Visas for the Visa-Exempt Express Entry Mid-Year Review

August 2015


Two topics for this month’s newsletter:


Visas for the Visa-Exempt

Until August 1st, if you were travelling to Canada from one of visa-exempt countries, all you needed was a valid passport.

Not anymore. Unless you are a citizen of the United States, the Queen or a member of the Royal Family, or if you fall into other limited exemption categories, you will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before the airline will let you board your flight.

Canada made some commitments in the Canada–U.S. Beyond the Border Action Plan several years ago where they pledged to introduce an eTA regime.

The purpose of the eTA system is to pre-screen individuals for admissibility to Canada before they arrive. The eTA system is currently optional, but will be mandatory after March 15, 2016. Applications are made online at a cost of $7.00.  Applicants will need to provide their passport details, personal details, contact information, and answer background questions regarding their health, criminal history, and travel history. CIC anticipates that it will automatically process most eTA applications within minutes. When an eTA application cannot be automatically approved, it will be referred to a CIC officer for a manual review.  Officers can request additional documents, and, where required, refer the application to a Canadian visa office abroad for further processing, including a possible interview. The eTA will be valid for five years or until the applicant's passport expires, whichever occurs sooner.

You can read an excellent Toronto Star article on the new program here.


Express Entry Mid-Year Review

Six months after the introduction of the Express Entry immigration application system, the government of Canada has released a Mid-Year Report. It is a “must-read” for anyone who has set up an Express Entry profile. This is how the numbers break down:

Express Entry Profiles submitted to the Express Entry Pool as of July 6, 2015

Number of Profiles Completed


Not Eligible


Number Pending (i.e. Job Bank Registration, PN Validation)






Number of Active Candidates in the Pool



In my mind, the most significant thing is that out of the 12,017 applicants invited to apply for permanent residency, 85.5% cited their country of residence as “Canada”.   They were already working in Canada, with either a post-graduate work permit or an LMIA-supported or LMIA-exempt work permit.

The scores of those in the Express Entry pool are also significant:

Score                                                                                                          Number of Applicants

450 - 499


400 - 449


350 - 399


300 - 349



The lowest score that has been accepted into the pool as of the date of the report was 453 (on July 17th it dropped to 451, but on August 7th it was back up to 471). And yet, the bulk of the applicants are under the 400 mark.

Keep in mind that although eventually the Express Entry system will be the source of most new immigrants to Canada, for 2015 and into the early months of 2016, most applications processed will be from applications submitted prior to the introduction of Express Entry. Once the backlog of applications is cleared, more applicants will be selected for Express Entry, resulting in scores going down.  

Regardless of what happens, Express Entry has already been a “win” for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Of the 112,701 who applied, 48,723 were found “not eligible” by the computer systems that run Express Entry. Since no human needed to review their application, CIC was saved a great deal of administrative expense.

My favourite Toronto Star reporter wrote a (not very complimentary) article on this topic as well, which you can read here.