The first full picture of the Express Entry system implemented by Immigration Canada shows that only one in 10 applicants succeed.
More than 112,700 people applied for permanent residency in Canada under the highly touted new system Ottawa introduced in January, but only 844 permanent resident visas were issued, including both the principal applicant and family members, and 411 people had arrived in Canada as of July 6, according to the program’s six-month review, reported the Toronto Star.
More than 85 per cent of the 12,017 candidates selected from the pool were already in Canada on temporary permits at the time of the application, reported the Toronto Star. The top five source countries included India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Ireland and China.
“It is remarkable that only 844 visas have been issued for a program which has invited over 12,000 people to apply. Within the 844, only 411 have actually used their visas and been admitted to Canada as permanent residents,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Shoshana Green, according to the Star.
“Is 844 visas considered a successful program? With over 85 per cent of the invitations being made for applicants currently residing in Canada, is the world really interested in Canada anymore?”
Here are some of the highlights of the Immigration Canada report on its new Express Entry System:
- CIC received profiles from 112,701 potential candidates between January 1 and July 6, 2015.
- A total of 48,723 were not eligible for the pool as they did not meet the minimum criteria for permanent residence based on the Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades or Provincial Nominee Program.
- Out of the 12,928 invitations issued for the period covered by the report, 70 per cent had qualifying scores over 600 points – meaning those candidates had qualifying job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), Labour Market Opinion (LMO) or Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) Certificate.
- The vast majority of candidates (85 per cent) invited to apply through Express Entry were already in Canada.
- Despite issuing 12,928 invitations, only 7,528 completed applications have been received. Of these completed applications, only 844 permanent resident visas have been issued, and fewer than half of these, 411, have landed in Canada as Permanent Residents.
- There were 41,218 candidates in the Express Entry pool as of July 6, 2015.
Of the candidates still in the pool on July 6, 2015, 87 per cent were clustered around the 300-450 comprehensive ranking score. These candidates do not have LMIA, LMO or PNP nominations and are awaiting CIC to lower their scores for invitations.
Under Ottawa’s two-step skilled immigrant selection system, all applicants are screened to enter the pool and then ranked against each other to be invited to apply for permanent residency.
Long way to go in meeting 2015 target
The new system allows employers to be matched with qualified candidates in the pool through the federal government’s job bank and bring in the selected individuals with an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) — a certification to prove the position can’t be filled by a Canadian.
An applicant may earn a maximum of 1,200 points. An LMIA automatically earns applicants 600 points. The other 600 points are awarded for personal attributes such as education, language skills and work experience.
“Only the highest ranking candidates are invited to complete an application for permanent residence,” said the report, adding that Express Entry “increases the labour market responsiveness of the immigration system.”
In the first six months of the program, 11 rounds of invitations were held, with the cutoff scores ranging from a low of 453 to a high of 886. Some 70 per cent of people receiving an invitation had a score above 600 points, meaning the majority would be coming with an approved job offer.
Critics have argued that meeting the selection cutoff score and being invited does not necessarily mean the best candidates are chosen, as the new system favours those who have obtained the LMIA.
For instance, someone with a total score of 649 can actually be a weaker candidate than someone with 599 points who earned the score strictly from his or her personal attributes — rather than with the boost of 600 bonus points that comes from an approved job opportunity.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s six-month review, 112,701 candidate profiles were created as of July 6. Some 48,723 were deemed ineligible, and 6,441 were withdrawn.
Among the 41,218 active candidates remaining in the pool, more than half, or 27,000 people, had a score between 300 and 399. Only 355 had a score over 600; 51 had a score above 1,000. An immigration agency responding to the report noted “If Citizenship and Immigration Canada is to meet its target of 185,000 primary applicants in 2015, it has a very long way to go.”
'Millionaire visa' also not faring well
Last month, The Filipino Post reported that Canada’s ambitious pilot immigration program for attracting super millionaires have drawn a muted response. In the past six months, since the program started, there were only six applicants, which is nothing compared to the former investor class immigration program., media in Asia reported.
The latter was scrapped in 2014, amid criticism that it allowed wealthy Chinese to buy their way into Canada.
Referring to the poor response to the program named as "Immigrant Investor Venture Capital scheme," an immigration lawyer said “it is poorly designed." Richard Kurland, a Vancouver based immigration lawyer said he received this information when he filed an Access to Information request, seeking the data on the new immigration plan for the rich. The federal government had started accepting applications in January.
In December 2014, Canada announced that it was looking for 50 wealthy foreigners to join the pilot run of the IIIVC to attract applicants far richer than those who have already entered under the previous program. The previous Immigrant Investor Program was scrapped even while a huge backlog of applications were existing at Canada's Hong Kong consulate from mainland Chinese.
Kurland quipped that the revamped program will “wither on the vine and quietly go away” because of the low demand from would-be immigrants. He sees two reasons for it. One is the high price tag and second is the uncertainty about investment, reported the International Business Times.
Though the initial response is looking poor, an official at the Citizenship and Immigration department said, there is no question of the government reverting to the previous investor class visa. “We believe it is important to continue testing demand, because we know that the IIVC pilot program can deliver significant benefit to Canada," the official said.
The ambitious new program envisages would-be immigrants to invest a minimum of CA$2 million in Canada for a 15-year period. They must also have a net worth minimum of at least C$10 million. Other include their requirement to speak English or French.
Published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.