The Economic Class programs are no longer ‘first come first serve.’ CIC has created a new process, ‘Express Entry’, to manage the applications for Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Class.
Express Entry is a fairly complex points system which ranks qualified candidates from the above three programs.
There is no initial application fee.
CIC pulls the highest ranking candidates from the pool of registered candidates periodically throughout the year. If you are picked you receive an ‘Invitation to Apply’ (or ITA).
The allocation of 1200 points is complicated however, in this post, I’ll highlight those areas that are essential to reach a score high enough to get an ITA.
There is a strong bias for candidates who have arranged employment or are successful provincial nominee candidates. Either of these will add a whopping 600 points to your score!
Arranged employment requires a full-time, permanent job offer in Canada with an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). The LMIA is mandatory to score for arranged employment, even if you are within a work permit exempt category, such as NAFTA.
On the upside, there is no charge to employers for an LMIA when a candidate is applying to the Express Entry pool, since all three programs involve applications for permanent residence.
You should have a look at various provincial nominee programs as well. Successful candidates of provincial nominee programs are also awarded an extra 600 points. You must live in the province you apply to, for a period of time, but contractual obligations vary. There are some excellent programs worth pursuing.
Check out the provincial websites for their immigration programs, as these are not handled by CIC.
If you don’t have a job offer, you must also register with ESDC’s Job Bank job match program. Since there is such a strong bias towards those with arranged employment, it’s advisable to actively conduct a job search, contact recruiters, etc., to increase your chances of getting arranged employment and being selected from the Express Entry pool.
Points are also given for post-secondary education, language test scores of CLB 7 and above, and work experience. Extra points are given for at least 2 years work experience in Canada. If you happen to be between the ages of 20 and 29 years old, you’ll score extra points as well.
The downside of this Express Entry process management system is the lack of transparency.
CIC does not publicize the ranking of candidates who are ‘Invited to Apply’ so put your best foot forward when you apply. You are able to update your Express Entry profile with a newly attained education credential assessment or a higher score on a language test.
Most importantly, ensure your application is complete and completed correctly, showing all you have accomplished and achieved to enhance your chance of being selected and immigrating to Canada.
If you provide an email address in your application form, you are allowing CIC to communicate with you by email.
Generally speaking email is a great thing for any immigration application. Email is instant, and letters from CIC can take days to weeks depending on which country you are in.
However, what happens if an email message gets lost in the web? What if it fails to deliver?
There have been some devastating cases of this happening. An applicant is patiently waiting for CIC to respond to an application. One day they receive an email (or a letter) saying the application was rejected because the applicant failed to respond to previous requests for information.
Requests that were never received from CIC.
Thankfully a recent court case decided in February of this year – Asoyan v. Canada – has summarized the law on email communication between CIC and applicants.
In that case, Ms. Asoyan applied for permanent residence in November of 2012. CIC sent her an email in February of 2013 asking for updated forms to fill-in some gaps in information. Ms. Asoyan had 30 days to comply.
She didn’t receive that email.
In March of 2013 she requested an Acknowledgement of Receipt. CIC emailed this in the same month.
She didn’t receive that email, either.
In November of 2013 she did receive an email from CIC – a refusal of her application! CIC stated she had not provide the information and as a result, her application was rejected.
Even after two requests for a reconsideration, CIC refused her application.
The issue the court dealt with was if the visa officer failed to provide Ms. Asoyan with proper notice and a meaningful opportunity to respond to the request for information.
The court found that the visa officer did not provide such an opportunity.
The court stated that CIC can presume an email has been sent to an email address provided by the applicant (which has not been revoked or revised), and where there has been no indication that the email may have failed.
Recall that in this case, Ms. Asoyan emailed in March 2013 asking for an Acknowledgement of Receipt. The court found that this was an indication to CIC that she had not received the February 2013 request for information. As a result, CIC should have made enquiries to ensure Ms. Aroyan had received that February 2013 email.
The court also stated that it would be “unduly harsh” to place the responsibility for failed emails on applicants, especially when CIC had no process to ensure emails had been received.
The court accepts the general fact that there is no way to reliably determine if an email has been delivered (as opposed to a fax message for example, where the fax machine can confirm the message was received).
The court also accepts that unlawful hacking and email interception are unfortunate facts of life, which undermines the reliability of email communication.
Given this state of affairs, the court states that CIC should exhaust all “reasonable mechanisms” available to ensure email is received (such as asking the applicant to acknowledge the email was received). The court decided CIC’s email protocol was not sufficient and thus not fair to Ms. Aroyan. The court allowed Ms. Aroyan’s appeal.
What you can do when CIC sends you email
How can you protect yourself against lost emails from CIC?
Based on the above case, you should do the following:
- Check your spam or junk email box, and don’t have it set to automatically delete contents.
- If you don’t receive a communication from CIC in a timely manner, email them and ask for an update, stating you have not received any communication (and save a copy of that email!). This will give CIC the message that any email they send failed to reach you.
- Write a letter (and keep a copy) stating you have not received communication from CIC.
- If you are rejected, ask for a reconsideration and state that no emails from CIC were received. Refer to the court case described in this blog that the onus of proof lies with CIC, and provide copies of the emails you sent to CIC asking for an update. Those emails gave CIC notice that you did not receive a communication from them.
What you can do when you send CIC email
How can you ensure that your email reaches CIC? Remember, now the onus is on you to ensure it is received.
- Be careful to send the email to the correct CIC address.
- Check to see if that the email was actually sent properly.
- Ensure there was no “bounce back” or other indication that the email didn’t get received.
- Ask CIC to acknowledge receipt of the email. In my experience, CIC rarely acknowledges receipt, but it is important to include it in your email in case you end up in court one day.
- After a certain amount of time, send the email again if you didn’t get an acknowledgement of receipt, and state that you are sending it because you haven’t heard from CIC.
In all cases, it is important not to bombard CIC with email messages – this can be annoying to visa officers and perhaps be detrimental to your application. Only send communications after a certain amount of time passes when you expected to hear from CIC and haven’t.
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If you are facing removal from Canada, all is not lost. CIC will likely notify you about a process where you can remain in Canada.
PRRA (or Pre-Removal Risk Assessment) is a process available to those facing removal from Canada. Don’t know if you qualify? If you do qualify you’ll receive a notification letter – but be ready to act quickly when you receive notice from CIC.
PRRA is designed for those facing removal from Canada, but who do not pose a risk to the Canadian public.
You’ll need to prove that if you are sent back to your country of origin, you will be persecuted. The onus of proof lies on you, and the most common application follows the same five main criteria as a refugee application: well-founded fear, persecution, UN Convention Refugee categories, state protection and internal flight alternative.
If you were forced to return to your country of origin you would be personally afraid for your life. You must also prove that other international organizations have documented similar accounts of persecution in your country of origin.
Persecution is a threat to life or freedom. There must be repeated incidents of persecution, leading to a genuine fear of death or continued persecution.
Your persecution must fit into 1 of the following 5 UN Convention Refugee categories (“Nexus”):
- Race/Ethnicity- includes race, colour, descent, and national, tribal, clan or ethnic origin
- Religion- Right to personal beliefs and spiritual practice
- Nationality- Citizenship or membership to an ethnic or linguistic group
- Political Opinion-Freedom of opinion and expression
- Membership in a Particular Social Group:
Note that “group” is defined by innate or unchangeable characteristics, orwhose members voluntarily associate for reasons so fundamental to their human dignity they ought not be forced to forsake this association (human rights activists for example).
Membership in a “group” can also include former involuntary status unalterable due to its historical permanence. One example might be if you are a member of a political group, always you are always considered a member.
Did you approach your government in your country for protection? If not, why not? A request for protection is not required, but an explanation of why the government in your country of origin will not protect you is required.
Internal Flight Alternative
There must be no safe place for you in your country of origin.
You may stay in Canada while you await this PRRA decision, and you may apply for a work permit (or an extension as the case may be) while your application is in process.
But you must not leave Canada until a final decision is made. If you leave Canada, prior to a final decision, you may not be allowed to re-enter.
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It’s a smart move. Not only do you get to experience Canadian culture, but it can set you up for a post-graduation work visa, and eventually permanent residence in Canada.
Even if permanent residence is not your current goal, after studying here, you may wish to stay indefinitely.
However, the student permit rules have changed recently and I’ve summarized the key aspects below.
Note that a study permit is only required for a program over 6 months in length. However, it’s a good idea to get a study permit no matter the length of the program, in case you want to continue studying while you’re here beyond the six month period.
You have to study while you’re here
Previously, you could get a study permit but not necessarily follow through with your study plan.
Now, you have to remain enrolled in your school and make reasonable progress towards completing your study program. CIC will get information on your status from your educational institution, so they will know what you are up to.
If you don’t remain enrolled (and progress – very important – you can’t linger in a program), you might be removed from Canada. Not good. So if you come here to study, do just that.
You can only attend certain educational institutions
CIC rules on which institutions you could – and could not – attend have changed over the years.
Now, you must only attend a designated learning institution. Note that this applies only to post-secondary education. Elementary and high schools are all acceptable.
You’ll need the number of you college or university in order to apply – you’ll find in the link in the previous paragraph.
You have to pay your way and be healthy
This rule hasn’t changed: you have to show you (or your parents) have enough money to cover tuition fees, living expenses while you’re here, and travel expenses to get back to your country of origin.
If you’re from certain countries (or you’ve lived or traveled in certain countries) for 6 months or more, you might need a medical as well. Click here for the list of countries where a medical might be needed.
You can now work off campus
This is a big change. You can work off campus without a work permit for 20 hours per week during classes, and full-time when school breaks. If you’re studying English (or French) as a second language, then you won’t be able to work off campus. You would need a work permit in order to work in Canada.
You can work in a co-op / internship program
Co-op or internship programs are fine, so long as they are an essential part of your training program. However, you do need a co-op work permit (apart from your study permit) to participate.
Studying English (or French) as a second language won’t let you work in a co-op or internship.
You might be able to apply for a study permit from within Canada
Certain individuals can apply for a work permit from within Canada, including:
- Minor children studying at an elementary, middle or high school
- Exchange students and some visiting students
- Students who completed a short course that is a condition for acceptance at a designated learning institution
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