It seems like every time I’ve finally wrapped my brain around the current immigration system, the Canadian government decides to tinker with the process some more. So it was with this year’s Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, presented on October 28th.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, reported that Canada plans to welcome 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2014 with an increased intake of immigrants in the “economic” classes; up to almost one third of the overall total. It’s great news for people applying through the PNP and Canadian Experience categories as their intake numbers will be up next year.
Also announced was a brand new scheme which will come into force from 2015: Expressions of Interest or EOI. Rather than sending in a fully-fledged immigration application, you will instead “express your interest” in moving to Canada, hence the name. At this initial stage, applicants will provide information on their skills and experience. This information will then be stored and ranked against that of other candidates. Only the best candidates will be invited to apply for a visa; “best” being defined as those candidates whose skills and experience most closely match current labour market needs in Canada.
On the surface at least, this sounds like a sensible scheme. Immigrants who arrive here with a pre-arranged job offer can expect financial stability and a much easier transition than arriving here without work. For so long there have been too many stories of well-qualified immigrants forced into taking jobs as cleaners, taxi drivers etc. Maybe this new scheme can start to change that.
The potential downside is that applicants (or “expressors of interest”?—they need to work on that one) could be left in limbo in “the pool” for a long time, wondering if their application will be picked up or eventually kicked off the list. It sounds a bit like the old “we’ll keep your resume on file and contact you if anything suitable comes up” brush-off. With the current system, at least (eventually) you’ll get a definite yes or no.
Of course it’s too early to really dissect this when we have so few details. Will EOI replace all of the existing economic immigration streams or just some of them? Will it apply in Quebec too? We don’t yet know. But regardless, the introduction of this scheme is indicative of the increased emphasis on matching immigrants’ job skills with regional labour market demands. The government’s message to prospective immigrants is clear: it’s time to think outside of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Be prepared for more changes ahead.