Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) promised to make the first draw from the Express Entry pool by the end of January.
Well, they just made their own deadline. 14 seconds before midnight, January 31st, CIC sent Invitations to Apply (ITA) to 779 lucky Express Entry applicants.
You read that right. 779. And yet, the government plans to give out 65,000 ITAs in 2015.
The lowest score of those accepted? 889 points out of a possible 1200. Since 600 points are awarded for applicants who have a government approved job offer or a provincial nomination, which means every single one of those 779 people had already been assured of an ITA.
People who have completed an Express Entry profile who do not have a job offer must be feeling bitter. Many of them are people who came to study and have the one year of work experience to qualify for the Canada Experience Class (CEC). Previously, this would have been enough to be offered permanent residency. But now, their employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order for them to get the extra 600 points to be guaranteed an ITA. The LMIA process is expensive and creates a great deal of administrative work for the employer. Many simply won’t be willing to do this for an entry level employee.
For those who submitted their CEC applications before January 1st, there is bad news as well. Immigration practitioners were closely monitoring the CEC quota cap as the year ended. Unfortunately, we could only rely on the CIC website to know how many CEC applications they had accepted. By the end of December, that website still made it appear that the quota had not yet been reached.
However, CEC applicants are starting to have their applications returned. The letter they are receiving states the following:
CIC reached its cap of 8,000 applications in the CEC category for the period May 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. Due to the large number of applications we received, we were not able to check that each application was complete on the same date that it arrived at the Central Intake Office. Because of the large number of applications submitted, we were still checking applications received in October, 2014 when we determined that we reached the cap in January, 2015. The webpage on the CIC website where we indicated the number of applications received and counted officially against the overall cap at a given point in time was updated regularly but was only meant as a guide. In the list of applications received, we could not include pending applications that were complete but had not been verified yet in the total due to legal reasons. There was no guarantee that an application sent before January 1, 2015 would fall within the cap by the time it arrived at the CIO. Therefore, applications received after October 20, 2014 will be returned to the applicants with the unprocessed fees. New CEC applications must go through the Express Entry online process.
If I were a Canadian college or university that relies on the tuition fees of international students, I’d be worried. When the news gets out about how CEC applicants are being treated, parents are going to choose to send their sons and daughters to schools in other countries, ones that make it easier for them to stay permanently after graduation.