Permanent Resident Lawyers Seeing Delays for Foreign Students

Under the New System, Students Seeking Immigration to Canada are Suffering Unintended Consequences

The Express Entry system was introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with the goal of fast tracking the process of obtaining permanent residency in Canada. But for some–namely foreign nationals who have come to Canada to attend school–this has not been the case. Instead, permanent resident lawyers are seeing that these foreign students are experiencing some unintended consequences.

As permanent resident lawyers know, many immigrants from countries all over the world come to Canada to obtain an education, often with the hope of putting their skills to use in the Canadian workforce, and eventually becoming a permanent resident. Under Canada’s previous immigration policy, this path was clear-cut; but with Express Entry, this is no longer the case.

Before Express Entry, once a foreign student completed their study term, they could apply for a “post-graduate open work permit” allowing them to work anywhere in Canada. Once they had worked in a professional occupation for one full year, gaining valuable work experience, they were able to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class, as long as the other requirements of the program were met. After a few months, this applicant would be approved to convert to a “bridging open work permit” until their permanent residency was finalized. Additionally, if for some reason this foreign student did not file for permanent residency during the course of their work permit, their employer could file for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) with reduced criteria, since this student was most likely only working an entry level position.

This system provided foreign students with several options for immigration to Canada following their studies, and also gave employers the opportunity to retain their employees. Under Express Entry, it has become more difficult for these same foreign students to qualify for the LMIA, making the path to permanent residency much harder to navigate. Since most of these students have low points totals in the LMIA pool, due to an easily-explained lack of experience, they’re put at a clear disadvantage in an Express Entry draw.

While this system may level the playing field and expedite the permanent residency process among experienced professionals vying for a position in the Canadian job market, it puts students at a clear disadvantage. Permanent resident lawyers agree that this system does not allow for the transparency required to demonstrate the skills that these students acquired by attending a Canadian institution; it simply assigns a number of points and holds them to the same standards as other foreign nationals with more experience.

If you are a foreign student whose permanent residency application process has been affected by the new Express Entry system, contact a permanent resident lawyer today.