June 12, 2018
By Hugo O'Doherty
Citizens of India received 42 percent of all invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry selection system last year, new data reveals.
The total number of Indians invited in 2017 (36,310) was more than four times greater than the second-most invited nationality, China, which received nearly one-in-ten of all invitations.
Citizens of Nigeria, Pakistan, the UK, the US, Brazil, Iran, Ireland, and Australia have also fared well under the system, which ranks candidates for key economic immigration programs, and invites the highest-ranked candidates to apply for immigration to Canada.
Overall, a total of 86,022 invitations were issued in 2017 — a massive increase on the 33,782 issued in 2016, as Express Entry, first introduced in 2015, became the main driver of economic immigration to Canada. The figures were provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in an extensive new report published earlier this month.
As the table below shows, some top source countries have witnessed significant growth year-on-year in terms of how many citizens were invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Invitations by country of citizenship, 2016 to 2017
|Country||2016 rank||2017 rank||2016 number||2017 number||% difference|
Around two-thirds of invitations issued to Indians went to male candidates, a higher proportion than the general ratio of invitees, which settled at around 61 percent male to 39 percent female. Interestingly, among invitees from China, the Philippines and South Korea, more females than males were invited to apply.
Why these countries?
Canada does not favour particular immigration candidates based on nationality. This progressive policy, implemented decades ago, has helped to ensure that Canada can welcome the best and brightest newcomers, regardless of where they come from. As such, the Express Entry system may be viewed as a purely merit-based system, where candidates are rewarded under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for factors such as language ability, level of education, work experience, and age. These factors, together with existing ties to Canada through family, work or study, are used to determine a candidate’s potential for economic success in Canada.
While some candidates migrate directly from their home country, others are already in Canada on temporary status or moving from a third country. For some candidates, this may be their second, or even third or fourth, transnational move.
The data bears out this hypothesis. For example, the number of invitations issued to residents of the United States (5,820) was nearly three times greater than the number of invitations issued to US citizens (2,030, and it is likely that some of those US citizens were not resident in their home country when invited). A similar circumstance played out in the United Arab Emirates, which ranked fifth on the list of invitations issued by country of residence (2,458), but was nowhere to be seen on the list of top countries by country of citizenship.
Invitations by country of residence, 2016 to 2017
|Country||2016 rank||2017 rank||2016 number||2017 number||% difference|
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The Trump bump
While the IRCC report does not delve into the geopolitical nature of international migration, it is striking to note that during the previous year, 2016, more US citizens were invited than US residents — an opposite phenomenon to that of 2017. News reports suggest that reforms to US immigration policy by the Trump administration — both actual and mooted — have led many foreign workers on temporary status in the US to look north for a new place to build their careers. By and large, Canada has been happy to invite them in.
One particular US visa that has been in the crosshairs of that country’s president is the popular H-1B visa, which allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Fully 82 percent of all H-1B recipients in 2016 were from India or China. 85,000 H-1B visas are issued every year, while around 100,000 more are extended or re-issued. Moreover, the majority of workers admitted to the U.S. under the H-1B program are employed in tech-related occupations.
As the US administration bogs applicants down with bureaucracy and flirts with the idea of closing the program altogether — placing in jeopardy the plans of employers and workers alike — the government of Canada, and its provincial counterparts, practically rolled out the red carpet for tech workers. Some of the most popular destination provinces, including Ontario and BC, implemented strategies within their respective Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) to attract tech workers. For example, Ontario temporarily amended its popular Express Entry Human Capital Priorities stream to invite tech workers below a certain points threshold, while BC established a new Tech Pilot under the BC PNP, whereby candidates in any of 32 tech-related occupations are prioritized for settlement in BC.
Already here, just settling in . . .
The report shows that around half of all invited candidates were already resident in Canada, with nearly one-third of invitations going to candidates who completed studies in Canada. And what are the top source countries of international students over recent years? India and China, of course, with tens of thousands more coming from countries such as Brazil, Nigeria, and Iran, all of which have provided large numbers of Express Entry invitees thanks to a system that now rewards candidates with a Canadian degree, diploma or certificate more points than candidates who studied outside Canada.
Besides, graduates of Canadian universities and colleges can work in Canada upon graduation, and such work experience is itself highly valued under Express Entry.
Lastly, it should be noted that English is the most commonly spoken language in half of the top 10 source countries last year. Language ability is not only the most valuable human capital factor under the CRS, but it is also a factor where incremental gains can make a huge difference, thanks to the skills transferability factors. Moreover, candidates who grew up with everyday knowledge of English are more likely to be well-placed to find work in Canada. English ability, therefore, not only results in points for the factor itself, but also provides a leg up when it comes to finding employment. This in turn may help to secure a provincial nomination down the line.
Strong knowledge of English is a major advantage in Express Entry, as is strong knowledge of French. Indeed, candidates with French ability now receive bonus points as Canada looks to entice more francophones to locations outside Quebec, the only province that does not participate in Express Entry (you can read more about Quebec’s unique immigration system here).
For the first time ever since Express Entry was first launched in January, 2015, more invitations were issued to candidates residing outside Canada than inside Canada, with 51 percent of all invitations in 2017 issued to candidates abroad. In 2016, just over a third of invitations (36 percent) were sent abroad.
That is not to say, however, that candidates in Canada suffered in any way, as it should be remembered that the overall number of invitations skyrocketed year-on-year. The number of invitations issued to candidates in Canada nearly doubled, from 23,293 in 2016 to 42,184 last year.
India and the United States were among many popular source countries whose residents received invitations in record numbers in 2017.
About Express Entry
Express Entry is Canada’s flagship application management system for key economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Class, the Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.
Potential candidates express their interest in immigrating to Canada by first completing an online Express Entry profile. The profile is electronically screened to determine if the candidate meets the criteria of at least one of the programs mentioned above. Using the same information, candidates are given a CRS score. Candidates are then placed in the Express Entry pool and ranked relative to each other based on their CRS scores. The pool is dynamic, and a candidate’s rank can change as other candidates join and leave the pool, or when the ranking criteria are adjusted, as they were in late 2016 and again in June 2017.
Candidates are invited to apply on a priority basis when IRCC conducts an Express Entry draw, which typically occurs a couple of times per month. Draws may involve all programs, or be program-specific in determining who may be invited. Invited candidates have 90 days to submit a complete application, and from this point IRCC aims to process applications within six months (update: on June 26, 2018 IRCC announced that the application deadline had been reduced to 60 days).
Throughout 2018 and beyond, Canada is scheduled to invite even more candidates to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry. The multi-year Immigration Levels Plan, published in late 2017, calls for Canada to admit around 250,000 newcomers through the FSW, FST and CEC programs by the end of 2020, as well as a further 185,000 or so through the PNPs.
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