Adventures in Express Entry Land

January 2015

11:59 am January 1, 2015.  Cup of tea by my side.  Two client files on my desk.  Waiting for Express Entry to open at noon…

All the sensible lawyers had closed their offices for the week, and here I was, waiting for the minute the program opened so I could get Express Entry profiles created for my clients.

I wanted to see when the website would crash.  I had a bet with another lawyer.  (One of those sensible ones taking holidays.)

I lost the bet.  The website didn’t crash.  I successfully had the two profiles created by the end of the afternoon.

But that didn’t mean the process went smoothly.  The system “timed-out” on me when I was in the middle of typing.  It took forever for the screens to load.  The drop-down menus were very sensitive – one little slip of the mouse and you had your client living in Columbia instead of Canada.  There was no summary you could look over at the end – you had to go through every screen again in order to double-check what you’d entered.  And then I got to this section: 

I agree that by submitting this application, I am electronically signing the application.  I  (enter name), solemnly declare that the information I have provided is true and that the documents I am submitting in support of my application are genuine and have not been altered in any way.

 Whose name do I put? Mine or the client’s? 

Systematic issues also became apparent.  One of the clients for whom I was creating a profile was an international student on a post-graduate work permit.  He is currently working in a permanent position for a Canadian company.  There was no way to indicate in his profile that he had a job offer from this company.  Since he has an open post-graduate work permit, there is no employer listed on his work permit, nor was there a National Occupational Classification (NOC) number of the work permit.  This was because his work permit had not been supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).  Without the NOC or LMIA numbers, I could not complete this section.  Since he did not have a “job offer,” his profile couldn’t be completed until he registered with the Job Bank.  Why should he register with the Job Bank when he has a permanent position with a Canadian company?  He did the registration, but his profile still says “update not submitted”.

Then, there was this section at the end:

The information you provided on this form is collected under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to determine if you may be admitted to Canada. It will be stored in Personal Information Banks (PPU 042 entitled Immigrant Case File and PPU 009 entitled Refugee Claim in Canada Case File and PPU 053 entitled Permanent Resident Data System) CIC. The information may be shared with other Canadian government institutions such as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and foreign governments in accordance with subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act. Information may also be disclosed to foreign governments, law enforcement bodies and detaining authorities with respect to the administration and enforcement of immigration legislation where such sharing of information may not put the individual and/or his/her family at risk.  Information may also be systematically validated by other Canadian government institutions under the terms of an agreement or arrangement for the purposes of validating status and identity to administer their programs. In accordance with the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act, individuals have a right to access, correction and protection of their personal information. Details on these matters are available at the Info Source website and through Citizenship and Immigration Call Centre.

Please select … 

“I agree” was the only option available. 

In order to immigrate to Canada you need to give up of your privacy rights?  They will share information with the police and border services?  And with foreign governments?  And “I agree” is the only option?  At least they will only share information “where such sharing of information may not put the individual and/or his/her family at risk.”  That’s some comfort, though the use of the phrase “may not” makes me nervous.

But all of this isn’t what concerns me the most about Express Entry.  Express Entry will fundamentally change how people immigrate to Canada.  Just because you meet the eligibility criteria does not mean you will be accepted.  Without an “approved job offer,” applicants are unlikely to be accepted, as they will not have enough points to be selected from the Express Entry pool.

What about a young female international graduate, whose employer won’t complete a Labour Market Impact Assessment for her position unless she “returns the favour,” in ways we all can imagine might be asked?

What about the foreign applicant, whose potential employer checks out their LinkedIn profile to confirm the colour of their skin?

The old system wasn’t perfect.  Too many skilled applicants found they arrived in Canada, unable to find work in their field, and ended up with dreams dashed.

But this new system worries me more.  It is ripe for the potential of exploitation; whether from Canadian employers, or from “consultants” who will charge outrageous sums to set people up with phony employment offers, and even from the Citizenship and Immigration website, which has been incorrectly evaluating potential applicants, telling them they aren’t qualified when they are. 

Time will tell how it will all play out.  In the interim, with a cup of tea by my side, I soldier on.