Canada holds two Express Entry within five days

Two new Express Entry draws occurred in less than a week.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held an Express Entry draw inviting 3,232 to apply for permanent residence yesterday, five days after sending out 668 invitations to candidates with provincial nominations last Friday.

The March 23 draw exclusively invited Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates with a minimum required Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) of 467.

The March 18 Express Entry draw, on the other hand, specifically targeted Provincial Nominee candidates. The minimum required CRS for that draw was 720.

Canada has issued 22, 600 invitations to apply (ITA’s) and held seven Express Entry draws so far this year.

The fact that IRCC held two draws so close together illustrates Canada’s commitment to meeting the immigration targets announced in the 2020-2022 immigration levels plan, despite the special measures put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite coronavirus, Canada needs immigrants

Last week Canada announced its 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan as the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis was escalating.
Indeed, the announcement was overshadowed by the major economic and social turmoil that the coronavirus is having in Canada and abroad.

Here at home, Canada, just like most countries, appears headed towards a recession. COVID-19 has led to a price war between major oil producers globally, and the collapsing price of oil will have negative ramifications for Canada’s economy.

Moreover, weakened economic activity will hurt nearly every sector with certain ones in particular such as tourism and hospitality bearing significant blows.

To stymie the blows, the Bank of Canada announced an emergency cut to its overnight interest rate, just one week after it had already cut the rate. They may not be done, as some analysts forecast more cuts may be needed to help Canada’s economy weather the storm.

Overseas, we have seen the likes of states of emergency, travel bans, and other exceptional events such as stock market crashes.

Why 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan makes sense despite COVID-19

As such chaos engulfs the world, it is understandable that Canada’s decision to welcome over one million additional immigrants over the next three years is not the focus of attention at the moment.

Nonetheless, the COVID-19 crisis can help us understand why immigration will be so crucial to Canada’s economy moving forward.

Yes, Canada’s economy looks set to contract in 2020. As such, one could make the argument that increasing immigration at this moment is not ideal since newcomers will be arriving in Canada at a time when the labour market will struggle to absorb them.

However, current events serve as a reminder that Canada’s immigration policies are largely proactive in nature, and since the late 1980s, the decision of the number of immigrants to welcome has been largely detached from economic conditions on the ground.

While Canada welcomes immigrants to help fill immediate job vacancies, its immigration policies are also meant to strengthen the country’s economic standing years and decades from now. This means that even if newcomers arrive during an economic downturn, Canada expects the same newcomers to be catalysts for economic growth in the future.

A major reason for this is that all of Canada’s nine million baby boomers will reach retirement age by the end of this decade. Since Canada has a low birth rate, it is relying on immigration to drive the majority of its labour force growth.

Labour force growth is one of two ways to grow the economy, with the other way being to use the labour force more productively.

Hence, it still makes sense to admit high levels of newcomers even during periods of economic distress. While immigrants arriving in Canada in 2020 may face more difficulties than usual in finding work that aligns with their skills, education, and work experience, they will soon face the prospects of working in a country where the supply of labour will be significantly constrained as more baby boomers leave the workforce. This means that such immigrants will likely see more employers competing for their services, which would result in much better employment outcomes and salaries.

“Tap on, tap off” turned off in late 1980s

The proactive measure of welcoming high levels of newcomers even during recessions is a fairly new one in Canadian history.

Up until the late 1980s, Canada utilized a “tap on, tap off” approach to immigration levels. It welcomed higher levels of newcomers when the economy was strong, and reduced immigration during recessions. However, it moved away from this approach in the late 1980s after determining it needed to sustain high levels of immigration to alleviate the economic and fiscal strain that was soon to come due to its rapidly aging population and low birth rate. Since then, Canada has maintained high levels even during several recessions including the major one that occurred in 2008-09.

It can also be argued that a short-term benefit of welcoming immigrants during periods such as what Canada is experiencing today still helps the economy in the short-run since newcomers will help to stimulate demand in Canada through the purchase of goods and services which will help to relieve some of the economic stress being caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Announcing an ambitious immigration levels plan during such a crisis may not have appeared to be ideal timing on the surface, however, in practice, the timing of the announcement will prove immaterial.

Today’s higher immigration levels, even though we are experiencing a coronavirus crisis and economic pain, will result in greener economic pastures tomorrow as the influx of newcomers contributes to Canada’s economy as workers, consumers, and taxpayers.

Two Ontario Employer Job Offer streams open and close on same day

Ontario opened applications for two streams under its Employer Job Offer category, yesterday. After experiencing technical difficulties and a short application period, both streams have reached their intake limit and have been closed.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) Employer Job Offer category allows immigrants with a job offer to apply for a provincial nomination for Canadian permanent residence. They can apply in Canada or from abroad, as long as they have been hired for a permanent position with an Ontario employer.

On March 3, the OINP released a statement opening up applications to the International Student Stream. Intake was quickly paused due to “technical issues,” according to the OINP webpage.

It was later re-opened along with the Foreign Worker Stream, but shortly after applications to both streams had reached their intake limits and were closed.

The OINP said they received 1,322 successful registrations during the application intake window. Those who were successfully registered and received a file number have 14 days to submit an application, which takes about three hours on the OINP web portal.

“Demand for the streams was extremely high, so not all who wished to register were able to do so,” a representative from the OINP wrote CIC News in an email. “The OINP will continue to monitor intake of applications across all streams to determine when the Employer Job Offer: International Student and Foreign Worker streams will reopen in 2020.”

For now, applications to these two streams remain closed until further notice.

Applications are open to those who are eligible for the In-Demand Skills Stream under Ontario’s Employer Job Offer category.

Immigrating to work in Ontario
There are three streams under Ontario’s Employer Job Offer category:

Foreign Worker Stream, where applicants need a job offer in a skilled occupation with a National Occupation Classification (NOC) code type 0, A, or B.
International Student Stream, where eligible international student graduates require a job offer in a skilled occupation.
In-Demand Skills Stream, for international workers who have job offers in certain in-demand occupations.
However, the Employer Job Offer category is not the only option for foreigners who want to immigrate to Ontario.

The OINP Human Capital Category does not necessarily require candidates to have a job offer in the province. It includes sub-categories for both international student graduates and foreign workers.

Workers who are eligible for a federal Express Entry-managed program may be able to immigrate to Ontario through one of three streams:

Ontario Express Entry: Human Capital Priorities Stream, a pathway for candidates who qualify for the Canadian Experience Class, or the Federal Skilled Worker Program. They must also meet certain work experience, study, and language requirements.
Ontario Express Entry: French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream, bilingual candidates with skilled work experience may be invited to apply for a provincial nomination under this stream.
Ontario Express Entry: Skilled Trades Stream, for candidates in the Federal Skilled Trades Program who have ongoing or recent experience working in the province.
Ontario’s International Graduate Streams include options for Masters and PhD graduates.

Masters Graduate Stream, international students who graduated with a master’s degree from an eligible Ontario institution may be able to apply for immigration to the province without a job offer. This stream is currently not accepting applications.
PhD Graduate Stream, those who obtained their PhD from an eligible Ontario university may be eligible for a provincial nomination without a job offer. Applications are currently open for this stream.

Canada invites 3,400 Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence

Canada has issued 3,400 invitations to apply for permanent residence to Express Entry candidates.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held this year’s second selection round on January 22.

Invitations were issued to Express Entry candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of at least 471.

Ontario wants to double nominations for permanent residence by 2022

Ontario is looking to double the number of immigration candidates it can nominate for Canadian permanent residence through Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program. 

The province would like to increase its allocation under the Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP, from 6,650 this year to 13,300 in 2022.

Ontario’s Immigration Minister, Vic Fedeli, formally requested the increase in a letter sent recently to his new federal counterpart, Marco Mendicino.

The federally managed PNP allows participating provinces and territories to nominate a set number of Economic-Class immigration candidates each year for Canadian permanent residence.

Each province’s allocation under the PNP is set in accordance with the program’s annual admissions targets, which are established by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The PNP’s admissions target for this year is 61,000 new permanent residents, which is an increase of 6,000 over the 2018 target of 55,000.

The admissions target for the PNP in 2020 is 67,800.

Recent years have seen Ontario’s component of the PNP, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), receive the largest allocation among participating provinces and territories.

In 2019, that was 6,650 nominations, which was an increase of only 50 over the year before. An additional 700 nominations granted last week brought its 2019 allocation to 7,350.

Allocation falling short of labour needs

In an email statement to CIC News, the OINP said its allocation over the past several years has fallen short of actual labour needs in the province.

“Employers continue to express significant frustration that the limited number of nominations has hindered their efforts to hire foreign talent, which ultimately impacts the growth and sustainability of their businesses,” the statement reads.

The OINP said the letter sent to Mendicino proposes the “collaborative development of a multi-year planning process” with the goal of doubling the OINP’s allocation to 13,300 by 2022.

“We are awaiting a response from the federal government,” the statement reads.

The OINP said it is also exploring ways “to exercise greater autonomy and control over the selection of immigrants to the province.”

The OINP did not comment on how the additional OINP nominations would be distributed among its nine existing immigration streams or what percentage would be dedicated to the three pathways aligned with the federal Express Entry system.

One of these streams, the Human Capital Priorities Stream, has been used this year to address targeted labour needs in Ontario’s IT sector.

The OINP also did not say how an increased allocation would benefit the proposed Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot, which could launch in early 2020 and will focus on attracting immigrants to smaller communities in the province.

Feds say new pilots will help fill gaps

A statement from Mendicino’s press secretary, Mathieu Genest, said collaboration is central to IRCC’s approach to immigration levels planning, which provides for an additional 27,000 admissions through the PNP over the coming years.

“We understand that provinces and territories play an important role in attracting and retaining newcomers to help grow our economy,” Genest said.

“We have consulted with provinces and territories to ensure that the levels plan meets their requirements to fill labour shortages and attract needed talent.”

Genest also pointed to the proposed Municipal Nominee Program for smaller municipalities and a new federal immigration pilot that will bring in additional immigrants to rural and remote communities in Ontario and Canada’s western provinces and territories.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot counts five Ontario communities among the 11 taking part in the program, which has an annual cap of 2,750 applicants plus their dependents.

Provincial push for more immigration control

Ontario’s push for new immigration powers follows recent overtures from the Government of Saskatchewan for greater control over immigration to that province.

Saskatchewan has set a population target of 1.4 million residents by 2030 and is planning for economic growth that could add 100,000 jobs over that time period.

Increased immigration is considered vital to these plans and the province’s Immigration Minister, Jeremy Harrison, has written Mendicino to request formal negotiations.

Currently, Quebec is the only Canadian province that has successfully negotiated a greater degree of control over immigration with the federal government.

The 1991 Canada-Quebec Accord grants Quebec full control over the selection of Economic-Class immigrants, among other powers.