Canada’s New Immigration Policy Getting Tough For Foreign Students

Canada’s new immigration policy, no matter how innovative it looks, is a visible deterrent to the international workforce.

The new Express Entry Program, which came into effect on January 1, 2015 puts the international students in a difficult situation, not to mention the increased pressure.

Under the Express Entry Program of canada, a potential candidate completes an online express entry profile, where they mention about their skills, work experience, language ability, education and other relevant details supporting their overall assessment.

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The problem lies in the significance given to a certificate called the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which the federal government denies.

As per a standard scoring system, each potential candidates are ranked against each other to qualify for an invitation to apply for permanent residency. Then, the qualified candidate can apply again under three federal economic immigration program such as Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program and Canadian Experience Class.

The invited candidates shall be given exactly 60 days to apply for permanent residency. Those candidates who failed to secure the cut off shall remain in the pool for another six months. The program aims to make 15-25 draws in 2015.

The Express Entry is based on points in which a prospective candidate needs to secure a specific cut off out of 1,200 points. The real trouble begins when the scoring happens. The required cut off points are difficult to secure. The cut off points were first 886, then dropped to 735 points. But the real catch is if a candidate applies for Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), then he/she straightaway receives 600 points. It is a necessity as Express Entry Program requires a job offer in hand to be eligible for the pool. Therefore, a candidate must apply for LMIA.

The scholars say their once provided awards in the form of  Canadian education credentials and post-graduate work experience have little to no value or negligible under the new Express Entry program.

Though government officials maintain that under the Express Entry Program, one doesn’t require LMIA, but the conditions laid out in the Express Entry Program mandates the candidate to seek out a job offer before he/she intends to be part of the Express Entry process. A job offer and a provincial or territorial nomination can provide a big advantage to score.

The LMIA is created to protect Canada’s own domestic workforce. It will ensure that the permanent residents have the first opportunity to get access of the job. Nevertheless, LMIA is a difficult thing to get. It’s time consuming, strenuous and not to mention a complicated process for the employers. When potential employers are looking for an opportunity to decline a job application, it further aggravates the situation. It’s outright balderdash as no employer would be interested in advertising for a possible position in the job market when they already have done the recruitment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chris Alexander, Immigration Minister remains hopeful about the current status quo, “The fact that everyone who was invited to apply for permanent residence in this round of invitations already has valid job offers, or provincial nominations, shows that Express Entry is working to fill Canada’s existing labour market gaps.” But many civil society members have lambasted the federal policy, calling it as ridiculous and flawed. Jonathan Champagne, Director, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said, “The perception is Canada is making it more difficult for them. There’s no more real advantage with their Canadian education. Canada could be losing out to other countries in attracting international students.” Even the scholars maintain that the Canadian Education Credentials and Postgraduate Work Experience which, previously, was of immense value to them now remains obscured under the new Express Entry Program.

The set of people who stand immune to the new immigration policy are international graduates of Canadian schools, foreign workers covered under international agreements, employees transferred within the company, academicians and religious workers.

An online petition has been filed with 5500 signatures on it. The petitioners have requested the federal government to scrap the LMIA requirements. The petition puts forward the argument that the prospective candidates have the requisite skills to be automatically qualified for the job.

Apart from that Canada is on the verge of an ageing population. A younger workforce will definitely boost Canada’s economy as there is a high possibility for new ventures popping up. It stresses that 290,000 foreign students in Canada pumped USD 8 billion into its economy. The petition also claims that though many prospective students have a full time job under the Post Graduate Work Experience, they didn’t receive Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) led employment points.

Before it becomes a big blow to the Canadian economy, the government must revisit its immigration policy. There is a wide consensus among different civil society groups in Canada.

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