible candidates must first prove proficiency in English or French by taking a standardized language test recognized by IRCC. Of the 1,200 points available in total under the CRS, 136 points may be awarded for a candidate’s first language, with a further 24 available for ability in a second language. Up to 100 more points are available for a candidate’s language skills within the combination (skills transferability) factors.
This will remain the case as of June 6. However, IRCC is tweaking the CRS to award additional points to candidates with French language skills, with more additional points to be awarded to French speakers who also prove their English skills.
A total of 15 additional points will be awarded to candidates who prove adequate intermediate (equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark 7) or better French ability, and English ability of CLB 4 or lower.
A total of 30 additional points will be awarded to French speaking candidates who prove adequate intermediate or better French ability, and who also prove English ability of CLB 5 or better.
Candidates who wish to be awarded CRS points for French ability must take the Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF).
Currently, there are other ways in which candidates may benefit from their French ability. For example, the province of Ontario operates an Express Entry-aligned French Speaking Skilled Worker Stream within the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). In the case of this stream, a CLB of 7 in French and a CLB of 6 in English is required.
Siblings in Canada
As of June 6, candidates with a sibling in Canada who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of at least 18 years of age may be awarded 15 additional CRS points. These points may also be awarded if the candidate’s spouse or common-law partner has a sibling in Canada.
The candidate or his or her spouse/common-law partner must share a mother and/or father with the sibling in Canada. This relationship can be through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership.
According to IRCC, ‘having a sibling in Canada has been shown to improve health and social outcomes by accelerating a newcomer’s integration into their new life in Canada.’
Canada Job Bank
On June 6, Job Bank registration will become voluntary for all candidates. Candidates who do not have a job in Canada lined up and would like to start their job search will nevertheless be able to register for Job Bank, and this option is expected to continue to be available free of charge. Employers may use the Job Bank, as well as their own recruitment procedures, to search for and hire skilled workers.
This step follows the changes last November, which reduced the number of points that may be awarded for a job offer. Together, the two changes (from November, as well as the upcoming changes in June) show that IRCC is de-emphasizing the job factor within Express Entry, in doing so promoting human capital and skills factors.
Since Express Entry was launched, and until June 6, candidates without qualifying job offer or a provincial nominationmust register in the Job Bank before they become eligible for selection.
“The government of Canada had alluded to the possibility of changes of this nature coming down the line. I think all stakeholders will be glad that the announcement comes with more than two months of warning before the changes are implemented, allowing them to prepare,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“Furthermore, these are slight changes, and nothing more. An additional 15 or 30 points is unlikely to shake up the pool in any major way, and those candidates who do benefit because of their French ability or by having a sibling in Canada — or both, for that matter — are unlikely to shoot up to the top of the ranking system as a result.
“The more fundamental improvements took place last November, and the results of those changes have clearly been of benefit to the majority of candidates and applicants. IRCC has been as good as its word in inviting more candidates based on human capital, skills and experience, and the number of candidates being invited has skyrocketed over recent months.
“Lastly, I am glad to see that registration in the Job Bank will become voluntary. This move empowers candidates and employers alike, rather than forcing them to use one specific job matching facility among many. It will allow candidates and employers alike to take their own proactive approaches to networking and recruitment, and that’s what Canada wants and needs — newcomers who are comfortable making their own decisions for the benefit of themselves and their families.”