Canadian employers who’ve been unable to fill certain jobs should turn to Express Entry, the new federal immigration program that gives highly skilled immigrants an accelerated path to permanent residence in the country.
Chris Alexander, federal minister of citizenship and immigration, delivered this message on Friday afternoon in Toronto at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Canada.
“If you can’t find a Canadian to do the job, you can come to us and apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment and recruit someone through Express Entry to come as an immigrant,” Alexander said, adding that employers need to include Express Entry in their HR strategies.
While it can be tedious to go through the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to prove no Canadian citizen or permanent resident was available for the position, employers will get access to a “higher caliber of immigrant,” he said.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) launched Express Entry this January. There are no caps on the number of applicants who can complete online profiles about their age, education, language skills and work experience.
The highest-ranking applicants who meet the criteria for one of the federal economic immigration programs—the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program—get into the Express Entry pool. These applicants then receive an invitation from CIC to apply for permanent residence.
Since January, 11,000 invitations have been sent under the program, Alexander said.
In 80% of the cases, it takes up to six months to process permanent residence applications from Express Entry candidates, according to CIC.
The program runs parallel to the traditional permanent residence program, which takes 12 to 14 months to process applications.
CIC expects most economic immigrants will come through Express Entry by 2017.
Bad for foreign students
While the Conservative government has touted Express Entry as a success, the program has its critics.
One of the problems with it, they charge, is that it hurts international students who have graduated from a Canadian institution and have some Canadian work experience.
The program essentially forces them to obtain a LMIA because acceptance into the Express Entry pool is based on points, critics note.
A LMIA is not required to qualify for Express Entry, but having one gives an applicant 600 points, out of a maximum of 1,200. At the same time, few points are awarded for having Canadian work experience, so to qualify, applicants need a LMIA.
At the Toronto event, Alexander downplayed criticism about the importance of a LMIA. “That was more at the beginning,” he said. “Not all have adapted to this new system and seen the benefits.”